Looking for a new beginning in a new locale, Arianna Gonzalez packed her belongings and moved to Maryland. She had been working at a fine-dining restaurant in Laurel for about three months when she began seeing advertisements about Howard Community College (HCC).
“I made my decision to enroll within three days of learning about the school,” she says. “It was a spontaneous choice and I don’t regret it. I had no intention of going back to college whatsoever, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I saw the school offered a culinary program and said, ‘Let’s give this another shot.’”
Gonzalez attended Blue Mountain Community College before moving from Oregon. She has worked in the hospitality/culinary business for more than five years but never considered pursuing formal education in the field. But she also never worked in a fine-dining establishment before, an experience that piqued her interest.
“That made my curiosity grow,” she says. “I was working at a different type of restaurant and learning more and more, even as a busser. I was learning about the hierarchy of front- and back-of-house, and just wanted to learn more.”
Gonzalez is working toward an associate degree in culinary arts with certificates in baking and pastries, and professional cooking. She’s always enjoyed trying out different recipes and she’s excited to make cooking and baking a career. “It fills me with contentment when I see other people enjoying my food,” she says. “I cook with my heart.”
Last year, an instructor told her about the BIC Educational Foundation scholarship for HCC’s culinary students. Gonzalez applied and received the award for that academic year. “It’s been immensely helpful,” she says.
Four years after relocating, she feels at home. She sees HCC as a tremendous opportunity for growth within Howard County, a diverse institution with plenty of options and flexibility in tuitions costs and scheduling. “I don’t know how to put it in words,” she says. “It feels like family.
“I feel like I’ve actually grown more as a person while attending. Before I moved here, my main concern was just trying to survive into adulthood. When I left my family in the western states, it was for a fresh start.
“HCC pretty much helped me find my way.”