Friday, September 28, 2018

Reynolds Student Leaders Meet Reynolds New Leader:

Reynolds Student Leadership Fall Retreat

September 22 was a perfect end-of-summer day, and it was a Saturday. But, instead of hanging with friends, this group of students came to campus early, and they came to campus ready to work. 

These students are Reynolds leaders, and this is their fall team building retreat. Even if the weather is perfect and it's a Saturday, they are all in, and they are all here.

Twenty-two students - leaders of Reynolds leadership groups: Student Senate, JSR Lead, PTK officers and Student Ambassadors - came together with the goal of building relationships across their "borders" and talking about what it means to be leaders on campus. 

They spent the morning outside (they did get to enjoy the beautiful weather) working through low ropes team building activities. Afterwards, inside, they were joined by Dr. Pando who spoke about her vision for the college and gave the students a chance to ask questions and have open dialog. Dr. Wendy Bolt also stopped by to spend some time with these leaders.

The group wrapped up their retreat by taking a professional competency assessment with the goal of helping them identify areas where they need to concentrate their energy on development.  

At a time when the entire Reynolds community is working through this period of transition, student leader Grace Swal noted that there is an intense excitement about what will come. "Students have heard about, and read about, Dr. Pando. They are anxious to see what will happen here." Grace found Dr. Pando incredibly approachable and accessible, and was impressed that the "President" would invite students to come to see her and tell her what was on their minds.

Of the retreat, Grace had this to say, "It was good to be among like-minded students. It was good to find them, and spend time with them."

No wonder they all showed up on a beautiful September Saturday. 

No wonder there are so many smiling faces in the picture.

Meet Leah Exline – Instructor, Opticianry

School of Nursing & Allied Health

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up right here in Richmond Virginia. What I loved most about Virginia is that you can drive two or three hours to the beach or two or three hours to the mountains. My family was always finding new places to go camping in between my sister and my soccer games and dance recitals.  

What got you interested in Opticianry?
Coming from a medical background, I have always enjoyed helping others. In June 2011 on the way home from Virginia Beach, I was involved in a car accident that took me out of work for three months. After talking with one of my good friends, who had just completed the Opticianry Program that same year in May; she spoke about the wonderful teachers and great support throughout the courses.  Knowing I needed a change, I completed the program interview, enrolled and started classes within two weeks of the conversation with my friend. Registering for community service events and continuing education conferences are what keeps the fire lit.  
What is the best part of your profession?
Seeing a child smile the first time he/she sees their parents.  Watching the students bloom into the great Opticians.  

In your career so far what has been your greatest “ah ha” moment?
Realizing that I love teaching!! As a child I never thought I would have the patience to help students, but after graduation in 2013, a Managers role proved me wrong.  While educating new sales associates on optics, it was great when the “ah ha” moment happened for them and they started to understand why they are doing what they do with the pair of glasses in front of them.  

You are new to Reynolds. What brought you here?
I’m new in one way and not in another.  I started at Reynolds in 2006 with the Dual enrollment program at Hanover High School.  After taking a break, I came back to the Opticianry Program in 2011. 

Teaching Continuing education credits to the Opticians Association of Virginia enlightened me that standing in front of a group is not as scary as some lead you to believe.  

What has been your greatest challenge in your position so far?
Learning about the program's 45 year history. Taking a look at what has worked and seeing where we can make improvements for the students experience.  

What is your favorite Richmond activity outside of your work at Reynolds?
Spending time with my family, we like to go out and try new events/restaurants/activities.  

If you won $100 Million in the Mega Millions lottery what would you do with the money?
Make sure that family is taken care of first (housing, education) then some would go to charity, cannot forget buying the house in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, and what is left goes into savings.  I would not retire just yet because there are still so many people to meet and students to teach.  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thank Goodness for Sociologists!

Sociologists look at our world, identify our human habits, trends, or issues, and like archaeologists they dig deeper. The “shovel” of their trade is research. Sociologists use formal, step-by-step research to confirm or deny their observations or questions. Unlike archaeologists, sociologists can’t just order their shovels online. Sociologists must learn and develop their research skills through education and application.

Reynolds Professor of Sociology Dr. Gayle D’Andrea knows excellent research skills are essential for the success of her students. She also knows how excellent research skills and solid data can be used to unearth our most pressing human needs and lay the groundwork for solutions and change. 

So, in 2017 when she was looking for a project to challenge her Honors students, build their research skills, AND help them comprehend how their intended profession could change the world, like a true sociologist she posed a question . . . a question embedded deeply in her students’ world.

Do the trends of Reynolds students match those of other college students throughout the US? A major national research study found students experiencing food and housing insecurity had lower academic success than students without those pressures. Dr. D’Andrea challenged her students to use their sociology “shovels” and dig out an answer: were the pressures of student life at Reynolds the same as those of students in California, Texas, Missouri or Maine?

Her students began to dig. Following a standard research model they reviewed the literature, got permission from the college for their study, developed a survey instrument, put together a student sample, and conducted their research. The answer: yes, Reynolds student success was affected by food and housing insecurities in the same way as other students across the country.

But that wasn’t all. Dr. D’Andrea’s students compiled their data into a presentation delivered at the Faculty Symposium. Their work was so sound, Dr. D’Andrea then submitted their findings for publication to the VCCS academic journal, Inquiry. The paper is currently under review.

Aside from the excitement, the learning, and the full circle completion of the project, there was another important outcome. Not just one for the students, but an outcome for the whole of the Reynolds community: awareness of an issue. Then the question became, if food and housing insecurity affect enrollment and retention, what can we do to address these challenges?

In the fall of 2018 Dr. D’Andrea posed a new question to her next group of Honors students. A follow up national study had found that mental health and substance abuse also affected the success of college students. Was this true at Reynolds as well? Again, the students were challenged to follow the rigors of academic research to find an answer. Again, it was a resounding “yes”: Reynolds students experienced the same pressures.

And again the students prepared a presentation and delivered it, along with their professor, at the annual Faculty Symposium. Dr. D’Andrea remembered their comments: “I can’t believe I am doing this! I can’t believe teachers are listening to US!” For them, the project wasn’t just something to list on their resumes, they were excited that their efforts had an impact, and they understood for the first time on a visceral level that the academic process is relevant and can be used to influence change.

Indeed, what the students discovered – that food and housing insecurity, mental health and substance abuse impact the success of Reynolds students – could not have come at a better time. With the decline in enrollment and retention, the college administration is looking at all factors that contribute to student success and well-being, and like Dr. D’Andrea, they are asking questions: What can we do differently? How can we change? How can we use our knowledge and resources to help our students?

Thanks goodness for sociologists! With the help of Dr. D’Andrea, and the diligence and digging of her students, meaningful answers to these questions are beginning to surface.

(Dr. Gayle D' Andrea is pictured above, bottom row center, with her students. Back row left to right is Mary Fishwick, Grace Swal, Stephanie Cull, and Charles Raum. Bottom row left is Sarah Brown, bottow row right is Donald Cooper.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Zooniverse of Opportunities

What makes science, SCIENCE? Ask any science professor and they will tell you it’s all about the research - the thrill of discovering a bit of something new in one little corner of our big, beautiful world. But, scientific research can be time-consuming, expensive, and often hard to conduct without extensive training.  Despite these challenges, Professor Karen Neal knows her biology students need research skills, so she set out to find a solution, and what she discovered was a “Zooniverse” of opportunities!

The zooniverse is: “the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research.” Think “crowd-funding” with the contribution being research instead of money. In the “zooniverse” volunteer researchers – meaning students or anyone interested in a particular topic – can assist professional researchers and make discoveries and create new datasets that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. “With our wide-ranging and ever-expanding suite of projects, covering many disciplines across the sciences and humanities, there's a place for anyone and everyone to explore, learn and have fun.” 

Aside from being totally free, the true value of this amazing website is that the projects are real, the opportunities to practice the craft of research are real, and students communicate with professionals all over the world who are real. Imagine, from the confines of Richmond, Professor Neal’s students can help digitize a Danish collection of butterflies and moths, tag rainforest wildflowers, search for orangutan nests in Borneo, or follow the movements of thousands of animals on the Serengeti. And these are just a handful of the hundreds of projects offered. This is Biology with a capital “B”, well beyond the lab table and a microscope. 

But, that’s not all. Once their research is complete, students can then formalize their results and present their findings in a setting that simulates a scientific conference. They are challenged to communicate “in Science” to share their discoveries with peers and faculty – even the Dean. For students unaccustomed to and uncomfortable with expressing themselves, this requirement could cause more squeamish moments than their first dissection.

