I’m a different person than when I started at Elgin Community College. I am stronger, more confident, and ready to make some significant changes in my life. As a single mom of two boys, I dedicated my life to raising them and making sure they had what they needed. I struggled to make ends meet and sacrificed so they would not go without the things they needed, and I’m proud of the relationship and bond that I have with them. I am also grateful for their support during my studies.
In January 2018, I realized my sons weren’t going to need my constant help much longer, and if I wanted my life to be different in the future, I was the only one that could change it. I took a long time to reflect on what the best path would be for me. Did I want to go deeper into the business world and maybe make more money? Or did I want to follow my passion for hospitality, cooking, baking – making others feel good through the love of food? My answer landed me in the ECC Culinary Arts program.
Was I scared? Nervous? YES! I was almost 50 years old - what was I thinking about, going back to school at my age? But it was at ECC that I worked with several talented and inspirational instructors. They showed me the nuances of the hospitality industry and taught me through their experiences. They cared about me as a student and on a personal level, and I wouldn’t have made it through the tough semesters without their encouragement and support. A huge shout out to Chef Jill Turro, Jenn Loiacano, Kim Rother, and Chef Chrystie Wojcik - you were always there with a smile, a word of advice, or a kick in the right direction when I needed one.
I was also financially supported by the ECC Foundation, for which I am so grateful. It’s sad to think my time at ECC is coming to an end, but I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and I pledge to give back to the foundation once I settle in my new career.
Remember, it’s never too late, and you are never too old to follow your passion.
Linda Kooper, St. Charles
Associate of Applied Science