Friday, September 21, 2007
Graduating Summa Cum Laude
The school used to have a different “honors” system where in order to graduate with honors; you would have had to have collected an honors recommendation from 80% of your classes. Unfortunately there was a flaw in this as the recommendation was entirely at the instructor’s discretion. You could have earned an “A” in class but not have gotten “honors”. There is a good reason this system was put in place. There are times when a student, who may not be academically successful, really puts in the effort and thusly deserves the extra recognition…however, as it turns out, because “honors” was at each instructor’s discretion, some didn’t think it was worth their time. Others though classroom only courses (those without kitchen time) didn’t warrant honors so it was difficult to gain that very much needed 80% of classes, which turned out to be 16 (or 17) out or 21 classes. When I had first started in Aug of ’06, my first instructor did not inform us of the honors system. As it turned out, in my first 4 classes, Basic Skills, Safety & Sanitation, Food Science & Nutrition, I did not get any honors, although I got all “A”s. I was determined to graduate with honors but it was not meant to be. As soon as I saw my non-honor classes reach that magic number of no return, I lost all enthusiasm. But the school has since changed the honor system and is not basing it on grades (yippee!!). I was in the clear having reached my last class with a 4.0 GPA…now in comes the hullabaloo.
My last class which was the Careme Room, Restaurant Production, had us cooking for the public. Each day, simply by coming to class on time, and not leaving before we are dismissed, as well as coming in full uniform, we received 5 points. In addition to the 5 daily points there were a couple competencies as well as the final exam. In my mystery basket competency, I scored 72 points. (not bad but not great). In my other competency (cooking eggs 3 ways, making & cooking pasta, cooking beans perfectly, making brown sauce, etc…) I missed a couple points because I failed to make a sauce. Granted I could have very easily did what many other students did, which was have one person make a large batch of, pasta, sauce, etc… and take some of that and claim it as my own to get my competency checked off, but I didn’t. Thus, I missed a couple points for sticking to my guns. The day prior to the final exam, I asked the Chef Instructor if I could take a peek at my progress. I knew that I had missed some points but was confident that I would still come out with an A…my confidence was shattered when I discovered, as per his record keeping system, even if I were to get a perfect score on my final exam, I would finish the class off with 90 points. One point shy of an “A”. As I scanned through my points, I found that I received 4 points instead of 5 on one of the days in addition to the points from my competencies. The reason for the 4 points? On the first day of class, we were told to line up so chef could check our uniforms. This included our chef coats, and pants, commis hats, neckerchiefs, aprons, side towels, name tags, correct shoes and all black or all white socks. This is where I failed. I was wearing white socks with a blue stripe. NEVER once have I had an instructor check my socks…so I got one point docked. I did not find out how I did on my final exam until after I was already in Italy. About a week or so after I arrived I checked my grades on my student portal. Indeed I had gotten a B for that class shattering my perfect GPA. I had already accepted that I did not score as well as I could have on my competencies. I was ready to accept that if I did less than perfect on my final exam, then I totally deserve my “B”…however, after writing to my instructor and finding out that I had a perfect 100% on my final, that it was that one point for the blue stripe on my sock that kept me from graduating with a 4.0, I had to take action. I wrote to the Head Chef in charge of the academic program, explained my case and asked if that one measly point could be considered. Chef W was already familiar with me personally from the time I volunteered for an event around Thanksgiving/Christmas to the other times when he substituted for absent instructors as well as greeting him in the hallways when our paths crossed. He also admired some salt dough work I did in my Advanced Garde Manger class…but he never wrote back.
A couple weeks after firing off that email I checked my student portal as I was surfing the net on an off day and discovered that my 3.9 whatever GPA had been changed to a 4.0 and that my grade for my final class was now an A from a B.