Austin Markland, CIA baking and pastry student

Spotlight On: Austin Markland '16Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts

Hometown: Bear, DE
“What most influenced my decision to pursue this career is the happiness that food can bring to people. This school is 100% dedication and professionalism.”

How did you become interested in your major?
I went to St. Georges Technical High School in Middletown, DE and attended the culinary arts program they provided. Prior to being accepted into the school I had my mind set on becoming a pediatric cardiologist. Instead of getting into Emergency Medical Services (EMS) like I planned, I was accepted to the culinary program instead, my third choice. Extremely disappointed and upset, I dealt with the class even though I had no desire to be there; my chefs could even see how upset I was.

Even though I did not want to be there, I started to like the class. Everyone would ask me questions on how to do stuff and look at my plate to compare it to how they garnished or arranged the food on their plate.

Sophomore year came, and I became interested in getting into forensic science and working for The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). I had always had a mind for solving problems, and I figured what better way to put it to good use than figuring out crimes?

Jumping to junior year, I continued to have my mind set on becoming a forensic scientist—still oblivious of my real passion even though it was always right in front of me. During the years I would always participate in events that my chefs would cater or volunteer for. Junior year is also the year students would cook for the teachers; we had our own restaurant that the students would run, and everyone was assigned a job in the kitchen. For example, my favorite job was desserts. My partner and I would always get excited when It was our week to bake.

Then came November of my senior year, right before Thanksgiving break to be exact. My best friend Shayla Moss and I worked for our chef and would stay at school when everyone else would take off for CO-OP, leaving the whole kitchen for us. We were baking pumpkin spice cupcakes at the time, and when we featured them in the school’s Hawk Cafe, all the teachers and students who tried them went sweet tooth savage! Everyone was asking if they could put in orders for the holiday weekend and of course we said yes! Not only did this put a little money in my pocket, it changed my life.

That Friday, the last day in school before we left for break, Shayla and I were packing up the last few orders we had made and noticed we had a few extra. We asked our chef if we could give them away to teachers and with the warm heart he has, of course he said it was ok; he said it was a great idea, to be exact. We had about two dozen left, and the first person to pop into my head to give them to was our student activity coordinator, Ms. Crumlish. She worked so hard to organize all of our dances and parties that I felt as though she deserved to be rewarded. When I handed her the box of treats and told her they were pumpkin spice cupcakes topped with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with all-spice seasoning ,she looked confused. So I explained that it was my way of saying thanks to her for everything she had done. She turned to me with her eyes starting to tear up and thanked me kindly. That was the moment when I discovered my passion for baking and realized it was right in front of me the whole time. I knew then that I wanted to make people happy for the rest of my life, and in my case that would involve mixing particular ingredients that resulted in a baked good someone would enjoy.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
Not so much a “who”—what most influenced my decision to pursue this career is the happiness that food can bring to people.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because my teacher/chef in my high school was a CIA alumnus and introduced me to the college. It then resulted in my doing research on the school and deciding that it was the right choice for me.

What did you like best about the CIA?
What I liked best about the CIA was being surrounded by people who have the same passion that I do.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I help out with the Welcome Team every block and I volunteer for many events.

What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
My plan is to travel a bit and experience as much as possible. After, I would love to work my way up to the top and be able to share my passion with some of the top chefs in the world.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
I would say get ready to hit the ground running at a lightning bolt pace. This school is so fast-paced that if one isn’t dedicated to studying and making time for reading than this isn’t the right school for that person. Also, this isn’t like any ordinary college; it’s not a place to party and try things you weren’t able to while at home. This school is 100% dedication and professionalism.

The Culinary Institute of America

1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499

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