There are many young adults who find it very difficult to identify their career passion and explore how to turn that passion into a successful career. That was me, until I discovered my high school’s Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) program. This program helped me discover my passion for Culinary Arts. My culinary class was the class I would look forward to every day, because it is what spoke to me and what I wanted to pursue as a career. It was my participation in this program that introduced me to Career and Technical Education (CTE) and helped me understand what FCS and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) were all about.
FCCLA helped me realize that my best education pathway was to pursue a two-year associate’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University. Through my participation in FCCLA competitions and by excelling in my high school FCS classes, I was offered a fast track position into Johnson & Wales University. It was there that I finished a two-year associate’s degree in one year and made the Dean’s list.
In addition to earning my associate’s degree, I had the opportunity to travel across the country and cook in some of the top restaurants – all at the age of nineteen. I know that my success and decision to pursue my passion through a two-year program was a door I was able to consider thanks to the education, work ethic and leadership skills I received from my FCS classes and experience as a state officer in FCCLA.
After finishing my degree, I was immediately offered jobs by restaurants, resorts and hotels all over the country. It is clear to me that this two-year program was the right choice to help me prepare for my career goals. I believe two-year education programs are an important educational option for many to consider.
However, I am not the only story. Almost every single one of my classmates was inspired in high school to pursue various CTE education options. We are the future of a culinary industry with $825 billion dollars in annual sales, according to the National Restaurant Association – an industry that employs almost ten percent of the total United States workforce. I am proud to be part of this career path and feel prepared thanks to my involvement in CTE.
FCS education in the United States plays a vital role for individuals in a variety of industries by providing employability skills such as budgeting, maintaining healthy relationships, time management and communication. CTE courses like FCS and student organizations like FCCLA provide America’s youth with endless possibilities, vital knowledge and the ultimate leadership experience.
I am grateful to have chosen a two-year education pathway to help me pursue my passion for culinary arts and I hope that parents, students, school counselors and industry leaders recognize the value of CTE.
Aaron is a graduate of Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, IN. He served three years as a state officer for Indiana FCCLA. He also was a two time state winner in ProStart Culinary Management competition and competed at the national level in 2016 and 2017. He currently serves as a prep chef at The Ordinary.