This experience has proven priceless for students such as Bryanna Mountford, pictured here with co-Honors student Jeramiah Meadows. Bryanna had Professor Neal’s Biology class, then through her summer internship she was chosen to present her research to an international conference in Canada. When asked if she was scared, she answered nonchalantly, “no, not really.” Bryanna had learned something well beyond biology from Professor Neal.

How did Professor Neal find the “zooniverse”? Professor Neal challenges herself just as she challenges her students. She had heard about other Honors programs where students doing some amazing things. She wanted to her students to have amazing opportunities too. Funding being what it is, she knew whatever opportunities she found would need to be without cost, but would need to be academic and professional. She knew a resource had to be out there somewhere, and she started to dig. Zooniverse was the result of her diligence and creative excavation. Thank you, Professor Neal.

When asked about her goals for her students, without the slightest of hesitation, Professor Neal lists three things she wants her students to take away: 1. A full understanding of the rigor that goes in to scientific research; 2. A realization that science is not scary or beyond their grasp; and 3. For them to tell others that science is not scary, or beyond their grasp. Personally, she wants each student, sometime during the semester, to have just one, at least one, “ah ha” moment. Then, she says, “I will feel like I am doing my job.” She pauses, and repeats, “I will feel like I am doing my job.”

In case you didn’t know, Professor Neal is also the organizer and the engine behind Reynolds Annual Science Night. Each spring for the past 15 years on the Wednesday before Spring Break, Reynolds opens its doors to the public for an evening of scientific fun. You never know what to expect. Everything from snakes to statistics may be demonstrated, presented or displayed by the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering. On March 14, 2018 over 500 people packed in to Burnette Hall on the Reynolds Parham Road Campus to get a dose of the riot of real science. Don’t miss the next Science Night in 2019.

Sylvia Clay – Engineering Instructor & Program Head

School of Math, Science, and Engineering

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in northern Virginia with my mom and younger sister. We didn’t have much money and we moved around a lot, but we always made the best of any situation.  I was often put in charge of my sister at a very young age while my mom was working and I think that heavily influenced who I am today.    
What got you interested in Engineering?
Just like many of my students . . . the paycheck. I had not even heard of Engineering by the time I went to Virginia Tech; I was a pre-med chemistry major. I was set on being a pediatric endocrinologist, but after talking to a lot of doctors about their home-life through med school, I decided medicine wasn't for me. I wanted to start a family sooner rather than later so a friend recommended Chemical Engineering. I had all of the right classes and the paycheck was great after four years of schooling. I soon learned to love the design aspects of Engineering and enjoyed applying ALL of the math I had learned.    
What brought you to Reynolds and how long
have you been here?

In graduate school, I decided I wanted to work in Community College because I really enjoyed student-teaching and tutoring. I taught part-time as an adjunct instructor for a semester and started at Reynolds full-time a year later in January of 2015.
What is the best part of being an Engineering Instructor?
The best part is definitely that I get to know the students throughout their time at Reynolds. I get to help them get started at Reynolds, I get to teach them and see the “ah-ha!” moments, and I get to watch them move onto the next stage of their degree at a University. I underestimated how truly fulfilling this job could be.
Teaching the courses is fun. I get to help students make connections and to apply the content they learned in previous math and science courses to problems they will eventually encounter in their careers.  
What is your greatest challenge in your position?
The most challenging thing for me is not being able to fix everything for every student.
Tell us about Reynolds new MakerSpace you and Salah Garada started?
We started the MakerSpace to provide students with a place to tinker and create in a relaxed environment. It’s open to the entire Reynolds community so we can facilitate conversations and collaborations between people with similar interests who may have very different experiences and backgrounds. We are holding monthly workshops where people can be exposed to different skills, crafts or technologies. I am hoping to get more members of the Reynolds community to host workshops in the MakerSpace so we can expand the offerings and showcase our collective knowledge. The space also serves as a place for the Reynolds Robotics Club to meet and for students to do homework inbetween classes.   
What do you like to do when you aren’t doing engineering-related activities?
My three children keep me pretty busy. I have a seven, five and one year-old but, I love cooking. I experiment with many different Asian cuisines especially Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, etc. If I have “free” time outside of that, I like needle-crafts in general, but I’m currently in a quilting mood.
If you won $100 Million in the Mega Millions lottery what would you do with the money?
I would buy a few fun things (clothes, a Tesla, etc.), pay for my family’s continuing education, start a scholarship at Reynolds, and give a bunch to St. Jude Children’s Research hospital.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student
Annamaria Zanetti

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I would have to say my creativity and motivation. I used to bake all the time as a kid and absolutely loved it. I enjoy sharing what I created with my friends and family.

