Empty Nester Finds Second Career at SCC

Sushma
Sushma Agrawal enjoys her time in the Food Service/Hospitality program at SCC.

Sushma Agrawal has lived in Singapore, India and the United States. She loves eating and cooking food from all over the world. She also loves learning how to create different types of dishes, and that’s why she enrolled in the Food Service/Hospitality program at Southeast Community College.

“Cooking is a passion for me,” Agrawal said. “I’m a very good cook. Even with the amount I know, which is immense, every day I am learning new things.”

Agrawal recently began her third quarter in the Food Service/Hospitality program at SCC. She already has a master’s degree in economics, but decided to take her passion for food a little further by enrolling in SCC’s program.

“It’s very hands-on and very affordable,” Agrawal said. She recently made the dean’s list and even earned a $500 scholarship. It’s been many years since she was in school, so she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I was a little nervous,” she said, “but I make friends very easily. I am willing to help other people in class, and the instructors are very friendly. It’s a lot of fun.”

Agrawal moved to Lincoln three years ago when her husband was accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Business. When her youngest daughter graduated from UNL in May, she became an empty nester. At that point she decided to expand her education. At first she considered studying nutrition, but a friend told her that SCC had a good culinary program. She’s never looked back.

“The education here is very good,” she said. “It’s so well-designed. From cooking to baking to creating menus. It’s amazing.”

Agrawal’s mother also had a passion for cooking and passed it down to her daughter. When she moved to Singapore for her husband’s job, there was a wide variety of cuisine. That expanded her multicultural knowledge of food. If she was still living in India, she never would’ve gone back to school.

“You cannot go back to school in India,” she said. “People don’t do that.”

After starting her third quarter at SCC, Agrawal is already looking ahead. She knows this much already: She enjoys cooking more than baking (“you can’t experiment as much”); she doesn’t want to work in a restaurant (“I want to have a job where I can be with my family, a restaurant is 24/7”); and she wants to teach at some point and maybe do some catering as well.

“First I want to work with some people, shadow, get some insight,” she said. “I do want to teach and spread the message. I used to teach stats, and I get pleasure from educating people.”

Even though the variety of culinary choices isn’t what she’s used to, she does enjoy living in Lincoln. She says it’s cleaner here, less crowded and easier to get places.

“We have more quality time here,” she said. “We love it here, and we love Lincoln.”

When her husband finishes his degree, there’s a good chance they will move once again when he finds a job. By that time, Agrawal will have completed her culinary experience at SCC. Perhaps she will be teaching her own cooking class, or maybe she will dabble in catering. No matter what she chooses, she will always relish the time she had learning a new trade at SCC.

“My experience has been very awesome,” she said. “Every day I’m excited for class, excited about new things. It couldn’t have been better than what it was.”

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For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher Haggar
Marketing Specialist
402-323-3395
ahaggar@southeast.edu