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GlenOak grad pivots when her kitchen dream is derailed

CANTON — Octavia Stokes had dreams of becoming a world-famous chef from the time she was 5 years old. 

Much of her youth has been spent pursuing the dream. The 2015 GlenOak High School graduate was captain of Jackson High School’s culinary arts team, with plans to attend the Culinary Arts Academy of Switzerland after graduation.

After her father, Ronald Jr., unexpectedly died in Fall 2011, Stokes herself was stricken with narcolepsy with cataplexy in December. Doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to handle a knife.

Though dreams of studying Switzerland were dashed, an undaunted Stokes found the right combination of medications and continued cooking.


“The summer I graduated high school I did an internship at Table 6 and got a job at Gervasi,” she said. “Both were giving me real-world experience in the kitchen. In a commercial kitchen, you have to be ‘Speedy Gonzales.’ I always call myself a kitchen sloth. I just figured out that working in a commercial kitchen was not the best idea for me.”