By Neesha Hosein

From crunching numbers to crafting gourmet food, Dorothy Carter chose San Jacinto College as her steppingstone to a new career. The culinary arts major will graduate in spring 2023 from the North Campus with a certificate of technology.

While cooking has been a lifelong interest, it was not her bread and butter.

“This major is a total career change for me,” Carter said. “I worked primarily in banking and real estate, but I chose culinary arts because cooking has always been my passion. Cooking is who I am.”

She chose San Jac because of its reputation and convenience to home.

Dorothy Carter

Dorothy Carter

Why the bold move?

Carter is a licensed Texas realtor and has also held the titles of real estate clerk and financial service representative. She believes “sometimes you just know when the time is right to make a change,” and the moment came when her lifelong love of cooking took the wheel.

“My love of cooking is not a hobby but stems from memories with my mother and grandmother in the kitchen,” Carter said. “The love and how to cook, not to mention the smells and conversation, put me right back there today. I still cook teacakes that are a hit, just as they were so long ago.”

Overcoming challenges

Going back to school in her 50s was a concern for Carter.

“I hesitated to become a student at San Jac because I thought the curriculum would be too difficult or challenging and I would get lost in the crowd of younger students due to the age gap,” she said. “‘Boy, was I wrong. It was the best experience ever, and the curriculum was actually a perfect fit.”

Once she realized insecurity was causing her hesitation, Carter found ways to overcome her anxiety.

Understanding the assignments was a challenge, one she overcame by asking questions. Building relationships has been her favorite part of the college experience, and Carter believes she pulled through because of her “faith, family, and the support received at San Jac” from professors and peers.

In the kitchen, comfort food is her favorite food to cook but with a healthier spin. She enjoys tweaking an original recipe to make it her own. In doing so, one aspect she finds challenging is learning to work with unfamiliar ingredients.

“Another challenge with cooking is the clean-up afterwards,” she said. “Even though it is imperative to clean as you go, there will always be clean-up at the end of a nice meal.”

Advice to others

“My best advice for handling stress is to communicate and not be afraid to ask for help,” Carter said. “For new students, my advice would be to take school seriously, ask questions to get a better understanding, and do the work because it will pay off in the long run.”

To those who are considering a career change, Carter advises to go for it.

“People should believe in themselves and their decision to go back to college or adjust their career path later in life,” she said. “Do what you love. Don’t shy away from the challenge. Surround yourself with people who support your decision.”

What’s ahead?

Carter is looking forward to her new adventures in culinary arts.

“After graduation my career plans are to work in some capacity within the hospitality industry,” she said. “My dream job in the hospitality industry would be working in a culture where I can thrive and grow. I would someday like to own my own bed and breakfast.”

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