Jennifer Rice is the recipient of The Michael Cerullo Memorial Veteran Scholarship. Her road to the CIA is inspirational and ability to fulfill her dream of a CIA degree is because of the support of family, friends, and the generosity of donors to the CIA. Here’s her story.
Before enrolling at The Culinary Institute of America, Jennifer was teaching Spanish at the United States Military Academy at West Point. While working full-time, she volunteered in the local military community for different organizations, raised her daughter Miriam, and took care of her husband—who was receiving special medical treatment for combat-related disabilities. It was a difficult time. Some of her favorite activities during that period were food-related, like hosting the West Point Culinary Club and teaching members how to cook a traditional Panamanian meal. She organized a monthly Warrior Transition Unit breakfast for the staff and for transitioning wounded soldiers and their families. It was at these social get-togethers where Jennifer found peace, harmony, and healing through sharing food.
It was her daughter’s encouragement that pushed her to go back to school and pursue a degree in culinary arts. One of her sisters-in-arms invited her to volunteer at the World Pastry Forum at the Red Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. She told Jennifer about The Culinary Institute of America and everything she knew about enrollment for military wives. Once Jennifer’s husband was medically stable, the family decided that this was the right path for her to follow. Jennifer’s daughter said that she knew in her heart that this is what her mom was meant to do and assured her that she would help take care of her dad while Jennifer attended school.
Jennifer truly enjoyed every stage of her personal and professional development at the CIA. “Learning side-by-side with a new and unfamiliar younger generation was interesting, she said. “During my journey at the CIA, I continued teaching and serving others as a tutor at the Library Learning Center. I participated in team competitions at the annual chili and chowder cook-offs, and experienced the ‘real’ food industry during externship.” After returning from externship Jennifer took on her most challenging class—wines. But she loved it all.
Jennifer has begun a second associate degree, this time in baking and pastry arts. Her future plans include working in the industry in a field that combines her passion for both culinary arts and education. And for her ability to move forward in a new career she thanks the CIA and the generous donors who provide scholarships to student. “Meeting and interacting with staff, faculty, and other members of the culinary community has enriched my life and career,” she explains. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to experience all of this!”