Childhood dream comes true for TSTC Culinary Arts alum

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – When Casandra Mendiola was a child, most children her age wanted to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. Not her. She wanted to cook.

Fast-forward to today. Mendiola now credits the Culinary Arts degree she received in 2009 from Texas State Technical College with helping her gain the knowledge, leadership and skills needed for her new position with IDEA Public Schools as a culinary supervisor.

Mendiola said she chose to attend TSTC because of the Culinary Arts program’s excellent reputation, as well as the fact that the campus was close to home.

“TSTC has a great culinary arts reputation, and the smaller class sizes made it easier to focus.”

Her passion for cuisine was something she gravitated to when she was very young, and eventually she decided to make it her career.

“When a child wakes up on Saturday mornings to cook, as opposed to watching cartoons, it only makes sense that you follow your knack for cooking,” she said. “I decided I couldn’t set aside my love for food, or making it, and wanted it to become part of my everyday life.”

Her time at TSTC not only cultivated her expertise in culinary arts, but it also equipped her well for life outside the classroom.

“Hands-on learning was a daily practice that gave us real-world experiences,” she said. “From the local community events to the on-campus weekly luncheons, TSTC was able to give me a feel for the demand of the field.”

The hands-on experience will come in handy when she begins her new position with IDEA Public Schools.

“I’ll help contribute to the creation and implementation of kitchen training, menu creations and recipes for the schools,” she said. “My areas are Texas and Louisiana, but I will be supervising additional states in the next few years.”

Throughout her collegiate journey, and next chapter, the common denominator in her life always has been and will be the importance of family.

“They’re my motivation. Everything I do is for them.”

To learn more about TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, visit tstc.edu/programs/CulinaryArts.