Growing up, Hanna
Christiansen loved being in the kitchen while she helped her grandmother cook.
“My love for culinary/baking
began when I watched a tutorial on piping buttercream decorations,” she said.
“When I tried, I failed miserably, but my heart told me that I was going to be
a chef one day.”
She chose to go outside her
comfort zone and attend The Career Academy, which would take her outside of her
home school, Lincoln Southwest, and focus on what she loved to do. TCA is a
joint venture between Southeast Community College and Lincoln Public Schools.
High school juniors and seniors can earn dual credit in 16 different career
“Choosing to attend TCA was a
difficult decision for me because the shy side of me was scared I wouldn’t fit
in, but the adventurous side of me was eager to try something new,” said the
It was at The Career Academy
where she flourished, both in the classroom and at competitions. She traveled
throughout the region as well as the nation. She was the first TCA student to
win the Commercial Baking category at the SkillsUSA Nebraska competition this
year and advance to the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky. By
placing first in the baking competition, she earned three full-ride scholarships
to culinary institutes around the country. She chose Johnson & Wales in
“I spent part of May and all
of June practicing three days a week for eight hours each day,” she recalled.
“I had seven hours to prepare nine-and-a-half pounds of wheat bread baked into
three different shapes, eclairs and cream puffs, chocolate chip cookies, Danish,
apple tarts, savory scones, and decorate a four-layer cake. I was able to use a
lot of my knowledge I had previously gained from other mentors and
Since she previously competed
in 2018 in the Culinary Skills category, she had a good idea of what she had to
do this year to compete at a high level.
“Chef Maybell Galusha spent
endless hours of her time helping me to prepare for the competition. She always
believed in me, even when I was hard on myself,” Christiansen said.
“It’s exciting to see
students apply the industry skills and professionalism they have learned at The
Career Academy and SCC in competition formats,” said Galusha, chef instructor
at TCA. “When students are able to handle stress, take risks and achieve
personal success, they are well on their way to a successful future career.”
Christiansen gives a lot of
credit to her experiences at TCA and is thankful she made the choice to go
outside her comfort level.
“TCA has given me so many
incredible opportunities,” she said. “I’ve gotten the chance to meet employers,
instructors and some prestigious chefs. I absolutely love how hands-on the
classroom experience is. I never would’ve gotten as far as I am now sitting in
a high school FCS (Family & Consumer Science) classroom.
“The most important thing
I’ve learned from my TCA experience is to never give up. No matter what
criticism people throw at you, how stacked the odds against you are, as long as
you walk out of a class or competition knowing you gave it your all, that’s
what makes you a winner.”
Christiansen will start
college at Johnson & Wales in September of 2020 in the baking and pastry program.
Her future career goal is to earn her teaching degree and become a culinary
For more on The Career
Academy, log on to https://home.lps.org/tca/.