Stephanie DeSpain graduated from J.C. Harmon High School in 2009 and began attending Kansas State University immediately afterward. While she enjoyed the experience on campus, finances dictated that she needed to return home to Kansas City, Kansas. Stephanie started taking courses at Johnson County Community College, working toward a business degree. However, she soon discovered a new passion and path: cooking.
Almost 10 years after completing high school, Stephanie is now an entrepreneur and owner of Pyet’s Plate. She says the most rewarding part is the ability to be as creative as she wants. “My name is behind my food, talent, sweat and tears,” she said. She recognizes the challenges that come with building clientele, but overall, she is happy with her decision to start her own business.
Recognizing, understanding and overcoming challenges is something that Stephanie says she learned from her two years as a 20/20 Leadership participant. “My favorite part is that we didn’t just see successful people. We saw what happens when you make mistakes or don’t meet your full potential,” she said.
Stephanie was introduced to the program by her high school advisor and at first, she was unsure of what the experience would bring. She says her peers thought it was just a program to get out of school, but she saw it as an additional learning opportunity. “I was surprised, impressed and I truly enjoyed everything,” she remembers.
She was part of the group that started the discussion about the Harmon Hub, a ½ mile trail that was built in 2014. Stephanie and the other 20/20 Leadership students were interested in leaving a legacy at their school, even after they graduated. As a 20/20 alumna, Stephanie regularly gives of her time and talents to the organization. Most notably, she has served on the scholarship selection committee for the past few years, assisting other alumni with evaluating scholarship applications and naming winners.