By Dave Kich
BRECKSVILLE – It’s late on a Monday afternoon, but Judy Cozza isn’t slowing down. The 64-year-old Broadview Heights resident is ready to learn.
The fact that her classroom is a kitchen makes it all the more enjoyable.
“Hanging around all these kids keeps my mind active,” Cozza said with a laugh during her fundamentals of culinary arts class. “When you get older, you need to keep your skills sharp. I want to learn to be a better cook and not be afraid to tackle new recipes. Then, I’ll be able to dazzle my friends.”
Cozza, a student at Cuyahoga Community College, has every opportunity to reach that goal this fall semester at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center in Brecksville.
Thanks to a new articulation agreement reached in August, Cozza is among the rapidly growing number of Tri-C students now taking hospitality management and culinary courses at CVCC.
“We have worked with Tri-C in the past so we already established a good relationship,” said Liz Walton, director of adult education at CVCC. “This is a natural fit for us. Our [high school juniors and seniors] at CVCC will be able to segue nicely into an associate degree program at Tri-C.”
Tri-C students can now earn their Associate of Applied Business Degree in Hospitality Management with a concentration in culinary arts at CVCC. It’s the same program offered at Tri-C’s state-of-the-art Hospitality Management Center at Public Square in downtown Cleveland.
“There has been tremendous demand for this program,” Walton noted. “Tri-C has a stellar reputation, so there’s been plenty of interest. Plus, [CVCC] is easily accessible from anywhere in Cleveland.”
Despite a short turnaround time – roughly three weeks – to get word out about the program, each class averages 10-14 students. CVCC offers more than 4,300 square feet of kitchen/classroom space in addition to a 3,300 square-foot, fully operational in-house restaurant called The Valley Inn.
Tri-C is offering five hospitality management /culinary classes this semester, which began Sept. 10. In addition to fundamentals of culinary arts, introduction to baking and pastries; introduction to hospitality; customer service; and sanitation and safety courses are also on the menu.
“Cleveland is a real ‘foodie’ town,” said Kate Coleman, program manager of hospitality management at Tri-C. “There’s been a reawakening in this city. You don’t see as many restaurant chains nowadays as ones that are individually owned.”
The associate degree in hospitality management can be earned in four semesters by full-time students. Several students have aspirations of moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“Taking classes at CVCC is definitely convenient,” said 23-year-old Emily Perrette, a Valley City resident and Medina County Career Center graduate. “This is a great location. I eventually hope to transfer next fall and work on my bachelor’s in hospitality management at Kent [State University]. Having Tri-C at the CVCC, though, gives you everything you’d need to succeed.”
High school students at CVCC who earn both their ServSafe and ProStart certifications – both industry standards – can seamlessly transfer to Tri-C. They’ll enter the hospitality management associate degree program in the second semester sequence, expediting their path to completion.
Coleman notes that enrollment in the hospitality management program at Tri-C is up 30 percent this fall. It’s a trend that isn’t showing signs of fatigue.
Registration for spring semester begins Oct. 22. Classes begin Jan. 14.
“This is an incredibly timely industry to be in,” Coleman added. “The jobs are out there. You can always find employment.”