R.W. Hiller Scholarship awarded to Jordan Johnson
By: Amy Behrendt
Excited? Definitely! Determined? You bet!
Jordan Johnson had a lot of emotions running through him as he prepared to leave for Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI to start his college career. But, one might say there were just as many emotions when he found out he was awarded the 2012 Robert W. Hiller Scholarship from the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA).
Johnson recalled the day he found out about the award, and realized his hard work had paid off. “When I first saw that I needed to call to find out the results of the interview, I had thoughts: Either this is going to make this day so much better, or it can be a lesson to learn from,” Johnson said. “When I called, I have to say, I was a bit more than a little nervous. I waited to hear one of two things the phone call would tell me.
“As I heard him (WBA Executive Director Dave Schmidt) begin to congratulate me, I suddenly felt the need to jump up and down with joy. I knew I couldn’t do that, ‘cause it would make too much noise on the other side, so I waited until after.”
Johnson was one of 14 applicants for this year’s award, and ended up as one of the five finalists. All finalists went through a phone interview with the WBA Scholarship Committee. Serving on the committee were WBA Board of Directors, President Joe Crubaugh; and Ken Heil.
Deciding to attend Johnson and Wales was an easy choice for Johnson. He had made the school his choice as a middle school student. “Actually, the thought came to my mind during my eighth grade year,” Johnson said. “I had a home economics teacher who had gone there, and as being such a great teacher, I went and checked the school out.
“I was amazed, being an eighth grader, that I could actually be in love with a school that I had to wait almost five more years for. From that day forward, I always put my best foot forward, hoping that I would earn my place in Johnson & Wales University, because I knew that this school was the school of my dreams. Now, it is the school of my reality.”
With school underway, what is Johnson looking most forward to? “The thing I would have to say that I am looking most forward to about school would have to be the experiences that I will have,” Johnson said. “Why? Without experiences, people can’t learn from common mistakes. I look forward to looking my mistakes in the face, and trying again because what kind of a baker would I be if I didn’t challenge myself to do the things I couldn’t master at first?
“At school, I will learn many skills and fail at many more. But who said I can’t learn from them and better myself? No one did. Experiencing many things and learning from my mistakes would have to be what I am looking most forward to about school.”
And as far as classes go, Johnson is most excited to tackle the baking classes. “When I think about classes that I would be excited about, hands down, it would be my baking classes,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I love baking. But do I really know EVERYTHING? Of course not. I can’t wait to learn how to create sugar sculptures and create chocolate art. Even the simple tempering of chocolate excites me. Anything to do with baking just burns the fire inside me even more. This is my passion, and any techniques that I can learn, sign me up, because I am ready to learn.”
In his essay to the scholarship committee, Johnson reflected on when he realized the baking industry was for him. “My passion was ignited day one of my junior year, the day I set foot into the rest of my life! Baking to me isn’t just baking; it’s a creative feeling that I am able to express through de cuisson (French for baking). Why this? Why baking? Being in the bakery is a feeling that keeps my pilot lit inside. Buttercream, fondant, chocolate, cookies, etc. is what I hear all day long. Those words echo in my mind every second of every day.”
Johnson also has some career goals set for the future. “When I look at my career goals, it becomes crystal clear,” he said. “I know for sure that I will finish all four years of school. When I leave the university, I plan on working in the field, hopefully earning a well-paying baking job so I can get a kick start in life. I plan to save my money so that when the time is right, I can go attain a loan and begin my first bakery. It has always been a huge dream of mine to start a bakery. Now, this dream is so close to being my reality that I can almost taste it.”
In fact, his scholarship essay further reflected his dream to own a bakery. “When I close my eyes and imagine my life 10 years from now, I see my dream bakery: One filled with all the pastries, cookies, cakes, etc. that you can imagine,” he said. “I see myself making the best of the best, the crème de la crème. It feeds my passion to be successful. Happiness is the key to success, and without it, there will be no cake! When I imagine myself in the bakery of my dreams, I become overwhelmed with happiness, because I know that someday my dream will become a reality, and that is something to bake towards.”
In his free time, Johnson enjoys playing video games, and was very involved at his high school, including yearbook, the school newspaper, and Relay for Life. “I enjoy going to my youth group where I can better grow in my faith,” he said. “I love playing volleyball and baseball, even though I don’t play too often. I like to go on walks and enjoy myself, and reflect on whatever is going on in my life. Anything that includes the outdoors is right up my alley, because I love to be out in nature doing things that relax me and make me feel better emotionally and physically.”
Note: This story originally appeared in the September issue of Beyond Baking.