Student Spotlight: Jessica Sapinski

Jessica Sapinski

Jessica Sapinski
Major: Culinary Arts, Baking and
Pastry Arts

In 2005, Jessica Sapinski's father suffered a stroke, and during the difficult time that followed, she began cooking meals for her sisters.

"I found it so therapeutic, and I decided to pursue a career in the culinary arts," she said. "I enjoy taking simple meals and experimenting with different flavors as well as presentation of food. Watching my father's health come back has kept me motivated to complete my degrees."

It wasn't easy pursuing two degrees, in Culinary Arts and in Baking and Pastry Arts, and she managed to hold two jobs while doing so.

"When I started the spring (2014) semester, I was going to school a total of three days, working at the bakery on my internship four days a week, and working a full-time job as a manager at Walgreens five days a week. I always liked to joke with people and explained if I added up the individual days -- three for school, four for the bakery and five for Walgreens -- that my week consisted of twelve days," she said. "Of course I was tired from being awake almost 20 hours a day and having to work 16- to 18-hour days, but I loved my jobs and going to school. It was a different kind of tired that I enjoyed because I knew I was putting in good days."

At College of DuPage, she found a school that allowed her to be anything she wanted.   

"Looking back when I was taking my first baking class with Nancy Carey, it was intimidating because it was all new to me," she said. "Nancy Carey is an excellent baking teacher. I could never thank her enough for everything she showed me, and I continued to take all my baking and pastry classes with her."

While attending College of DuPage, Sapinski participated in three guest chef events held in the Culinary & Hospitality Center. She and three other culinary students helped to prepare a four-course meal for attending guests, and she worked one-on-one with each chef to prep, cook, plate and serve each course following a corresponding menu developed by the guest chef. One particular chef asked her to be on the front side of the line, where she was responsible for making sure the food looked perfect and to put the finishing touches on each plate. She was the last person to see the food before it went out to the guests.

In 2014, Sapinski finished her coursework at College of DuPage and was named one of the Outstanding Graduate finalists, graduating with high honors. She plans to enter COD's 3+1 program with Roosevelt University to complete her bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management and Tourism.

Her two ultimate goals are to be a head chef at a five-star restaurant and to open her own business, either a restaurant or a bakery. Sapinski thanks College of DuPage for providing the resources for her to succeed.

"The teachers in the culinary, baking and hospitality programs really inspired me and got my internal motivation going," she said. "I now know that I can go out into the world and accomplish anything I set my mind to. I love to express myself through food and making creative dishes for people. There is an overwhelming feeling of joy and accomplishment inside me when people get excited over the things I make.

"When I started, I was a lonely freshmen but now I have gained friends for life. I came to COD with an interest in food and fell in love with the school, staff and students. I would not trade my experience these last few years for anything in the world.

"For students going into the Culinary program, my advice would be to rise up to every challenge inside and outside of the classroom. Seize every option the Culinary program puts in front of you. This helped me grow as an individual and gain the confidence I needed to achieve my educational goals."

More about the Culinary and Hospitality program