As a kid I also danced (ballet, modern, contemporary), but once I stopped I wanted to still be involved in an art form in some way. So, I thought Pastry Arts would be the best option. Dancing and Culinary have some similarities, such as dedication and creativity.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
I am currently conducting my internship at Westhampton Bakery on Patterson Ave. Even though I have been there for about a week I have learned a lot already. Such as the proper way to ice a cake and the proper thickness for pie crust. I am looking forward to working with Chef Carrie Lammon and her team this semester. One thing I am excited about learning is how to work the dough lamentation machine.

What are you working on now?
I have recently started my Small Business Management Degree, with the intent to one day open my own bakery here in Richmond.

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
I enjoy the labs in the culinary kitchen. I like the labs because I can apply what I am learning in class.

What is your favorite ingredient?
My favorite ingredient(s) are sugar, butter, and flour because there are endless ways to use them to create different items.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
My signature dish are “brookies”, which have chocolate chip cookies on the bottom and brownies on top. All of my friends and family love the “brookies” and always ask for more.

Another item that I made once and everyone is asking for more of are my spinoff of a black forest cake, which is a chocolate cake filled with a cherry compote and vanilla buttercream. However, in my version, I made chocolate cupcakes filled with a cherry compote and topped with chocolate liquor buttercream; which I brought in for my 21st birthday.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
My end goal is to open up my own bakery here in Richmond; although, after I graduate there is still a lot to learn before I open my doors.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
My favorite restaurant is Mayas located on East Grace Street. Maya’s is run by Chef Maria Oseguera.

My first encounter with Chef Maria was when I severed her at the Short Pump Regal movie theater. Then I met her again at the Savor Event at the Jefferson Hotel in 2016. Since then Chef Maria has been my mentor and friend.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
The program is stellar; Chef Miller is demanding because he is dedicated to helping his students learn and grow. J Sargeant Reynolds students are so fortunate to have access to the Culinary and Pastry Programs. Anyone considering this career should look closely at the program here.

As a student, I recommend keeping all of your notes and textbook, as well as using the resources provided. Chef Miller and Chef Rounds have been extremely helpful throughout the program. I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me. Once I graduate, I will continue to reach out to them for help and advice.  

What made you choose the culinary program at Reynold’s?
Before attending Reynold’s, I did not know that there was a Culinary Program. I heard about it from a friend who participated in the Culinary Program. Thanks to her I would have never pursued Culinary Arts here.

Getting my Pastry Arts Degree has been a wonderful learning experience. If I were to go back in time I would still choose the same major.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Different Vision of the James

Capturing Richmond's James River as a cascading swirl of blue-blues and white-whites takes a special eye. It takes an eye capable of seeing vivid color where most of us see nothing but muddy brown. Engineer turned Artistic Photographer Scott Weaver has that kind of vision.

J. Scott Weaver recently made a generous donation of 22 of his James River Alive! waterscapes to the Reynolds Art Collection. Richmonders may have seen the James flood, may have tubed in it, or watched its levels recede in the summer months, but these 22 remarkable canvases reveal the River as most of us have never seen it before. 

Scott used a number of techniques to create these photographs. Their beauty is a result of Scott's creative use of camera techniques, digital processing, and giclee printing.* He employs all of his talents in his work and has well earned the distinction of Artistic Photographer.

Scott lives in Henrico County and is a member of the Camera Club of Richmond, and is Digital Director of the Richmond Digital Photo Club. Scott's photographs have been exhibited throughout the Richmond area. Solo exhibits of his James River Alive! works have been displayed at the main Richmond Library and the Virginia Eye Institute. 

Scott is also generous with his time and shared the following profile about himself and his art:

Were you born and raised in Richmond? If not, where?
I was born and raised in central Illinois, near Peoria. I moved to Richmond in 1983.

How did you get started with photography?
Photography has been a life-long hobby of mine. I had a dark room under the basement stairs when I was 11 years old.

