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TCA student wins competition and scholarship

Christiansen prepping batter.
Christiansen preparing her baked items.
Hanna C.
Christiansen with her medal.
bread
A sampling of baked goods.
cake
Christiansen's cake.

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 pathways.

“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 recent graduate.

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 Denver, Colorado.

“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 competitions.”

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 educator.

For more on The Career Academy, log on to https://home.lps.org/tca/.

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