Culinary degree program partnership offers area students career options

Published 5:16pm Thursday, July 31, 2014

Career-specific degree programs are becoming increasingly important as employers look for workers who have the necessary knowledge and skills to go to work from day one.

In keeping with that trend, Copiah-Lincoln Community College offers a program in culinary arts, and now the local college has teamed up with one of our state universities to allow students to transition into a four-year degree program in the field.

Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles and Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig signed an agreement last week to formally establish their new Two Plus Two program in culinary arts.

“We are very pleased that our students will now have an opportunity to build on their associate degree from Co-Lin and continue their education at The W,” Nettles said.

As any good career-specific program does, Co-Lin’s culinary arts technology program exposes students to techniques they will use when they go to work. Included in the program are basic cooking methods and the science of cooking with hands-on emphasis in culinary equipment and tools, techniques and specialty ingredients. Students are exposed to all types of cuisine, including American, classical and international. Training in a commercial kitchen is the heart of the program.

Co-Lin has about 30 students in the program, which includes the Wesson and Natchez campuses. With the Two-Plus-Two partnership, students will not only be able to complete their associate’s degree at Co-Lin, but they also will be able to move seamlessly to MUW’s courses.

While completing their remaining two years toward a bachelor’s degree at MUW’s Culinary Arts Institute, students will be able to focus on concentrations in food journalism, food art, entrepreneurship, nutrition and wellness, and culinology.

Completing the bachelor’s degree will open additional career options to the students, including jobs as executive chefs, caterers, food stylists, food photographers and small business owners.

We applaud Co-Lin and MUW for this partnership and look forward to seeing Two Plus Two become the go-to degree program for area students interested in working in the food service industry.

We encourage Co-Lin and university officials to continue to stay in touch with employers in the field so that course programs can evolve if the industry’s needs change in the future.

The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Foundation and area elected officials also need to work to recruit new restaurants and other businesses to the local area so these students will have the jobs here when they’re ready to go to work.

Otherwise, they might have to take their diplomas elsewhere.