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Kansas City Teen Wins "Best Teen Chef" Title and Full Ride Scholarship

A success story is always heartwarming, and a success story against difficult odds is even more so. It's in that spirit that 19-year-old Sammy Jo Claussen overcame disadvantage to blow the competition out of the water and win the title of "Best Teen Chef," plus a coveted full-ride scholarship to Art Institute at Kansas City.

How did it happen? As Kansas City.com reports, for a long time it didn't seem likely: "During the last few years at Shawnee Mission North High School, Sammy Jo Claussen wasn't exactly on the 'winner' track. Dyslexic and bipolar with anger issues and attention deficit disorder, the temperamental teen kept to herself. Able to read at only a fourth-grade level, she was teased by classmates and dismissed as dumb... The writing seemed to be on the wall." There was a part of her, however, that hardly anyone had yet seen -- and it's a part that can't be easily dismissed.

It's the part of her that drew from "15 years of hands-on experience" learning to cook from her grandmother and encouragement from teachers at the trade school she was attending part time. It's the part of her that braved the competition with a broken wrist, where many would have dropped out. And it's the part of her that beat out hundreds of other teenagers from across the country for a title and a $90,000 scholarship prize to pursue a culinary arts degree. It isn't a prize that Claussen takes lightly, either. She told Kansas City.com. "When you come here, you want to pay attention to everything and make sure you're listening and getting good grades." It isn't a contest she won easily, but she dominated the competition and is prepared to do the same in the culinary world.

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