Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Saginaw Career Complex, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program

In honor of Culinary Arts Month, we are highlighting the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program of study in Saginaw, Michigan. It provides learners with rigorous coursework and the work-based learning opportunities they need for careers in the food service, lodging and tourism industries.  Learners gain valuable work-based learning experiences through the operation of an on-site restaurant, industry tours, and culinary competitions. The dedication to a high-quality academic and technical education is clear in the numbers – In the 2015-16 class, every student earned an industry-recognized certification along with college-level credit.

This year, the program received the annual Excellence in Action award in the Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster®.  It is one of the most diverse programs offered at the Career Complex, including learners from 11 different schools and high enrollment from minority populations.

Since winning the award, the program has continued to set learners up for success. This year, 100 percent of learners earned industry certifications in ServSafe Allergens and/or ServSafe Managers, certifications recognized by the National Restaurant Association.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are also a critical component of the program. In fact, this program of study is the only one in Michigan to have two national championships from two different student organizations, SkillsUSA and ProStart. Learners enrolled in the program have received  four national medals in the past five years. Leadership is aware of possible barriers that can prevent students from being able to participate in these competitions, so they continue to make applying for grants and sponsorship opportunities a priority.

Participation in CTE programs opens many doors for learners. Eighty-six percent of parents and students want real-world, hands-on opportunities as part of their high school experience, and this program does exactly that. Maria Buko graduated in June of 2014 and participated in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program for two years. Since graduating, Maria won a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America where she is completing her bachelor’s degree. She was also the first person in the United States to compete in the Worldskills bakery competition where she placed ninth in the world! Maria continues to give back to the program when she can.

All learners like Maria deserve to have access to quality programs facilitated by individuals with passion, experience and expertise. Julie Ivan has been teaching this culinary program for more than 30 years and exemplifies a passion for her work and learners. She incorporates a robust advisory committee with businesses that support every facet of the curriculum, to ensure that students are learning the most up-to-date knowledge and skills that will serve them in their careers. Next year, Ivan will travel to Kazan, Russia to serve as the Chief Bakery Expert for her third Worldskills event. She is the only high school culinary teacher in the United States to receive the Worldskills Expert title.

To learn more about Saginaw Career Complex, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program read the profile here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

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