How did you become interested in food?
I was first exposed to culinary arts when I went to a Vocational Technical high school. My mother has also been in the food service industry for 25 years, working for Compass Group. All that food service exposure got me extremely interested in food and this industry.
Who most influenced you?
I would say two people were my biggest influence. The first was my chef instructor at high school. He felt I had tremendous potential in this career field. The second was my sergeant. When I was in the United States Army, I volunteered my time to serve meals to the troops in Afghanistan. Even though my job was not a food specialist, I was passionate about cooking. My sergeant told me that I had demonstrated great leadership skills running the kitchen.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
I overcame two deployments to be here. Originally, I applied to The Culinary Institute of America in 2007 and got accepted. At the time, my mother could not afford to help me pay my tuition, so I decided to join the military with plans to one day be able to attend the world’s premier culinary college. I was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan where sadly, 13 soldiers in my unit were lost. I told myself that life is too short and no matter what, I will try my best to live my dreams. And I know that’s what all my fallen soldiers would have wanted me to do.
Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
I served six years in the United States Army as an Automated Logistical Specialist where I was responsible for supervising and performing management/warehouse functions in order to maintain equipment records and parts.
Why did you choose the CIA?
The CIA is where all the best chefs go and I wanted to be a part of this elite group. And I know that when I graduate, I will be part of an elite alumni network.
What do you like best about CIA?
I love the staff at the CIA. Each department does everything they can to help you reach your goals. The chefs are tough, but they want to prepare you for the road ahead and the realities of the industry. They are the best in the business and provide you with the skills and the knowledge necessary to become successful. They are also a great resource for networking, which is essential in this industry.
What are your career goals/plans?
My career goal is to become an executive chef in The Cancer Treatment Center of America in Atlanta, GA. There are five Cancer Treatment Centers in the United States and I would love to make the dining experience for these patients amazing. Food is good for the soul. It nourishes the body. It soothes, heals, and comforts. And it brings loved ones together. I want to be the first to make hospital food a great food experience.
Any advice for prospective students?
I would tell them that the CIA is the best of the best. The CIA creates champions. If the best is what they are looking for, then they should look no further than the CIA.