Culinary students at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School learned that the activities they like the most may help them chart their education and career paths.
Kathryn Kueppers, Miss Minnesota 2019, visited high school culinary classes on Tuesday, March 3, and talked about her own journey from someone without a passion for her studies to someone with a clear, purposeful and enjoyable educational and career path. She says a lifelong love of baking is the activity that led her to her own studies in the culinary arts, first at St. Paul College, in St. Paul, Minn., and then as a Family and Consumer Science (FACS) Education major at Minnesota State University – Mankato, in Mankato, Minn. Kueppers hopes to eventually teach students like the ones she addressed on Tuesday on her own FACS classroom.
Kueppers’ educational path is currently on pause as she fulfills her duties as Miss Minnesota, but she plans to continue on her educational course this fall. She has about a year-and-a-half of study until graduation. She shared with the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School students that her plans were not, however, always so clear. In fact, it was her association with Sauk Rapids-Rice High School’s FACS teacher, Mary Levinski, that helped her discover her own career path.
The pageant winner and teacher met a couple of years ago, prior to Kueppers attaining the Miss America title. Levinski brought a group of students to check out St. Paul College’s culinary program when Kueppers worked in the school restaurant. Levinski and Kueppers struck up a conversation about Kueppers’ future plans and the teacher encouraged her to investigate FACS education and teaching as a career possibility. Kueppers did and found that her true passion in life was in teaching others about food and nutrition.
A year or so later, Kueppers and Levinski unwittingly met again, this time at a Minnesota Association of Family and Consumer Science conference. By this time, Kueppers, had been awarded the Miss Minnesota title, and was a featured speaker at the event. She mentioned a special teacher who had encouraged her to continue her studies as a FACS education student. Levinski, an audience member listening to her talk, knew she was that teacher. The two met later and discussed how a class speaking engagement would be helpful to both Levinski and her students at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.
On Tuesday, Kueppers told Levinski’s students that her first choice of study in college was not fulfilling. She revealed that she needed to be honest about what she really wanted to do and how she ultimately wanted to spend her time. She wrote out a list of activities that she enjoyed and after talking to Levinski, discovered her true focus and career path.
At the end of her presentations, Kueppers spoke about the perks of being crowned Miss Minnesota. She said the networking and connections she’s made over the past year of her title have been invaluable to her. She has gained confidence and skill in public speaking and in listening to others. She has benefitted from several scholarships and has had the opportunity to travel statewide and also throughout the country. She even hosts an in-house cooking segment on the Children’s Minnesota Hospital network called “Snack Attack with the Dude!”—a platform where she can showcase her culinary skills and utilize her love of teaching others about food and nutrition.
Levinski and the students learned a lot from Kueppers and enjoyed her visit. Levinski says, “I am pleased my students could learn from Kathryn and know that their future doesn’t have to be decided by the time they graduate from high school if they keep their options open and explore the things they truly like to do.”