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Baker, leader, future small business owner

Culinary student has sweet dreams

Editor’s note: Your Dream is Our Dream: Celebrating Student Success brings you conversations with students about their dreams and the educators who ignite and inspire them. In a new series from School News Network, students from all levels of education share in their own words and pictures how learning connects them to achieving their goals and exploring their ambitions. An initiative of Kent ISD, Your Dream is Our Dream showcases student success and how teaching and learning help make dreams come true. 

Kent ISD, Comstock Park — On a countertop in a temperature-controlled room in the bakery at Kent Career Tech Center, the 25-pound first layer of Erin Mangan’s three-tier wedding cake project is taking shape. 

The project is one of Erin’s favorites from her time in the program. Now a 13th-year student, Erin, who is from Comstock Park and attended Comstock Park High School, has big plans to springboard from the Tech Center to owning a business. 

‘Erin is so dedicated. She’s the natural leader when I’m not there.’

– Don Henderson
Erin Mangan at work on a wedding cake

“My big dream would be to own a bakery or small cafe,” Erin said. For now, she wants to continue taking college courses and return to the Tech Center as a teaching assistant. She has been offered a position in the Advanced Pastry Arts program which she is currently part of.

“I’ve tried all sorts of different things,” Erin said of her experience at the Tech Center. She found her current passion thanks to a class assignment. Tasked with designing a cafe, Erin dreamed up a breakfast-themed stop called “Jeanie’s Dream.”

“My aunt Jean passed away five or six years ago, she would always make good fudge, scones, cookies,” Erin said. “That’s the type of food I grew up with; it’s my comfort food.” 

In her third year with the program, Erin is a leader in the bakery. Interested in management as well as baking, she has been practicing by directing second-year students and helping out with their projects.

“Erin is so dedicated,” culinary program instructor Don Henderson said. “She’s the natural leader when I’m not there.”

Erin is grateful for the opportunities the Tech Center has provided, including free dual enrollment in GRCC classes and connections in the industry made through instructors. 

“I’ve also learned a lot of skills here,” she said. “A hundred different things.”

Erin Mangan, second from left, helps the program’s staff oversee first and second-year students

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Abigail Ham, SNN intern
Abigail Ham is an intern reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She is a junior at Calvin University. She is the managing editor of Calvin’s student newspaper Chimes and editorial assistant for the academic journal Pedagogy. She also enjoys creative writing of all sorts.

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