Olivia Weidner – Student Bio
“I chose The Culinary because I view my education as an investment. Attending the CIA would allow me to not only network but take a step in becoming the best in my field.”
How did you become interested in food?
I have always found it quite magnificent when people can combat life’s many challenges through the solitude of discovery while living out their passions. I often refer back to this viewpoint because from a young age, I actually turned to baking as a therapeutic method to get through life. As time continued, I found myself gravitating towards the kitchen due to the pure happiness and excitement it provided me. I view this as, metaphorically speaking, filling my “bucket.” I soon realized that one of the things I loved most about food was not only the healing ability it provided me, but also the power that food has to spread happiness to others. So now, not only was this filling my personal bucket, but also helping to fill someone else’s by giving them an experience no one could ever take away. I have always found myself having a natural desire to put a smile on the face of others, and I believe that directly correlates into my decision to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.
I can recall my 12-year-old self thinking, “Could this be your career?” Fast forward nine years, and the answer is yes! I discovered that I could spend my career spreading happiness to others through doing something that provided me with so much strength, joy, and comfort. I made it my life’s mission to try and learn every angle in the field, and receive that same smile from every customer and guest that I could while having the pleasure of making their experience one to remember.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose The Culinary because I view my education as an investment. Attending the CIA would allow me to not only network but take a step in becoming the best in my field. To receive the best knowledge I could for this industry was truly the greatest investment I could make as I moved forward to meet my goals.
How have scholarships helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
When I was first learning about the CIA, I could hear Disney’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” song playing in my mind over and over again. After having the opportunity to be flown out to tour the Hyde Park campus on a scholarship, I knew this was the school I wished to attend. However, sometimes big dreams come with a price and I’m very happy to say the scholarships I received have made it possible for me to turn my dreams into reality.
What do you like best about the CIA?
The opportunity to grow within my industry, as not only as an individual but also a leader, has been by far one of the best things CIA has offered me. They have allowed me to ask questions, create programs, and trusted me to spread the good word of every experience the school has to offer. It’s truly powerful as a student when you have such a wide variety of supporters who believe in you and want to make your dreams happen. Thanks CIA!
Do you belong to any CIA clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
The many great experiences I’ve had on campus include being a resident assistant, chief justice of the Judiciary Board, cross country runner, and student activity leader. My commitment to being involved in school has provided me unique opportunities that have helped mold me into a strong, emerging hospitality manager who’s able to problem-solve, lead, mentor, and overcome adversity. But most important, these opportunities have put me in a position where I could give the gift of an experience and receive a smile back. I believe that strong leaders emerge from seeking a greater understanding of all aspects of their chosen industry, and this is why I have chosen to take my education at the CIA further than simply the required time in classes.
What is your favorite dish to make?
I truly don’t have a favorite dish. However, there is something about modern French, elegant cuisine that really catches my attention. I love any dessert that showcases the importance of little details. Clean lined plates capture the elegance the food has to offer.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
Now that I am in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program in Food Businesses Management with a concentration in Italian Cuisine and Cultures, my goals have only continued to grow larger. The BBA program has enabled me to expand my knowledge and training deeper than just the pastry arena, giving me the opportunity to dive into the dining room and explore the array of avenues to take in the hospitality industry.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
I have always believed networking is everything, and CIA has confirmed that belief to be true. The college has instilled in me that, once you’ve made those connections, it’s important to keep them. Networking is one of the best amenities The Culinary offers to us students. It’s such a crucial aspect to helping you lean in and join the circle.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My lifelong goal is to learn how to become fluent in all aspects of the industry, while continuously learning to become my best self. During my associate degree program, I spent many hours before, during, and after classes in the kitchen asking questions so I could take advantage of each opportunity that was before me. I was the first student to arrive to class and the last student to leave every day.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Take the time now to really focus on who you want to be inside and outside the kitchen. Take the time to find what you like and do not like. And above all, ask questions! Ask anything you don’t know and anything you want to learn more about. A chef once told me that when you’re young, the best thing you can do for yourself is never stay longer than a year. Go out and work in as many restaurants as possible within the first couple of years. You will learn more than you know what to do with at first—but it will make you a huge success.