SFI Is excited to share that our employee Beatrice Montano has been selected as a Face Of CNM. Beatrice is a prime example of how cooking can help people fight through times of adversity. We are proud to have her on our team and hope that her story will inspire others to find their purpose in life.

We would like to thank CNM for writing the following article that beautifully captures Beatrice’s story:

With the support of her family, along with the Street Food Institute and CNM community, Beatrice has turned her life around and is on track for a prosperous future.

A few years ago, Beatrice Montano’s son passed away. As she struggled to cope with the tragic loss, she made some bad choices and her life started veering off in the wrong direction.

“I was in a bad relationship. I got into some trouble and I went to prison for two years,” said Beatrice, now 55.

During her time in prison, Beatrice found solace in her passion for cooking. She would cook meals for the other inmates, took multiple culinary arts courses and eventually became certified in food handling. She knew she was ready to turn her life around.

Her passion for cooking and her goal to eventually operate her own food truck led her to the Street Food Institute and CNM, where she’s working toward degrees in Business and Culinary Arts.

“I love to cook, and I cook everything,” said Beatrice. “I’d love to run my own food truck someday.”

When she was released from prison, Beatrice became a resident of Maya’s Place, a transitional housing facility for previously incarcerated women, run by Crossroads for Women.

“I didn’t want to be in trouble anymore. I wanted to take care of everything in my life,” said Beatrice.

At Maya’s Place, Beatrice learned about community classes offered through the Street Food Institute, a CNM partner that operates the SFI Café on Main Campus, as well as a food truck. She quickly became an intern for SFI, then was hired as an employee.

SFI’s connection to CNM also sparked her interest in becoming a CNM student. She got connected with Academic Coach Latoya Turner-Delgado, who helped her through the admissions process. Now, she’s a full-time student.

“Beatrice came in and we went through the admissions process together,” said Latoya. “I walked Beatrice through the enrollment process from start to finish, utilizing many available CNM and community resources.”

Beatrice said that she’s also grateful to the staff at SFI for fostering her passion for cooking and teaching her new techniques.

“They’re great! I love to ask questions and I can ask the chefs at SFI anything and they will explain it all,” said Beatrice. “They teach me new ways to cook all the time.”

Tina Garcia-Shams, executive director of SFI, said that Beatrice has become a shining star at SFI.

“We are so happy and proud of Beatrice for taking the step to enroll at CNM.  I have no doubt that she will be a great addition to the CNM community,” said Tina.

Beatrice said that being an older student can be a challenge. But CNM’s tutoring services have been a major help in easing her transition into college. She also said that her younger classmates have been supportive and encouraging.


“I’m in class with all these young kids, but every time we get to work together, they help me out with any problems I’m having with the work,” said Beatrice. “I’m confident that I can do this.”

Since immersing herself in the CNM community and deciding to pursue a degree, Beatrice has also reconnected with her once estranged daughter.

“I’m very lucky that my daughter let me back into her life, or I’d never know my granddaughter,” said Beatrice. “I did stuff I shouldn’t have done and I paid for it. I’m grateful that they’re not holding it against me.”

With the support of her family, along with the SFI and CNM community, Beatrice has turned her life around and is on track for a bright future.

“Beatrice has faced multiple obstacles in her life, but her determination is admirable,” said Latoya, the CNM academic coach. “Witnessing Beatrice attend her first week of school was truly a rewarding moment.  She is highly motivated and appreciates the opportunity to receive an education.”

This article courtesy of Central New Mexico College