Why Am I Here?

During the FVTC open house that was held this past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to give a campus tour to a high school senior and his “entourage of supporters” (his mother, 2 of his grandparents, and 2 of his siblings). I wonder if that young man realizes how fortunate he is to have so many loving, supportive people interested in what he plans to do with his future…

As I walk the halls and sit in the classrooms of FVTC, I’ve not been able to ignore that there are a few “lost souls” who appear to have less than stellar motivation and/or drive to apply themselves fully to their education. I think it’s such a shame to see hard earned money wasted. This isn’t just about money, though. I think it’s incredibly unfair to the instructors, who plan and work hard to train us to become the best we can be, for students to disrespect them by texting on their cell phones, whisper with friends sitting near them, or to fall asleep during lectures.
My point is that school, as in life, is about getting out exacty what you put into it. In my opinion, life is too short and precious for it to be a spectator sport. Play the game and enjoy yourself while you’re doing it! As Helen Keller said, “Life is a bold, daring adventure, or nothing.”


OK, off of my soap box and back to my story. The family I was with was interested in learning about what the culinary program at FVTC offers. Being in that program myself made it all the more enjoyable for me, and I was happy to show them around. At one point in the tour, I mentioned that I’m enrolled in the culinary arts program, at which time the mom asked, “What made you decide to get your culinary education here? There are 4-year culinary schools close by, aren’t there?” THERE IT WAS…The opportunity to answer “the question of all questions”! Frankly, I’m surprised that I didn’t pass out from the sheer excitement of being able to share my love for my school. I explained to her (while trying to maintain eye contact with all 6 sets of eyes!) that there most certainly are other options for obtaining a great culinary arts education, but that none of them would afford me the opportunity of a hands on learning experience in the kitchen while simultaneously taking the necessary general education and core credit classes I need for my Associate’s degree. In other words, I’m gaining more knowledge in a shorter amount of time (2 years vs. 4) and at a lower per-credit cost. Don’t get me wrong…I’m sure that a private school education is awesome for some people, but it wasn’t a great fit for this unemployed girl. I need to learn and apply my knowledge in the work force as soon as possible. The fact that Fox Valley Technical College’s culinary arts program is accredited and the instructors and curriculum are certified by the American Culinary Federation sure didn’t make my decision a difficult one either!


This week’s recipe is one that is sure to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night. The fact that it’s a budget meal makes it one of my favorites. Nearly all of the ingredients were on sale, so this delicious chowder cost me just $1.42 per serving to make! The clams were the best deal, costing only $1.00 per 6.5oz can at CVS! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Have a fantastic week and I hope you’ll stop by again soon!

(Picture source: www.figis.com)



Yield: ½ gallon (approximately 8 bowls)



2 oz butter (1/2 stick)

8 oz chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)

8 oz chopped celery (about 4 stalks)

½ tsp. minced garlic

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

3 (6 1/2 oz.) cans clams

8 oz (about 4) medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups frozen corn niblets

16 oz (2 cups) chicken broth

8 oz (1 cup) clam juice (or juice from canned clams)

½ tsp. thyme

½ tsp red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)

salt and pepper, to taste


Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, jalapeno, and garlic; cook about 3 minutes or until tender.

Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and whisk to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and clam juice and bring to a boil.

Add milk and all other ingredients and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian Donovan
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 19:57:50

    Great article, great video and have I told you how yummy your clam chowder is, too? I’m so proud of you for your effort and what you’re taking out of your educational pursuits!


  2. Tracy Brown
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 16:35:25

    What a wonderful post! And I am so glad that the prospective student had YOU for a guide. (Hmm, not only a supportive family joining him, but a bright student in the culinary arts program who is also kind and quick-witted? His lucky day indeed!)

    And here’s the thing: Whenever I talk to a friend who is interested in learning my opinion about what “junior” should do regarding college (that is, two year versus four year school), I always suggest visiting great two-year schools and learning about 2+2 programs they may have with four-year schools (if a Bachelors or more in in the plans). Not only is it a great way to spend money set aside for education in a SMART way, it also allows junior to really determine what field he or she wants to study and major in.

    There are so many wonderful two-year schools with excellent professors! Why not make it a part of the college decision-making process? Families can also contact four-year schools and speak to transfer advisors about the two-year schools they suggest and ask as to which schools that they may have a transfer credit articulation agreement in place.

    Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox. I’ll end with these last items:

    For the record, I graduated from a four-year school, and although I loved it, I think people should also consider two-year school options.


    That recipe looks yummy. I’m going to have to start a Becca file soon! LOL!

    Great post – oh and I love the video! (So did G.) Do you know who the musical group is? Catch ya over at HI! 😉


    • beccacit
      Oct 09, 2010 @ 18:33:40

      Tracy, Thank you so much for your insightful comments and sweet compliment. I agree that attendance at a 2-year college can serve as a wonderful, cost effective stepping stone to those who plan to pursue a Bachelor’s degree down the road. Actually, I know of a couple of students who originally attended 2-year colleges in preparation for attendance at a 4-year college, but changed their minds after they realized that they would be able to enter the workforce sooner with their technical education, and with great skills to boot! Everyone’s experience is different and it’s a wonderful thing that education can be tailored to meet our needs.

      I stumbled across that video during my research this past week and simply loved it! The name of the song is “Live is Life” and the group is named “Opus”.


  3. Tracy Brown
    Oct 11, 2010 @ 19:35:39

    Hi again Becca – you are so right! I am meeting more and more young people who are entering two-year schools and realizing that they are able to get into their chosen career faster and just as efficiently. (And with less debt!)

    Having good advisers, from parents to high school and college career counselors can really help students determine the best way to reach their career goals and decide which educational track will work the best.

    I think really educating parents on higher ed choices is absolutely necessary. I hope high schools are making that a priority these days!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: