Joi Jenkins never thought of herself as college material while growing up in Spring Valley. That changed after her children began growing into their teens and Jenkins enrolled in a Grossmont College Regional Occupational Program (ROP) class in baking and pastry.
“At first, it just started out as a hobby,” Jenkins said. “But I just loved the program and wanted to continue.”
When Grossmont College expanded its program to include an associate of science degree in baking and pastry, Jenkins – then 35 – returned as a full-time student.
“It was a little intimidating at first,” Jenkins said. “I was a housewife raising kids, and I was going to school with people who were a lot younger than me. There were times I wanted to give up. But every day it got easier and people would start recognizing you and saying, `Hi,’ and I just got more comfortable.”
Comfortable and confident enough that Jenkins earned her way onto the Dean’s List and the Vice President’s List. Her dedication further paid off when Jenkins was presented with the Steven D. Price Memorial Culinary Arts Scholarship.
Jenkins will be earning her associate degree in June.
“I’m so grateful for the whole experience,” Jenkins said. “Grossmont College has meant a lot to me. I’ve made so many friends, the classes have been awesome, the teachers have been tremendous, the education so fulfilling. It’s just a wonderful place.”
It hasn’t always been easy. Along the way, her oldest son overcame cancer, her husband lost his job and the couple lost their home. Today, though, her husband is working as a chef at a San Diego retirement home, and the couple’s plans include opening a restaurant and bakery in the not-too-distant future.
Meanwhile, Jenkins has more to do at Grossmont College, where she works at the Griffin Grill. She plans to return to campus this summer as she embarks on securing a second associate degree, this one in culinary arts.