Faculty Mentor: Prof. Elizabeth Schaible, Hospitality Management, NYC College of Technology
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Therese Savery-Connors says, “I was nine when I wrote my first college application essay. It was to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, and I told them all about how I wanted to be a chef when I grew up.” Graduating as the youngest in her high school class at 17, Savery-Connors wasn’t as interested in cooking as she was in changing the world: she sat on the town council, ran peer counseling groups, and had already taken classes in politics and economic development at SUNY New Paltz, where she eventually completed just over 40 credits, but left without a degree. Not surprisingly, she did go back to her first love, cooking.
“I have a thousand tales to tell of a dozen years in kitchens across America: the resorts, the cruise ships, the formal French apprenticeship that earned me the pleats in my toque.” She volunteered to cook for people in New Orleans and Houston after Hurricane Katrina. “Every stressful detail and painful memory, helping a family, a city, a people, reminds me of how truly human I felt then.” Her degree plan in CUNY BA can be seen an obvious outgrowth of her character and experience. “I put together the idea for my studies in emergency food service because it fits my career experience as a chef, my spiritual calling as a volunteer, and my appetite for education.” Her goal is to combine these elements to benefit people in disaster situations, working with government and nonprofit agencies such as FEMA and the Red Cross.
Savery-Connors, working with Prof. Schaible, chose courses from NYC College of Technology, John Jay, Brooklyn, and the College of Staten Island for her program, courses like Hospitality Workforce Management, Nutrition for Food Service Professionals, Emergency Planning, Resource Development in Human Services, and Public Policy Analysis. She was accepted to the NYU/Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine Health Career Opportunity Program Summer 2011, and assigned to their Vocational Counseling Dept, which helped her develop the social service aspect of her degree in an area where many disaster victims require assistance. Additionally, she volunteers with Harrison House, a small non-profit on Staten Island whose primary service has been providing sober housing facilities for men in rehabilitation programs; it will soon be branching out to develop a resource center and referral service for their clients and the community.
In Spring 2011, she was awarded 15 life experience credits for her work in the Culinary Arts, Baking, Dining Room Operations, and Food and Beverage Cost Control.
Savery-Connors came highly recommended to CUNY BA by her supervisor and colleague at the Culinary Institute of America, who wrote: “Tess has a gift for learning, giving, and giving learning, and she is always at the top of her game. She is a great team player and the best example of great service for the CIA students as she showed hot to simultaneously reach out to guests with warmth and comfort and still get the work done efficiently. I am delighted to see how she has synthesized her experience and true calling to create a degree studies program. Now it seems certain that she has a channel to apply her vigorous mental talents in initiating a much needed area of study.”
She was accepted to the new Master’s in Disaster Resilience Leadership Science at Tulane University for Fall 2012.