Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  MARQUETTE – Lee Ann Wiley of Skandia loves to bake – a trait nurtured by her late grandmother. She enrolled in the hospitality management program at Northern Michigan University with the goal of turning her passion into a career. In May, Wiley received a sweet and rich surprise that rivals any of her fresh-from-the-oven creations. She was selected as one of two students in the country to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Wiley was recognized at the annual NRAEF “Salute to Excellence” in Chicago. The event brings together leaders from the restaurant and food-service industries, as well as educators and student honor delegates from more than 100 hospitality management and culinary schools nationwide.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  “I figured there was no way I got the scholarship because they said the winners would be notified in advance by e-mail,” Wiley said. “I must have misread something because I went there just assuming I would learn some things, meet people in the industry and have fun anyway. They asked me to sit at a designated table for the banquet, but it still didnÂ’t sink in until a staff member talked to me and the other student about the scholarship and they called us up and took our pictures. I couldnÂ’t believe it.”

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Wiley will receive $5,000 per year for two years. She is nearing completion of her associate degree, but might use the extra financial support to pursue a bachelorÂ’s. When not attending classes at NMU, Wiley hones her craft at Babycakes Muffin Co. in Marquette.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  “I started working there in 1989,” she said. “I was doing cashiering at first, but Kim (Danielson) needed someone to bake and she encouraged me to try it. Baking came easy to me and I loved doing it, so I thought, ‘I could make a career out of this.Â’ But if I wanted to do that and get ahead, I knew I would have to go through NorthernÂ’s program and learn things I couldnÂ’t teach myself, like the business part and pricing structures.”

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  One of her professors at NMU, Leslie Cory, said the scholarship brings national recognition to the university and its hospitality management program, in addition to serving as a symbol of personal achievement for Wiley.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  “I can totally believe that Lee Ann won because she is so deserving of this award,” Cory added. “She is an exemplary student and leader. She has a strong work ethic, is very professional and gets along with everybody. Lee Ann was one of two Northern students who went to Chicago and had a chance to rub elbows with restaurant and food-service leaders, from star chefs to owners of national conglomerates. Every facet of the industry was represented.”

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  What ingredients combine to form a successful scholarship application? Students vying for a National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation award had to submit documentation of grade-point average and related work experience, in addition to letters of recommendation. They also wrote personal essays in response to questions about what the scholarship would mean to them, how education will help them meet future goals, and how they overcame adversity in a particular situation.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  WileyÂ’s effort garnered a split of the Thad and Alice Eure Memorial Scholarship, named after the co-founders of the Angus Barn Restaurants and past-presidents of the National Restaurant Association.

 Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  “Their daughter presented it to me at the banquet,” Wiley said. “ItÂ’s exciting and I still canÂ’t believe it happened. I just wish my parents and grandma were still around to see it. My grandma was a great influence on me and taught me a lot about baking. I think sheÂ’d be happy that IÂ’m so interested in it now.”

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director