A Healthy Serving of Education
Zakiya Cottingham earns degree while blending culinary lessons and family dinners
Zakiya Cottingham brings her education home to her five children every night. It’s one of the main reasons why she enrolled in the culinary program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®).
“When you’re a mom, you get so used to cooking the same things over and over,” Cottingham said. “I bring dishes home with me, and my children really enjoy it. The bonus is that I have the ability to make everything healthy for them.”
Cottingham served her family more than just food, though. She also gave them a taste of higher education and the work that goes into career building.
The 35-year-old graduates from Tri-C this month with an Associate of Applied Business degree in culinary arts. In addition, she will receive four culinary certificates that assert her professional expertise.
Cottingham said she pursued culinary arts as a career path given her love of cooking and the job opportunities opening in Northeast Ohio’s vibrant food scene.
“I have so many friends who went to college, but they don’t have careers in what they went to school for,” said Cottingham, who lives in Garfield Heights. “I didn’t want that to happen to me.”
She is currently working at Café Avalaun in Warrensville Heights in a position acquired through connections at Tri-C.
Spring semester will bring Cottingham back to Tri-C’s Hospitality Management Center of Excellence, where she plans to complete work to earn a certificate in food and beverage operations to expand her resume.
Cottingham’s dedication to education and her craft has caught the attention of her children. She said one her proudest moments came at a parent-teacher conference when she heard that her 6-year-old daughter set a goal of becoming a baker “just like mommy.”
“I wanted to set an example for my children,” Cottingham said. “You’re never too old to learn, and you’re never too old to finish something you started. Expanding your mind is an amazing thing.”
Cuyahoga Community College will celebrate the academic achievements of more than 1,800 graduates on Dec. 18 at Fall Commencement. Check our News and Events page in the days leading up to the ceremony as we highlight members of the Class of 2018.
December 13, 2018
Tammy London, 216-987-4812 firstname.lastname@example.org