Jackie in the News
From tragedy, hope arises for young chefs
San Mateo Daily Journal
By Heather Murtagh
Seventeen-year-old William Bullis had only recently shared his dreams of attending culinary school with his mother when his life was cut short Sept. 9, 2010.
Bullis was one of eight people killed in the Sept. 9 in the natural gas explosion and fire in San Bruno. William was one of three from the Bullis family killed that day. His father, Greg, grandmother Lavonne along with their dog Lucky were lost that day. Last year, his mother Sue Bullis recalled, her son had shared plans to attend culinary school only two days prior. She had been surprised.
After his death, Sue Bullis worked to create a $15,000 scholarship to the International Culinary Center in Campbell in her son’s honor.
Nineteen-year-old Anthony Ortiz from Hayward was the first recipient. Ortiz, who recently graduated from the French Culinary Institute program, graduated from James Logan High School in 2011. He began cooking with his grandmother at a young age. It was in a basic culinary class in high school that Ortiz realized his love for the culinary arts.
Covering the $32,000 tuition was a challenge, however. The scholarship helped make it possible. During the interview process, Ortiz was interviewed by Sue Bullis, who was recently able to watch Ortiz graduate.
“I’m really thankful,” he said.
Now Ortiz is looking for work and one day dreams of having his own Italian restaurant.
“What’s unique is so much of the community was involved in making Anthony’s dream come true,” said Tony Garcia, director of marketing at The International Culinary Center.
Garcia added the scholarship is the first of its kind for the California campus, which opened just more than a year ago. The school has similar programs set up in New York, where it has been open for 30 years.
Administered by the Friends of the French Culinary Institute, donations to the school with a note about William J. Bullis are put toward the fund, Garcia explained. The school recently opened up applications to find the second scholarship recipient. Money is being collected for the effort until July 18. If the effort is short, the school will cover the additional funds. If more is raised, the school will consider offering a scholarship to a second student, said Garcia. Once awarded, the scholarship will help a student who starts classes in Aug. 8.
“Sue Bullis has done an extraordinary thing by taking her grief, which is huge, and turning it into a very positive remembrance of her son,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.
Speier, who recently attended a benefit for the scholarship fund, had the chance to meet Ortiz.
“I’m sure [Sue Bullis] sees Will moving through these young culinary talents,” she said.
Locally, Bullis was also remembered at his school. During the 2011 Arbor Day celebration, Mills High School recognized Bullis with a plaque and tree near the culinary department.
Those wishing to support the William Bullis Scholarship can send a check made out to Friends of the FCI. Please note the William Bullis Scholarship in the memo section. Checks can be mailed to Director of Student Services Rhonda Lynn at the International Culinary Center, 700 W. Hamilton Ave., Campbell, CA 95008.
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