Student Committee

The RCA Student Committee is comprised of four leadership positions with supporting members who are committed to driving the organizations student initiatives and setting its future direction under the advisement of the RCA Board of Directors. 

2018 RCA Student Elected Representatives 


Melinda Russell   
Student Committee Chair

Melinda Russell serves as the Chair of the RCA Student Committee. She is currently a senior at Clemson University and is majoring in Food Science and Technology with an emphasis in Culinology®. She has completed a summer culinary internship at P.F. Chang's as well as a research and development internship at Perdue.  Read below to learn about her goals for the RCA Student Committee.

"I am excited to get RCA students involved. I want to help students become leaders by getting them involved in organizing activities in their respective regions. Also, I aim to spread the word to students about the benefits of membership, and increase student attendance at the conferences."  


Amadeaus Ahnah   
Vice Chair/Marketing Committee Chair

Amadeaus Ahnan, or Ando for short, serves as the Vice Chair/ Marketing Chair of the RCA Student Committee. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Food Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Read on to find out why he decided to join the RCA Student Committee.

"I recently joined the RCA Student Committee because of the opportunity to bridge the food science and culinary arts worlds. I love both and I believe we can provide more safe, healthy, sustainable, and affordable delicious food products or services from the synergy of both expertise."

Benj.PNGBen Herrera  
Regional Chair

Ben Herrera serves as the Regional Chair for the RCA Student Committee. He is currently in his first year of a one year long accelerated program for his associate degree in culinary arts. Previously, Ben attended Cornell University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in food science with a minor in enology and viticulture. Ben worked for PepsiCo Global for 18 months as a lab technician then as product developer, and is now working the line at GT Prime in Chicago. Read below to learn more about why Ben wanted to lead the committee.

“I’m excited to just get involved in the RCA and start to learn all the different places it touches in the industry… I joined the committee primarily as a way to get involved and learn more about the organization overall.”


Tamara Gabler  
Education/Competitions Chair

Tamara Gabler serves as the Education/Competitions Chair for the RCA Student Committee. Tamara graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in health studies and is a recent graduate from Kendall College with an associate degree in applied science in culinary arts. Read on to learn why Tamara decided to join the student committee.

It is always great to step out of your comfort zone and let your thoughts become reality. I want to make an impact on younger students, high school students especially, to help them see that there is more than just restaurants and fine dining within the food industry. I loved Science and Health in high school, but I also loved working with food. I want to make sure that students that were in my shoes in high school know that there is an option to combine both.”

Jaime Mestan, CSC®   
Student Committee Board Liason
Director of Bistro Products - Vienna Beef Ltd.

Get Involved- Join the Student Committee Today!

Join us in creating the future of food by getting involved with the RCA Student Committee. If you are a RCA student we would love to have you join the RCA Student Committee! Please contact Melinda Russell and your name will be added to the roster. Student Committee calls are held once a month on the forth Friday of each month at 12:00 p.m. CT. If you are interested in helping with the below initiatives please let us know.

The Student Committee is currently pursuing the following initiatives:

  • Planning student events at a regional level
  • Promoting the Evolution of Waste Competition and encouraging submissions
  • Recruiting students from every RCA recognized school to join the Student Committee
  • Publishing blog posts to The Culinologist, a place where students, professionals, and food geeks share their food interests
  • Creating and establishing a student presence on RCA social media platforms
  • And more!

Questions? Contact us at or at (312)321-6861.