PERU — Pulling a golden piece of flat Focaccia bread from the oven last Thursday was Kokomo resident Sonia Johnson’s final step in her two-year journey to realize her culinary dreams.
She will be the first person to earn a culinary arts certificate from Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region’s new culinary arts program at the Peru Instructional Site. Johnson is looking forward to celebrating that milestone at Ivy Tech’s commencement in Kokomo on Saturday.
“Graduation day will be all smiles for me. It’s a new chapter in my life,” the 32-year-old said.
The months leading up to graduation, however, were not always filled with smiles, Johnson explained. It was challenging at times to balance her education with her responsibilities to her three daughters, Layla, 9, Chloey, 8, and Sophia, 4. Her husband, Max, who is a middle school pastor at Crossroads Community Church, helped pick up the slack and other family and friends offered their support.
“[Max] has been a huge, huge blessing,” Johnson said. “My kids are my biggest fans. I walk in the door and they say, ‘Mom, what’d you learn today? What’d you cook?’
“Sometimes, as a mom, you want to quit because there’s too much on your plate. There’s not enough time in the day,” she added. “But luckily I’ve had the support of family and friends who would tell me, ‘Sonia, don’t quit. You’re almost there.’”
Landing an internship at Blair Ridge Health Campus in Peru added to the excitement — and stress — surrounding Johnson’s final weeks in the culinary arts program. But having that internship turn into a full-time job preparing meals for residents at the assisted and independent living facility has made the hard work worth it, she said.
“I never complain I don’t have energy for it because this is what I want to do,” Johnson said. “I like making people smile through their bellies. When I cook, I like to give them what they want.”