Dreams can come true, but it takes hard work. Carol Thomas , Faculty , The Art Institute of California—Sacramento, a campus of Argosy University
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
When I started college classes, I knew food and nutrition were my passion. Teaching others about nutrition and its impact on their life and health has become a lifetime goal.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I bring in executive chefs, sous chefs, and former students to help provide a look into the real culinary world. Students learn a great deal by hearing stories of what actually happens in a restaurant, on a cruise ship, in a bakery, casino, ballpark, country club, or food truck. I try to enlighten them, get them excited, but also show the realities. Dreams can come true, but it takes hard work.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I ask students to research a famous chef they may never have beard of. They come back to class and share what they’ve learned. It’s a great way to enlighten students about the industry—and how some of chefs became famous because of a new concept they created. It lets students see that the possibilities are unlimited.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
I always point out that culinary students can use some help in creating the visual that sells what they cook. Students often work together in culinary classes with graphic design students and photography students. Creating a menu requires knowledge of typeface and graphics. The right photo can enhance the presentation of the food. It all works together.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I tell them that their education will give them the knowledge and skills to prepare food, but that the business world is competitive—and their success will be determined by the attitude they take to the job. They need to show up early and be willing to stay late. And they need to listen.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Be open to what the masters have to offer. Combine that real world experience with classroom knowledge to create a successful career.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m passionate about helping every student achieve their dreams. I’ve seen so many graduates go out into the world and soar in their profession. Those students make me believe in what I do.