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Student Spotlight: Randy Jeffay

Randy Jeffay

Randy Jeffay
Major: Culinary Arts

For Randy Jeffay, 2008 proved a defining year.

At age 50, he needed a new kidney. Luckily, Jeffay's sister-in-law stepped up and the transplant surgery was a success. Just a few weeks later, another complication set in -- the restaurant company Jeffay worked at for 19 years let him go.

"I have this life-changing experience and then this life-shattering one. I get a new lease on life and lose my job in a short period of time. What do you do?"

The resilient Jeffay put both traumas behind him and looked ahead. After exploring his options, Jeffay enrolled at College of DuPage.

"I went to school many years ago but never completed a degree," he said. "So I combined the previous credits and took a few more classes to earn an Associate in Science degree."

With one goal accomplished, the former Information Technology director considered his next move.

"I love to cook, so I decided to go into COD's Culinary program. I had a very good experience. The new facilities were amazing, and the instructors were really sharp. I learned a lot and got a good, quality education."

Jeffay enjoyed experimenting and honing his skills in the COD Culinary kitchens.

"In the baking store room, there's 400 pounds of high-quality chocolate and other top-notch ingredients," he said. "In the Classical Cuisine course, we'd be working with tenderloins, lobster tails, ducks, wonderful cuts of fish. These were opportunities to do some real quality learning with quality results."

Jeffay plans to open a little takeout restaurant in Chicago, putting his own unique twist on one of America's favorite hand-held foods - tacos - building a menu of unusual international flavors like Greek and Korean tacos. Jeffay credits COD for helping him realize his dream and appreciates all the possibilities the community college offers.

"At College of DuPage, you could become an X-ray technician or an auto mechanic or whatever your heart's desire," he said. "There are so many other areas that you can, in a short time, literally change your career path.

"If I can do it, anybody can do it. It's a point of pride."

More about the Culinary and Hospitality Management program