May 20, 2016, Lansdale, Pa.--Jacqueline Ramos started cooking at age 13. Preparing dinner for her parents and six sisters became a daily ritual.
“It basically just started with rice and beans for us and some kind of a protein,” said Ramos. “I just gradually learned more things, cooked more and more and cooked for church and cooked for family. I was never a big baker. I have sisters who, during the holidays, would make cute Christmas cookies. I don’t have the patience for that.”
She found a renewed patience for baking after taking a Wilton course at an A.C. Moore store near her Hatfield home in 2013.
“It was just like ‘wow. I like this.’” Ramos recalled. “I did one little cake here and I did one little cake there.”
By January 2014, Ramos, who had worked for more than 20 years in business administration, had enrolled at the Culinary Arts Institute at Montgomery County Community College to pursue a new career.
On May 19, Ramos, a 44-year-old wife and mother, graduated with an associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, as well as a certificate in Culinary Arts. She will delivered the student commencement address to more than 1,550 MCCC graduates.
“It’s such an honor,” she said. “I love my school so much. I love representing my school. I’m so passionate about it.”
Speaking on behalf of MCCC is not new for Ramos. Earlier this year, she served as the student speaker when a partnership between the College and Johnson & Wales was announced. Ramos will be the first Montco student to benefit from the partnership when she continues her studies at Johnson & Wales while seeking a bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service Management.
She credits her education at Montco – and the scheduling flexibility the College provides – as leading her on the path to baking and culinary success. Along the way, Ramos helped judge a cooking contest and led several culinary enthusiast classes.
“I’ve learned so much,” Ramos said. “I have friends and family who ask me to make custom cakes.”
When she’s not making Sponge Bob or Paw Patrol fondant cakes or creating flowers by hand from gum paste, Ramos keeps her eyes on the end goal.
“I want to open a pastry shop and maybe offer a light breakfast and lunch menu,” she said, adding that baking, pastries and offering customized cakes will be her business focus. “It went from ‘this is an interest,’ to ‘wow, this is a passion now.’”
- Theresa Katalinas
Jacqueline Ramos delivers the 2016 student Commencement address on May 19, 2016 at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by John Welsh