With all of the stress from being in college and working, it’s often easy to forget the first thing or first person that got you into the hospitality industry. In high school, I attended Bucks County Technical High School and was enrolled in the Pastry Arts program the school offered. Recently, I decided to get back in touch with my tech teacher, Chef Kelly Laba, and have been more in touch with my “roots.”
Not only did I give back, but I also learned something while I was there visiting. When I went back to my high school, I did a bread demo and taught the tenth-grade students things about bread they didn’t know. Now, you may ask how I learned something from them. Well, you see, you can learn something from anyone. More specifically, I learned from this young group of students how to be a better leader, how to engage them in a learning manner, and also the basic framework of how to be a teacher.
Not only is it nice if you went to a technical high school, but when you go back it’s even more special when your high school comes and visits Walnut Hill College. It’s a great experience because your teachers get to see how great you’re doing and how much you have grown!
Graduating high school and attending the Community College of Philadelphia was a decision I made when I was 17. If you were to ask me if I wanted to be a chef when I was that age, I probably would have laughed in your face. One year into college, I knew I needed a change, so I began to research culinary colleges in our area. Walnut Hill College was the first one that I researched, and I immediately was interested and scheduled a visit. I transferred a week later and began my journey in February 2014.
I will never forget my first day, which started with me walking into the Purchasing Department thinking it was the door to class and ended with a chef instructor telling me to small dice a carrot. I looked at him as if he had four heads. I had no idea how to hold a knife, nor did I have a clue how to small dice anything. I quickly realized that I really needed to learn a lot if I was going to make it in this industry. Classes were extremely difficult at first for me, but I eventually got the hang of it and found an even bigger love for cooking than I thought I would ever have. The chefs and professors we have at our College have taught me so much along the way, and I hope to one day be able to mentor people the way that they have mentored me over the last three years.
The knowledge that I have gained from Walnut Hill College is incredible, and I do not regret a single thing about attending our wonderful College. I have met so many good people along the way, and it is an honor to call myself an alumnus now. Staying for my bachelor’s degree and being a part of the Student Leadership Development Institute has been an honor and one that I will never forget.