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. 

Student Elections for 2019 are Now Open!

If you are interested in serving in one of the four positions below, or have a RCA student member you would like to nominate, please submit your application today! Applications are due no later than Friday, February 1 at 11:59 p.m. Voting will take place early February with terms beginning at the Student Town Hall at the RCA Conference in Louisville. Each member will serve a one-year term. 

Submit Your Nomination

Chair Requirements and Responsibilities

  • Must be at least a sophomore, or have been actively enrolled for one full calendar year, in their respective collegiate institution.

The Chair will act as a liaison between the Student Committee and the RCA Board of Directors. Responsibilities will also include communicating with each chair on the student committee to help manage student participation in the RCA.  The RCA Student Committee Chair person oversees the Student Committee objectives and initiatives for the forthcoming year.

  • Shall set the agenda and chair meetings of the Student Committee
  • Ensure initiatives are in support of the current RCA Strategic Plan
  • Establish 3-5 priorities annually based on budget and volunteer and staff resources
  • Ensure its compliance with general RCA policies.
  • Give periodic updates to the RCA Board of Directors on activities and progress of the organization.
  • Attend RCA Conference Planning Committee meetings and delegate student member volunteer opportunities for Conference.
  • Submit a minimum of (3) blog posts throughout their term; entrance and welcoming announcement, mid-year committee updates, exit and accomplishments.
  • Continuously work to recruit and retain membership in the organization.

Vice Chair/Marketing Requirements and Responsibilities

The Vice Chair/Marketing chair closely shadows and monitors the work of the Chair in order to be well informed and aware of the committee activities should the need arise for him/her to assume the duties of the Chair the following year.

  • Assumption of the Vice Chair role is a two-year commitment, with service as Chair to follow the year of service as the Vice-Chair.
  • Shall succeed to Chair if the Chair is unable to fulfill his/her duties.
  • Run meetings of the student committee in the absence of the Chair.
  • Create Marketing Sub-Committee to manage blog, social media, and student newsletters
  • Assist with the publicity of all student events.
  • Attend RCA Conference Planning Committee meetings when the Chair is unavailable.
  • To build RCA Student Committee (RCASC) and RCA Culinology awareness by connecting Culinology students (and Culinology Clubs) and with each other
  • To keep Culinology students up to date on industry happenings and RCA events
  • To encourage relationships between students and professionals for future internships and jobs
  • Publicize annual chair elections by announcing nominations, promoting campaigns, and regulating student voting.

Regional Chair Requirements and Responsibilities

The role of the Regional Chair would be to serve as a liaison between the professional Regional Committee, and the student committee.

  • Sit on the Professional Regional Committee
  • Work with regional chairs to host small regional events to promote RCA. Suggestions include:
    • Lunch and learns, panel discussions, career talks, RCA recruitment, career fair “booth”, educational opportunities, networking opportunities
  • Serve as a sounding board for input from a student’s perspective for upcoming events and committee initiatives from the regional committee
  • Assist professional regional chairs in planning events
  • Work with Regional chair to collaborate on educational opportunities at universities
  • Assist in creating a student presence at RCA Regional Events
  • Assist with event promotion, student attendee recruitment, and identifying opportunities to strengthen and develop relationships with universities

Education/Competition Chair Requirements and Responsibilities

The role of the Competitions Chair would be to serve as a liaison between the professional Competitions Committee, and the student committee.

  • Serve on professional competitions committee
  • Promote the Annual RCA Expo event and encourage more student members to attend and inform members of special student events and competitions.
  • Announce student competitions via email and social media and encourage students to actively participate and engage with other students to apply their skills.
  • Assist in recruiting sponsors for student competitions
  • Assist in recruiting student teams for all student related competitions
  • Continue to work to develop new topics/trends for new competitions

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.