We’ve been sending bi-weekly emails to incoming students with various activities to get them ready for this exciting new chapter in their lives.  Recently, we sent out a request for future students to share their thoughts on why they chose OCI, what they are looking forward to most, and what they hope to gain.  We’d like to share this very thoughtful response from Nikki Dennis, who is starting the Culinary Management Degree program next week.

OCI seemed like a perfect fit for me personally and it was a fairly easy decision for me. I had looked into different culinary programs, but OCI is especially specific to the area I had chosen to relocate to and I thought it would be the ideal place to learn about local products and perspectives. It also allowed me to opportunity to pursue the elusive AOS degree I have always wanted and will be invaluable with the business courses that are included in this degree.

I am looking forward to studying and learning so much more about something I love – all aspects of food and beverage. I just can’t seem to ever get enough information in this area and never tire of learning more. Food makes me feel happy and connected to something that is difficult to express. It conjures up memories of cooking with my mom and remembering different good times we had that revolved around preparing and then devouring food. It then affords me the wonderful opportunity to share these experiences with my son and create new ones as well. While I cook and bake with my son, we get to spend quality time together while learning in the process. As a result, he is fairly well-versed on nutrition, has tried many different types of foods, has found his own love of cooking and is considering food as one of his career prospects as well.

As for what I hope to gain, it’s almost immeasurable. I hope to be in an environment that coincides with my personal values and I hope to thrive in that environment. Portland has been dubbed a “foodie town,” but I’ve already discovered it’s so much deeper than that. There is a deep respect for food, nutrition, flavor, creativity, sustainability, and local products that is ever present from the food trucks to the school district and it is so refreshing to see and be a part of that.

What it comes down to is that I’m grateful to be able to embark on something I am passionate about and embrace the challenge to become an OCI Kitchen Ninja. Ultimately, my path in the food industry will be revealed and I am ready to begin.

~ Nikki Dennis, Future OCI Student – September 2012