How did I get here? A Journey from Social Work to Culinary Arts
By: Carly Hall
There is no other place to begin than the beginning….so here we go. I was in the cool kids “click” in High School. I skirted my way through those 4 years and received my diploma. I chose to go to the local community college then transfer to ECU because my SAT scores would have been laughed at by any college. Needless to say my 4 years of college turned into 6 but yet again I graduated with a Criminal Justice Degree. Of course I got all the questions “Are you going to be a cop? (no thanks…too dangerous) Are you going to be a lawyer? (noooo waaaay! I'm not that smart) You should be a lawyer, you like to debate with people. (What? Really?? ha ha ha)” Honestly, I knew I wanted to do something in the CJ field but I had no clue what. So after graduation, I completed about 100 pd107’s (the really long State job applications) and mailed them out along with my resume. Now the waiting game begins…
So I get my first “real” job with an all-male, medium security prison near Wilmington, NC. And quickly learned that job was not for me. For the next 7 years I find myself working various jobs in the mental health field and learning everything I can about mental health. Most jobs were in adolescent group homes and juvenile facilities so I was well versed in juvenile behaviors. I thought I found my calling in the MH field with kids but then was offered a job with the Department of Social Services in the Foster Care Unit. How could I pass this up? A government job with benefits, no weekends and paid Holidays. Plus I would be working with the population I knew a lot about, kids! What could be better? Right? During the next two years I'm involved with some of the happiest, scariest, saddest and most heart breaking situations….day in and day out. I've seen things that would make most people cry for days or hide under their beds forever. During my DSS days, I used cooking as my outlet to wash away the horror and sadness of each week. I’d literally just throw this or that in a pot or pan and see what came out. I started sharing my “meals” with a co-worker and the next thing I knew she was a regular diner at my home. Then I began to make better meals and share them at lunch with more of my co-workers. Soon I was making more dishes, sharing recipes and even made food for others to take home. After several months of cooking, everyone was talking about how good my food was and saying I should go to culinary school. Yeah, right. Me? Ha!! I barely made it through high school and college….how can I go back to school? Can I really do it?
Now here I am, present day 2012 and I'm in my first term of Culinary Arts at TCA! From day one I wasn’t sure what to expect and every day is a learning experience. I'm learning to make things “the right way” rather than the way I do at home. It’s like a whole new world to me. It can be quite intimidating at some points but I made it through my rocky past, I shall soak up all the knowledge I can from the present and build myself a shining future to be proud of.
I wrote all of this and then realized the best way to explain it is through one of Brian Andreas Story People paintings.
The quote reads….. “Don't you hear it? She asked & I shook my head no & then she started to dance & suddenly there was music everywhere & it went on for a very long time & when I finally found words all I could say was thank you.”
Thank you to God, my parents, my family and my friends for having faith in me while I was making life changing choices.
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to do something different.
Thank you to everyone who answered my 500 questions about culinary schools and how TCA was the best choice.
Thank you to everyone who is encouraging me to keep pushing forward.
Thank you to everyone…thank you so very much.
(insert deep sigh of relief)