TSTC Culinary Arts student worker gains career experience before graduation

Photo courtesy of Leilani Lopez.

Dreams of opening her own restaurant led Leilani Lopez on a path to studying Culinary Arts at Texas State Technical College. While her journey at TSTC has not been a cakewalk, she is grateful for the support and guidance that she has received from her dedicated instructors.

The Philippines native is a student worker in the Culinary Arts department and is expected to graduate at the end of this year.

“I have always enjoyed cooking and baking,” she said. “I wanted to make it a career. My journey at TSTC was difficult at first because I did not know there was more to culinary arts than cooking and baking. However, the instructors have been extremely helpful. They encouraged me to keep learning, and every day has brought me something new.”

Culinary Arts instructor Emma Creps said that Lopez has excelled during her three semesters as a student worker.

“Right now she is in her final class before she graduates,” she said. “She has been a terrific student worker. Very dedicated.”

Lopez said she is not a student who likes to observe from the sidelines.

“I enjoy prepping, baking, and conducting inventory,” she said. “I like being helpful. I am not the type of person who likes to stand and watch. I am always willing to learn more.”

Her dedication to go above and beyond extends well into her education.

“My original plan was to just get my certificate,” she said. “It was my husband who encouraged me to go for my associate degree instead. I was nervous at first. I did not think I was going to make it.”

Through her time at TSTC, Lopez has relished competing with her peers.

“My favorite memories are the competitions the department has,” she said. “They helped me realize that I was able to work well under pressure. They helped me become a competitive person and define my strengths and weaknesses.”

Lopez said TSTC has helped her prepare for her career beyond her education.

“I have learned how to be more organized and use time management wisely,” she said. “It has made me more confident and comfortable with myself. I was very shy when I started this program, but now I am headstrong, and I look forward to succeeding in the future.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.