A job you love isn’t a job at all!

Mar 06, 2017Student Leadership Development Institute

By Kevin Ellul and Matthew Cowles

A Job You Love Isn’t a Job At All
mentor: Kevin Ellul

I graduated high school in a small town located in Southern New Jersey, and I grew up to love the art of cooking. I have grown to love not only cooking in general but the complete concept of hospitality. I also love and respect the ingredients that I work with as well as the new techniques that I learn every day. Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to be a chef–and a zoologist, artist, photographer, baker, and writer. Like most five-year-olds, I wanted to be everything when I grew up. However, this passion for animals, art, photography, baking, and even writing evolved into one cohesive title: chef. The characteristics of a chef or a cook, in general, involve passion. For starters, this career is hard on you. It pushes you down, wears you out, and causes you pain and agony–only to pick you back up and give you hope, experience, and a thick skin.

After high school, my passion for cooking became a lifestyle existing in the upbeat city of Philadelphia. I had finally enrolled in a culinary school at Walnut Hill College, a historic, colorful, friendly, and unique place where like minds come to co-exist and learn to become the best that they can. When I walked into my first kitchen class, my stiff maroon neckerchief itching at the back of my neck, I looked up and saw a man in a tall, white hat, a crisp, white apron, and a pair of black, chalk-striped pants. He greeted everyone with such a joyous attitude, and the first thing he stated was, “A job you love isn’t a job at all.” I took from that the idea that you should do what you love with great care, finesse, and a strong passion, but these actions shouldn’t be so effortful as to be forced. Instead, you should want to do these things because you love what you do and desire to be better at it. From that moment on, I carried that chef’s words with me throughout my two and a half years here. Every day, I try to improve myself by 1%. Therefore, every day, I grow 1% stronger, 1% more knowledgeable, 1% more respectable, and 1% more creative. By the end of the year, I’m 365% better than the previous year.

Throughout my time here, I have taken my thoughts and changed them into actions, learning from my mistakes. I started at the bottom and worked my way up within my career and my campus life. In the beginning, I started as a normal college student: afraid of meeting and losing friends, to ride on the subway for the first time, and even to wake up every day without having my family around me. I transitioned into a more comfortable and confident person by finding myself, working hard, and showing those around me that I care and I won’t give up. I was appointed a member of Walnut Hill College’s Residential Learning Committee, helping others when needed, directing them on a path toward success, and showing leadership. Now in my second-to-last term, I am a Student Leader (a great position offered to students who excel) and have received many awards for outstanding excellence due to my involvement at the College, perfect attendance, and maintaining a GPA above 3.7.

Being here has made me a better leader and my own individual person. Because of my leadership and passion, I’ve had the ability to create and execute a themed menu for the public out of thin air, my first being very successful, and, hopefully, my second coming this April. So many challenges have occurred as the years went by, as they will come and go throughout my entire life. I’m very excited to see what my future holds for me–and scared at the same time. However, I will keep pushing myself to become that 1% better in everything that I do. I will keep pushing to complete my goals, one of which is to obtain a master’s degree while another is to become a restaurateur.

Kevin Ellul, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2017

Doing What You Love
Mentee: Matthew Cowles

A few years ago, I could say that I had not a single clue what I was going to do with my life. I had read countless articles to try and spark a flame and get the creative juices flowing, but that never worked. Then after high school, I went to community college, still not knowing what life had in store for me. I took a blind leap into my studies. First, I started with a Liberal Arts major, hoping to find that spark in one of my classes. I did find something that interested me: my introduction to personal psychology. I decided to switch majors later that week. I loved this new road I had taken myself down, but after a while, I started to doubt myself. There was something, a thought in the back of my head. “Is there something else? How can I switch again?” I asked myself, “Could it be my love for food? No, I couldn’t be. I would never want to do what I love doing every day for the rest of my life. That would just take the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?”

A short time later, I was talking to a career counselor. Everything kept leading us back to food and my love for others. I knew then and there that I was meant to cook, which led me to my next leap. I scheduled a meeting at Walnut Hill College…I was so nervous. When I got there and began my tour, my nerves began to settle and my interest heightened. We walked into a kitchen and they were cooking seafood that day in class. The chef welcomed us in during their tasting, as they had just finished cooking and were going to talk about their dishes and try each other’s food. When the chef invited me to join the process, I was so intrigued. I felt as though I were in a fog, thinking, “Why had I not come sooner?” I am grateful to have met Chef McLean in that kitchen.

I enrolled immediately, without hesitation. I was no longer worried about ruining a hobby because I would be gaining a career. I’d like to think it is true that if you do what you love, then you will never truly work a day in your life. It changed everything for me. I was no longer struggling with school work and was getting grades I had never gotten before. I was never happier; in fact, I still feel this way. I owe it to Walnut Hill College for making me who I am today and proving to me that anything is possible if you put in the work. Given a second chance, I wouldn’t change anything.

My inspiration and the drive I have for cooking comes from my mother. She spares no expense when it comes to meals, always going the distance and never settling on a routine of the same seven dishes for the week. Instead, she tries new things and opens our minds and hearts to new foods and flavors. I love this industry, the people, the friends I’ve made, and the places I get to experience. There is always something to be done and always something waiting to be created, just waiting for the artist who can bring it to life.

Matthew Cowles, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2018