Student Spotlight: Sarah Ramirez

Sarah Ramirez

Sarah Ramirez
Major: Culinary and
Hospitality Management
Hometown:  Carol Stream

Sarah Ramirez said it was her mother's dream that she become a chef.

"From the time I was 5, she would tell me that my place should be in the kitchen," Ramirez said. "But I came to COD right out of high school to be a special education teacher. I wanted my mom and family to be proud of what I wanted to do. But after two quarters, I realized they were right."

Ramirez left COD to marry and then had four children. But her desire to return to school and begin studying Culinary Arts never diminished, and she finally enrolled at College of DuPage once more. In summer 2009, when Ramirez was one week away from taking her finals, her mother suffered two ruptured cerebral aneurysms and a massive stroke in Minnesota.

"I left my Garde Manger class one night and drove straight to Duluth, Minn., and was there with my family," she said. "She wasn't supposed to make it. But after a few days she started to stabilize, and my family said mom would kill me if I quit school. So I returned and took my finals."

Despite her mother's illness and raising her own family, Ramirez became a full-time student and finished her Culinary Arts degree in 2011, graduating with high honors. Her accomplishments at COD include receiving a Certificate of Excellence from the Chicago Foodservice Marketing Club.

"I have four children, and nothing comes before my children, but it's also time for me to pursue what I love," she said.

Currently employed through Aramark, Ramirez works out of Wheaton North High School as the head chef/assistant kitchen manager, prepping and serving all the breakfast and lunch food for every school in Wheaton. Although the job leaves little room for creativity, as the food is regulated by the government and comes pre-cooked, she is on a school schedule that complements her children's schedules. During the summer, she works as a sous chef/kitchen assistant at Gracious Hall, a small catering company in Geneva. She also cook all paleo foods (also called the Caveman diet) for friends and family.

Her goal is to one day work with Chef Jimmy Bannos, who owns and operates Heaven on Seven and The Purple Pig restaurants. Ramirez credits David Kramer, associate professor of Culinary Arts, for being her mentor. In return, he see the potential she can bring to a culinary career.

"Sarah's dedication and passion is infectious," he said. "She adapts easily to all situations and critically thinks about the task at hand. Sarah has the skills to be successful in many different facets of the Hospitality industry."

More about the Culinary and Hospitality Management program