In just two short years Zack Ward will earn an associate’s degree from Central Wyoming College in culinary arts, a path Ward never dreamed would lead him to not only an education but obtaining the work experience needed to become successful.
It was Ward’s mother who brought his attention to the uniquely designed culinary program at CWC, where classes are blocked for students to attend two months of intense classes in the slow season and work when tourist season is high.
“I was interested in furthering my education but I needed it to be monetarily feasible,” Ward said. “With this arrangement, you work when the tourist season is high. It’s not possible to go to class then. You are working too many hours, but you get great experience. Then you go to class during the slow season.”
Ward excelled in his program and was ultimately hired by CWC’s customized training department to deliver a training to a local senior citizen’s center to assist with their food service department.
“I was able to utilize what I had learned in my program of study and in my work experience as a prep cook to help their kitchen manager make prep lists, design menus, make organizational sheets for inventory; things like that,” Ward said. “I did seven sessions for her one day a week that helped her with time management, organizational tools, utilizing current inventory.”
Ward said using his education and experience to teach was extremely validating and made achieving his degree rewarding and that much more important to him.
“Something I also enjoy about culinary more and more as I continue in the field is the vast amount of techniques available to use to produce a result from A to B. When you learn these different methods and tricks it opens up many creative possibilities in your cooking,” Ward said.
He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming in outdoor tourism after he graduates with his associates from CWC in December. Until then, he will enjoy taking advantage of the living in Jackson.
“I love being a stone’s throw away from Teton National Park. During the summer I like to hike the trails, especially Lupine Meadows. It goes straight into the Tetons and is a spectacular climb,” said Ward.
Click here to learn more about CWC Jackson’s Culinary Arts program.