A decision between following her dream of becoming a chef and pursuing a career as a pharmacist meant that Aelia Cristea had a lot of thinking to do alongside preparing for her GCSEs at St Peter’s School, Huntingdon.

After attending a range of open days, and researching the options available, Aelia reached the conclusion that following her dreams was the best option and, after spending time at a Cambridge campus open day, she felt that Cambridge Regional College was the best place to achieve her goals.

“CRC left a good impression from the very first visit. It offered the study pathway I wanted to follow and the catering facilities were of very high-quality. This, coupled with teaching from industry experts, meant I had the opportunity to receive the best learning experience to help me develop my skills for the future.”

Aelia enrolled onto the Level 3 Technical Diploma in Professional Cookery and, while undertaking her studies, enjoyed additional learning opportunities such entering competitions, completing work placements and taking part in off-site industry visits.

Towards the end of her studies, Aelia, along with her peers, found herself caught up in a global pandemic and the subsequent closure of the College meant that traditional learning took a dramatic turn. In spite of the significant change in course delivery, from practical sessions to distance learning, Aelia found that she settled into online lessons quickly, although not being able to participate in the practical aspects of learning was one negative impact she did experience.

As the summer term came to an end, Aelia had a nervous wait for her results, particularly as her university place was offered on condition of securing her qualifications. In addition, the lockdown situation meant that she didn’t have anything on which to base her expectations as a result of no predicted results and no examinations.

Aelia said, “When I finally received my course grades I was very happy because I realised that all the hard work and devotion had paid off. I can honestly say that I had the best experience at CRC. The tutors were very supportive and knowledgeable showing me all I needed to know about the hospitality industry. I was giving so many opportunities and the additional support offered through the HUB meant there was always someone to support me. They helped me to make the right decisions for my future and I am now going to university to continue my studies.”

“Studying at CRC has prepared me as an academic and practical learner and I have been able to realise my passion, developing my drive to be successful in the industry. If you are a practical learner, whether it’s as a chef, a makeup artist, an engineer or a games developer, CRC is the right place for you. Students are given a lot of support and opportunities which will definitely help them achieve a successful career.”

Aelia is now embarking on her higher education studies at University College Birmingham where she is studying Culinary Arts Management.

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