Making a Good Impression
There are the tattoos. There’s the serious look, the determined walk as she moves on to the next class or practice or student event. At first glance, CIA student and volleyball player Christine Gibson says people perceive her as unapproachable, even intimidating. But she tells everyone who’s willing to listen that such an impression couldn’t be further from the truth.
“My teammates tell me to go out on the court and look tough at games, but I just can’t do that,” she says. “I’m too nice. I’m the girl who, if I hit someone with the ball, is the first one to say ‘Sorry!’ I love to talk to people, to get to know them, and the CIA with all its diversity is great for that. People are surprised at how welcoming and friendly I am.”
Another perception Christine wants to change is that CIA sports aren’t very good. “Everyone knows we’re an amazing culinary school,” she says. “But no one knows about the athletics. We have an amazing cross country team, success in volleyball, soccer. We need to get the word out. Even if you don’t play, come out and support the sports.”
Sports have long been a big part of Christine’s life. She started playing volleyball in middle school, but stopped after freshman year in high school to focus on other pursuits. So when she got to the CIA, she was more than happy to learn that she could once again pick up the sport she loves.
“I was in the gym for orientation when I heard Serge (Nalywayko, from the CIA athletics department) call out about volleyball practice,” she recalls. “So I went. The first few practices were rough after not having played in three to four years, but (teammate) Kristin McGinn took me under her wing. She’s a great friend, and we have the same goal—not just to win, but be better people.”
And Christine is quick to point out that the CIA is helping make her not only a better person, but a better professional. “When I came here, I knew right away I had to be a million times better than I had been,” she says. “The CIA matures you and forces you to get more organized. It makes you better in and out of the kitchen.”
Ultimately, she envisions making her mark on the food world out of the kitchen more than in it. “I decided I would love to manage even more than cook, so I stayed on for the bachelor’s degree,” Christine says. “I don’t necessarily want to own a restaurant, but I definitely want to manage one.”
First she has some unfinished business on the volleyball court, which at the CIA presents its own special challenges. “We just lost one of our middle hitters to graduation,” explains team co-captain Christine. “Most of us can finish out the season though, and we’re excited. It’s a phenomenal group of girls, and our chemistry is great. Coach (Jamie) Floryan is such an amazing coach. And the CIA makes you more driven to do what you love, which makes us better athletes.”
That energy and passion will serve her well in her career, too. “I definitely have a better drive to achieve my goals now. The college changes who you are, totally for the better.” And that’s an impression Christine doesn’t want to change.