by Kendall College President Emily Williams Knight
From the moment we arrived, I felt the warmth and excitement of the culinary students, faculty and staff. I am so proud of our culinary certificate program in Chicago and it was incredible to see our program come to life on a different campus, in a different country.
The students we visited in Guadalajara, Querétaro and Tlalpan were joyful and excited about their culinary training and their future working in the industry. Many of these students were first in their family to attend college and many were sacrificing so much to cover the average tuition of $4,500 per year. I could see their passion, their commitment to learning in order to improve their life, and their energy was infectious and inspiring.
On our first night, we enjoyed a delectable dinner of sea bass prepared and served by students pursuing the Kendall Culinary Certificate at UVM – Guadalajara. Our intricate and delicious dessert was prepared by Kendall baking and pastry students. There are more than 1,000 Kendall culinary certificate students in Mexico, learning on 13 different campuses. Their love for Kendall and the program is very apparent.
I traveled to Mexico with Kendall Vice President of Culinary Arts Chef Chris Koetke. He has been integral in developing and launching our culinary programs worldwide. The students soaked up his demonstrations and lessons and couldn’t wait to try the techniques and recipes themselves! Each time Chris completed a teaching demonstration, the students crowded around, iPads in hand, taping each and every minute – worried they would miss an important lesson or a tip or technique that would help them in their studies.
As we traveled from campus to campus there was one clear theme. These students, most who had never been to Kendall or even the United States, felt connected to and called Kendall “Their College”. They were proud, they were vocal, and at the end of our visit the students gave us a wonderful surprise! They took off their chef coats and were wearing “My College is Kendall” T-shirts. They had seen students on our Chicago campus wearing them and they decided to make their own! This and many other things I saw during my trip showcased the amazing spirit they have.
The key takeaway from my trip? We have a gift at Kendall. We are the leaders in culinary arts education. We have an opportunity and, frankly, a responsibility to share it with the world. The students in Mexico won my heart, and I returned to Chicago even more committed to our students and to ensuring we continue to provide a quality education in Chicago and at our affiliate locations around the globe.
To know that our team is making a difference in the lives of so many students in Mexico gives me incredible hope for the future of our culinary programs in these countries.