A Winning Attitude
“Giving 110%” is an oft-overused cliché, but it’s entirely appropriate when describing Jackie DeGrandpre.
When she decided early on that she wanted to be a baker—“ever since I could walk”—she dove into it, helping her grandmother bake and sell cakes out of her house, baking every weekend for her brothers and sisters, studying ingredients and recipes. That determination led her to The Culinary Institute of America’s baking and pastry program.
“I researched schools, and when I found out the CIA was the best, that’s where I wanted to go,” she says. “I always wanted a bachelor’s degree in baking. I especially love the physical aspect of it.”
The same attitude carries over to her other great passion—running. A three-time cross country conference champion at the CIA, Jackie credits her father with not only instilling her with a love of running, but changing her life.
“I was overweight in middle school and very self-conscious,” she recalls. “I started making small changes in my diet, and my dad always tried to take me out to run with him. So one day at a local park, he said ‘We’re gonna do 2½ miles. I was dying, but I made it. Then he said ‘We’re gonna do it again!’ At the end when I saw the final straightaway, I really booked it to the finish. It was mind over pain, and from that day forward I was really hooked.”
She was indeed. Jackie went on to lose 40 pounds, and signed up for cross country in her senior year of high school. She also participated in indoor track (very successfully, going to nationals) and completed the Philadelphia Marathon in 3 hours and 17 minutes. When she came to the CIA, she was thrilled to see that cross country was an intercollegiate sport.
And the CIA is definitely thrilled to have her. In 2013, the team will be going for its fourth consecutive Hudson Valley Athletic Conference title, and Jackie—who has been named team captain—will be going for her fourth individual title as well. It’s been a winning experience all the way around. “I love all my teammates,” she says. “People in cross country are so nice, even our opponents; it’s a very friendly sport. It’s tough sometimes to balance work (at the Apple Pie Bakery Café), class, and cross country, but I’m not going to give up the one thing that keeps me sane.”
She has the same dedication and focus for her studies as she does her sport. “It’s been a great experience in school. I’ve never worked in a restaurant, so it really opened my eyes to the profession,” Jackie explains. “The experiences you get out of it, the places you go, are amazing. You meet so many different people, making connections, making friends.”
And giving 110% in everything she does.