Makenna Barnes, Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts student at the CIA in California.

Student Bio: Makenna Barnes

Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
Hometown: San Diego, CA
“The chefs at this school are amazing and you can learn so much from them. I love the CIA—coming here was the best decision I have ever made.”

How did you become interested in your major?
From a very young age I had a passion for baking. As a little girl I always helped my grandma bake for every occasion. I would always tell my family, “When I grow up I want to be a cooker!” As life went on I continued to take classes on the side for cake decorating and started my own not-for-profit business, Minions4Miracles. I was baking cupcakes and raising money for the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Hospital, San Diego. In junior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to really pursue this career. I took it into my own hands and got a district transfer to attend a school with a two-year culinary program. From then on I knew this is what I was meant to do.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
My grandma—she was always cooking dinner in the house. Every Christmas we’d make hundreds of cookies to give out to different relatives and people at my parents’ workplaces. I always looked forward to that time spent with her and I really loved to bake.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
I wanted the best chance possible to get into the CIA because I knew it was the best place to go if you wanted to be successful in this industry. For freshman and sophomore year of high school, I went to the public school that I was assigned to by the district I belonged to. But since I wanted the best chance to get into the CIA, I decided on my own to find a new high school that had a culinary program. My parents did not like the fact that I was changing schools and told me that if I wanted to do this, I had to do all of the paperwork needed and complete the process myself. I did it all and got into Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, CA. It was the best decision I made throughout high school, and it prepared me for the CIA.

Why did you choose the CIA?
When researching culinary schools I knew I wanted to go to the best one out there. The CIA offers its students such an amazing program and I wanted to not just get a certificate but to get a degree, and the CIA offers that. I then visited the Greystone campus and immediately fell in love with the people, the school, and the town.

What do you like best about the CIA?
The chefs. When coming to the CIA I was a little scared that the chefs would be mean, but once I got here I realized right away that they are some of the most amazing people out there. I have made a bond with all of my chefs. They are willing to do so much for their students to help them get the best opportunities and to help them succeed in every way. The chefs are so genuine, and I feel very lucky to learn from such amazing teachers to get the most out of my learning at the CIA.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I am director of community engagement on the SPICE (Student Programming Igniting Campus Entertainment) board at the CIA at Greystone. I find ways for the students to help give back to the local community here in St. Helena.

What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
I would love to have my own television show on the Food Network one day. I love to be in front of a crowd and perform, and I love to bake. So, combining both things would be a dream come true. I would also love to work in all areas of pastry. I have a new interest in chocolate work and would love to explore that area more. I do not have a set plan on what area of pastry I want to commit to and would like to explore the industry. The one goal I have set for myself is to work hard and to do my best at everything I try.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
If I could give any advice I would say to work hard in all of your classes and to take every opportunity that you can to work with different chefs. The chefs at this school are amazing and you can learn so much from them. I love the CIA—coming here was the best decision I have ever made.

Contact Us

The Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499