My interests have always involved computers, ham radio and photography.  After college, I worked as an electrical engineer involved in digital applications.
In the 1970's I was considering leaving engineering and took a series of photography courses at the SMU Academy of Visual Arts in Dallas. The emphasis was on commercial product and fashion photography mostly in a studio setting.
In the end, I decided to stay with engineering, leaving photography as serious avocation.

How do you get started with digital photography?
My first encounter with digital imagery was in connection with my engineering work at Texas Instruments in the early 1980's. We were using mainframe computers to do image enhancements that were a really big deal at the time but are now commonplace. 

I began using digital cameras and Photoshop in 2000. I still remember the steep learning curve with Photoshop and the struggle to work through examples I could find in magazines and a few books. User friendliness has improved a lot since then.

Your donation to Reynolds is a collection of striking photographs of the James River that look almost like paintings. What did you do to capture the James that way? 
Mostly it was many trips to the river! The rapids at Belle Isle and at Pipeline Park were the best locations. I discovered that the best blue colors for the water came from cloudless skies near the middle of the day, which is not the best combination for traditional photography. I often took a wide range of shutter speeds and overall exposures for any given scene. Getting detail in the white water turbulence required HDR-like (High Dynamic Range) layering in Photoshop. I also used various edge enhancement techniques on those sections to bring out the water motion that I wanted. The blue sky reflections on the water were often boosted with Photoshop. The muddy color of the James was not the look I was after.

I think the "painting" look comes from the high level of detail that results from blending multiple exposures and printing them on canvas. Richmond Professional Labs did an excellent job of making the prints.

In your “gallery” on the Richmond Digital Photography Club website your photographs have a wide range – a staircase, a street scene with umbrellas, a car, etc. What is your favorite subject and why?
My interests evolved over time. Many years ago I was seeking out old barns and houses. Then I started visiting New York from time to time and did street photography there. After a class or two with David Everette, an accomplished photographer here in Richmond, I was fascinated by the James River. 
My most recent project has been studio product photography of several mandolins that were hand-made by Dr. David Cohen (a retired faculty member of Reynolds).

I sometimes see photography as a series of challenges: shooting shiny mandolins is difficult -- let's see if I can do it; street photography can be scary -- let's see if I can do it; David Everette's work is outstanding -- let's see if I can approach it. 

Presently my focus is on travel photography -- in retirement I have taken several European river cruises and other trips that offer their own challenges for shooting. It is necessary to quickly evaluate scene for exposure, composition, and shooting while coping with the stresses of traveling in a foreign land.

You are active in several photography clubs around Richmond and are obviously passionate about photography. What are your favorite tools of trade?
I use a Canon 5D mark III camera and a small Leica point-and-shoot.
Photoshop and associated plug-ins are definitely important tools of my trade. I Photoshop almost all my photos in some way or another. I am producing art that I freely edit to get the look I want. 

Lately I have been experimenting with image manipulation using various filters and plugins. I am still amazed at the range of effects available in the digital domain compared with the things I attempted to do in the darkroom years ago.

How much time do you devote to this pursuit?
In retirement my schedule is quite random. When I am pursuing a project, such as the mandolin website photos, I may spend several hours per day in setup, shooting and post production. But I often take long breaks from the hobby and wait for the next project to emerge.

What photographers do you most admire and why?
Jerry Uelsmann - his darkroom-produced composites really intrigued me before the digital age. I attempted to do some of them when I had a darkroom. Thank goodness Photoshop came along!

Garry Winogrand, Cartier-Bresson and others. Urban street photography and in-the-moment images were early inspirations for getting more involved in photography.

David Hockney - I am impressed by his free-wheeling imagination in creating amazing images from ordinary scenes.  I have attempted to create my own Hockney "joiner" collages but I am not ready to publish them.

The work of David Everette was the inspiration for the James River images.

*  Giclee printing is one of the finest print production processes available today. It involves a 12-color ink jet printer (traditional printing is 4-color), acid free paper, and pigment based archival inks.

Meet Noora Qasim

Education Support Specialist

School of Humanities & Social Science

Your co-workers say you have a special heart for helping Reynolds students, and that you are persistent and tenacious. Were you always so determine and caring? 
I have done many volunteer jobs in hospitals and refugee shelters in Iraq. Since then, I have always had a strong desire to help others. Engaging myself in such activities taught me valuable skills that do not appear in job descriptions, such as patience, caring, effective listening, and being mindful of others’ stress. Knowing that my work has a huge impact on others is what motivates and makes me enthusiastic about my responsibilities. When I started working in the ESL department at Reynolds, I recognized the importance of bringing these qualities to this position. 

