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Dana Nelson
A.A.S. Culinary Arts

At times, being willing to take the advice we so skillfully dish out can change the direction of our lives. That’s exactly what happened for Dana Nelson. After a conversation with a friend where she admonished him to pursue his dream she realized her current employment was a source of income but far from her heart’s passion. “I went on Google and did a quick search for Culinary Arts Programs and TCA popped up. I immediately called and made an appointment to learn more,” said Nelson. “My first day felt like the beginning of my life. I was a bit withdrawn because of situations in my personal life but being in my ‘element’ and being around other people who understood my passion really encouraged me daily. Honestly, The Chef's Academy became my escape from the struggles in my personal life. I would dive deep into every second spent on campus. When I was not at school, I would still have contact with some of my fellow classmates who would chat with me.”

A favorite memory of her time at TCA, North Carolina occurred at the end of her first term. She recounts, “Being the first class at the new campus felt amazing! We had to clean the kitchen for the new students and next class behind us and everyone was in great spirits, laughing and just enjoying one another. I will never forget that day!”As with most worthwhile endeavors, there were some challenges and for Nelson one was her internship. “While there were some trying moments I was able to respectfully and professionally complete my internship. It ended with the acknowledgement that I am, indeed, a Chef of integrity.” And that integrity was crucial with her four children (ages 5-9) witnessing every step of her journey. “They tell me constantly how proud they are to have “Chef Nel” as their mom.”Now, successfully self-employed as a personal chef, Nelson gives high marks to her time spent at TCA. “TCA opened my eyes and my mind to aspects of Culinary Arts that I had never encountered before. The Chef's have instilled a sense of pride and discipline in me that I have not lost to this day. Every place I am graced to visit I carry with me the principles learned at TCA and I always mention the fact that I am a graduate.”

Her advice for those beginning their culinary journey reflects her wisdom gained through experience. “I have never looked at myself as a role model to anyone I just wanted to be proof to the world that it’s ok to live your dream. Often times we become our own worst nightmares through unbelief, doubt and fear which keeps us in a cycle of just dreaming. When someone sets a goal for them-self it empowers them to reject ‘no’ or ‘you can’t’ and drives them to the point of ‘I will’ and ‘I did.’ Hold onto whatever goal you have set for yourself. There will be numerous inconsistencies in life that are beyond our control but one thing we can control is our consistency in not giving up! The path of Harrison College is simple, enroll-complete-succeed!”Noodle on that great food for thought… from a chef who has seen the proof in the pudding.