Kent Geauga and International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute partner to form pathway to associate degrees for culinary students
Students taking classes at the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute (ICASI) in Chesterland have an open pathway to a Kent State University associate degree thanks to a new partnership between the cooking school and Kent State Geauga.
Students who earn credits at ICASI may transfer them to any KSU campus towards an associate degree in technical study, due to a recent agreement between the schools.
Courses in the associate of technical study degree program can be individually tailored to provide ICASI graduates a solid foundation to launch entrepreneurial and business endeavors in the culinary fields, including owning or operating a restaurant, managing a catering service or working in other food service businesses.
Susan Emens, assistant dean of Kent Geauga, said partnerships such as this one are important for regional campuses.
"They not only provide opportunities to be a part of the communities we serve, but also create meaningful pathways of purpose for students who seek to further their education," Assistant Dean Emens said.
Chef Stefanie Paganini, executive director of ICASI, said the culinary institute was created to give students the hands-on, practical skills they need to be successful in the food industry. The new agreement, she said, “allows ICASI the ability to offer our students the opportunity to tailor their education journey to meet their future career goals.”
She said ICASI’s founder, her mother, Loretta Paganini, "established ICASI to give culinary and pastry students a choice in their education. As the second executive director of the school, I am so proud to further expand her vision and offer our students so much more through this affiliation with Kent.”
ICASI’s Culinary and Pastry Arts Basic Techniques Certificate programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in food service. ICASI’s Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts Advanced Techniques Diploma programs prepare students for positions of responsibility within the industry.
Two types of students attend ICASI: high school graduates who want to pursue a career in cooking, and second-career seekers who have either retired or been displaced from their jobs or perhaps are finally ready to pursue their passion for cooking. These entrepreneurs, Ms. Paganini said, want the all the tools necessary to be a successful food service business owners in the Cleveland area and beyond.
Danielle Weiser-Cline, director 1 for Enrollment Management and Student Services at Kent Geauga, said there are a set number of classes that students will have to take to complete their associate degree in technical study. Among those classes, however, students will be free to select from areas such as business, human resources and accounting – to add a business layer to their culinary education.
Ms. Paganini noted how Geauga County is a unique blend of suburban and country living.
“We are blessed to be surrounded by local farms offering the best products in Ohio. Teaching our students how to take the bounty of Geauga County and showcase it through their cooking is one of our mission goals,” she said, “Our students go on to not only have successful careers but often create businesses, becoming job creators, as well. Creating businesses in Geauga, or working in local businesses, or even just supporting local farms and artisan food producers help to support the local economy.”
A local foundation can result in a global impact, Ms. Paganini continued. “Allowing local students the ability to learn in their own backyard helps to facilitate their understanding and appreciation of this. However, the love and respect for where ingredients come from don’t stop at the Geauga border. Our graduates work all throughout the United States and in Europe, bringing that knowledge and dedication to quality ingredients with them.”
She said education offers students choices, opportunities, a global understanding, and an appreciation for their hometown. “Through this partnership with Kent-Geauga, ICASI hopes to make that education more accessible with open doors for more people. It is a partnership that everyone in the community can benefit from,” Ms. Paganini said.