Tell us about your job here at Reynolds.
My top priority is showing students honest willingness to have them as students at Reynolds. 

I am determined to look for ways to help ESL students, boost their self-esteem, and encourage them to constantly seek help or advice, and guide them through the college regulations without overwhelming them.
What is your favorite thing about your job? 
Having the opportunity to help students find their way to finish this program successfully. Meeting and getting to know students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Enjoying the challenges I face during the process of helping the students.

What do you find most challenging? 
Most of the ESL students need to develop a new language in order to accomplish their challenging goals to start a new life in the United States. This actually makes me take the responsibility to make this transition as attainable as possible so that they do not lack motivation or become discouraged to finish. 

The language barrier makes ESL students dependent on the ESL department to get started in college, such as applying, following through on their admissions’ requirements, scheduling placement testing, enrolling in classes, and completing their financial aid applications. It is essential to be patient all the time because it takes a while for new ESL students to adapt to the college setting.

What is your favorite thing to do in Richmond? 
I am pursuing a double major, business administration (to transfer to VCU to major in Financial Technology) and Accounting (with intent to take the CPA Exam). I am also taking online courses in computer programming so, studying is my main concern. In my free time, I go to the gym. I enjoy cooking. I also love going to art galleries and creating stories about the art pieces, especially modern art. I love instrumental music concerts.

If you won millions of dollars in a jackpot lottery what would you do with the money?
Buy a house. Help my family and friends, have one million dollar grants for students who have no family support, start my own business, and start up an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student

Mary Ammons

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I’ve always been interested in cooking, and working the last few years in the industry made me want to expand my knowledge and prospects for future employers and, ultimately, investors.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
I’m in the second year of an apprenticeship program, meaning I’m almost halfway done.  

What are you working on now in class?
I’m taking a baking class with Chef Johnathan Highmore.

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
My favorite part of class is pulling out and tasting the product and knowing it came out right, then figuring out how to make it better.

What is your favorite ingredient?
I like to continuously learn by using new techniques and ingredients; I don’t have one specific favorite ingredient, but I do enjoy working with indigenous fruits and vegetables and game meats.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
My friends would say my 3-Cheese Lobster Mac 'n Cheese.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
Continue to work in different areas of the field, such as on farms as a cook or for non-profits, and to learn as much as possible about food from the very beginning of the seed until it’s either eaten or disposed of so I can go on to create my own business or organization that strives to use incredible ingredients ethically and responsibly and teach others how to do the same.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
 I’m torn between Acacia and Kuba Kuba.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
What several chefs that I’ve worked with and learned from over the last few years have told me is that you get out what you put into it. Basically, find something in everything you do that interests you.

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student

Willoughby Harrington

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I have always loved working with my hands. Cooking for me is a form of meditation.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
Once I am finished with my current internship, then I will be finished with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts.

What are you working on now?
I am working at the Inn at Little Washington. When I finish with my internship at the Inn at Little Washington, I will be finished with all of my Culinary Arts classes. 

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
I have always appreciated practicing knife cuts.

What is your favorite ingredient?
Pork Belly. Pork Belly is very versatile. A lot of cuisines have found different ways to use it, including, bacon, salt pork, pancetta, etc. It can be grilled, fried, sautéed, cured, and smoked.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
Coffee Rub Pulled Pork Butt.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
I would like to travel across Asia and cook for some of their best restaurants, like Gaggan or Nahm, both located in Bangkok, Thailand.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
I have a soft spot for Shagbark. The cadre of chefs that have worked there over the years taught me everything that I currently know about working as a line cook. Also, the food, presentation, and plate execution are phenomenal.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
Leave your ego at the door. Don’t take anything personally. Be patient. Build relationships with your peers. Do stamina/cardio workouts in your free time; you’ll be on your feet a lot. Also, laugh, or else cooking will seem like a chore.

December 6, 2018 Update: Willoughby is weeks away from completing his internship at The Inn at Little Washington and they have already offered him a cooking position. Considering The Inn is listed as one of the 100 best restaurants in the world, being offered a position there straight out of culinary school is an amazing accomplishment. Expect nothing less from Willoughby or from any student coming from Reynolds Culinary Arts program. A blog article is soon to come about Willoughby's adventure at The Inn.