The Culinary Institute of America

Kristin McGinn

Spotlight On: Kristin McGinnBachelor's Degree in Culinary Science

Class of 2014
Hometown: Hackettstown, NJ
“I live every day feeling lucky to be here. I don’t feel like I’m busy, ’cause everything I’m doing I love!”

Lovin’ Every Minute of It
“I can’t believe I got so lucky!” That’s what CIA student Kristin McGinn says about her experiences at the college, and her story is a perfect example of how hard work, enthusiasm, and a little bit of serendipity can lead to great things.

It’s the story of an artist, a scientist, a pastry chef, and an athlete. And the story essentially started back in high school, when Kristin began to discover the things that really make her happy.

“Freshman year, I started playing volleyball,” she recalls. “I’d been involved in sports all my life, and something about volleyball just clicked for me. It’s both mathematical and team-oriented. There’s a lot of geometry with the angles of the arm and striking the ball. Plus, you can’t do anything by yourself—it’s your unit on one side of the net against their unit on the other side.”

By her junior year, Kristin had also developed a duel interest in art and chemistry which further expanded into a love of baking—but struggled to find a path that incorporated all those things. After spending two semesters at a more “traditional” college, she recalled her high school art teacher’s suggestion that culinary school might be an option. “I saw the CIA was offering a bachelor’s degree, and that was the big selling point for me.”

When she arrived on campus, another selling point became clear. “As luck would have it, my first year at the CIA was also the first year the volleyball team began official competition,” she says. “I’m now in my third year, I’m a co-captain, and I love it! We have a great bunch this year, with some freshmen joining us who are really passionate about the game and about their studies.”

Kristin is equally passionate about her own studies. She successfully completed the associate degree program in baking and pastry arts, and when it came time to declare her bachelor’s major, another stroke of luck came her way. “I was so excited to see that the CIA launched the culinary science bachelor’s degree,” she explains. “I was always told to pick either science or art, but here was an amazing chance to do both.”

She jumped at the chance. “I’m a member of the very first CIA culinary science class, and I love it. We have a different lab every day, we get into the dynamics of heat transfer, ingredient functionality, flavor science—what happens literally when the food hits your tongue,” she explains. “It’s so much more than just a food science program, with lots of hands-on applications. We even did a class project with a focus group, asking people how they would feel about a healthy version of a Twinkie!”

As she starts to focus on her career, Kristin sees a wide landscape of opportunity on the horizon. “The CIA opens up all kinds of possibilities,” she says. “We’re a bigger industry than many people think. I might get into flavor science, doing some consumer behavior testing, or I might look into the research and development side of things, working in test kitchens.”

Her time at the CIA has done plenty to prepare her for the challenges ahead, both in and out of the kitchens and labs. “I’m crazy busy,” she says. “I’m on the Dean’s Council, I’m an admissions student ambassador, I’m a student blogger, and of course there’s the volleyball team—all on top of my culinary science classes.”

Seems like a lot, but for Kristin McGinn it’s just right. “I live every day feeling lucky to be here,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m busy, ’cause everything I’m doing I love!”

Read more from Kristin at the CIA’s Student Blog.

The Culinary Institute of America

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