Alaina Missbach, CIA culinary arts student, is the recipient of the Katharine Angell Scholastic Achievement Award and the Southern Wine & Spirits Endowed Scholarship.

Spotlight On: Alaina Reese Missbach '11Associate Degree in Culinary Arts

"Receiving tuition support meant I could spend time with my infant daughter and my husband. That time with my family was a gift for which I will always be thankful."

Describe your life prior to coming to the CIA.

I was born in the hospital at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, the daughter of a career military officer. I attended college at West Point, where  I met my husband, Kyle Missbach. We joke that we “honeymooned in Iraq,” as we were both deployed just a few short weeks after we got married. We spent those 11 months apart as I was stationed at Victory Base in Baghdad as a node center platoon leader and Kyle was a Dragoon commander engaged in direct combat. We both returned to Fort Hood, TX. Our second tour in Iraq began in October 2006. This time, both Kyle and I were stationed together and we spent 15 months there at Camp Taji.

What motivated you to attend the CIA?

Being a military officer and serving in Iraq was a great experience that I will always cherish. However, after 27 months of deployment, we decided it was time to start a family and pursue our civilian interests.

I had always wanted to be a chef but it wasn’t until Kyle brought home a copy of Cook’s Illustrated, which I devoured, that I shared my dream with him. He encouraged me to go back to school while he supported us. Kyle found employment in Danbury, CT, while I went to work at a local restaurant to fulfill my entrance requirements. In June of 2009, Eleanor, our first child, was born. I began to commute to classes at the CIA in February 2010.

What has been the best part of being at the CIA?

I felt at home in the Army and I feel at home at the CIA. I am continually amazed at the CIA’s diverse student body and the incredible chefs and instructors who share their love of food with us. Every time I finish a class I tell myself that was the “best course ever,” only to find out that the next class is even better! I love volunteering at the tutoring center, where I assist students in B and L blocks with culinary math, product knowledge, menu development, and nutrition course work.

What are your plans for the future?

Kyle has accepted a position as a diplomat with the State Department in Mexico City, Mexico. I’ll be graduating in December 2011, delivering our second child in January 2012, and moving to Mexico City in April! As a mom and an “accompanying spouse,” my goal will be to balance family life, professional aspirations, and the embassy’s mission, within the political and cultural climate of each country in which we live. I see myself involved in “culinary diplomacy”—engaging people though the common ground of food. I can connect people in a less formal way through the pleasures of the table.

How has your scholarship helped you?

Going back to school and commuting 100 miles every day meant that we went from two incomes to one, with a lot of additional expenses. Receiving tuition support meant I could spend time with my infant daughter and my husband. That time with my family was a gift for which I will always be thankful.

The Culinary Institute of America

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