Senior chooses alternative to college university, plans to attend culinary arts school in Paris, France

Meghan Kennedy, Staff Writer

Senior year of high school, students have one thing on their mind: college.
For some, this means attending an out- of-state university.
For others, staying close to home is the obvious choice.
But, rarely does one plan on moving thousands of miles away, to a different con- tinent, with an ocean and several countries separating you from family and friends.
All by his or herself.
Senior Rachel Puccetti will be moving to Europe to attend the culinary arts school Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.
Due to semester differences, she will be leaving in January of 2014.
In the extra months at home, she plans on continuing work, helping her parents pay for the tuition and applying for a few scholarships the school offers.
Rachel said she chose to go to Europe because she wants to experience life outside of what she’s familiar with.
“They have Le Cordon Bleu schools in the states, but I chose to go to Europe because it’s a once- in-a-lifetime oppor- tunity,” she said. “I will learn so much, not only through my
education, but just by being a part of a foreign culture.”
Rachel said she chose this path because of the knowledge the experience provides.
“These schools had always seemed like an amazing opportunity, but I never knew if I’d be willing to take the risk of not going to college,” she said. “I realized that going to a university I’m not passionate about and changing my major multiple times, as many college students do, was not the route for me. These schools, especially since they are in Europe, will give me a world of opportunity in the future.”
Rachel’s mother Jill Puccetti said Rachel will receive a degree from the school that qualifies her as a professional chef. Rachel
can also earn a degree in baking and pas- tries, but she is undecided.
“She decided that if she was going to attend culinary school she wanted to go somewhere like Paris or London,” Jill said. “They are known for their amazing food and would set her apart when she returns to the States.”
Rachel said her main goal is to learn everything she can while gaining knowledge from her experiences.
“I’m excited to travel often and to absorb all that their culture has to offer and also to have those worldwide connections,” she said. “I hope to live an exceptional life, not an ordinary one. I’m confident this experi- ence will set me up for that.”
Jill said this is an amazing opportunity for Rachel, and she hopes she enjoys every minute of it.
“My hope for Rachel is that this experi- ence is everything that she wants it to be and that she can bring everything she has learned home and turn it into something successful,” she said. “My goal for her would be to do something she loves because then
it’s not work.” Senior Bailey Peck has gone to school
with Rachel for part of elementary school and all of middle and high school.
“We’ve been friends for so long, and we’ve experienced a lot together,” she said. “I know I can always have a good time with her and go to her for anything.”
Peck said she and Rachel both share a passion for traveling, which fueled Rachel in her decision.
“She brought up [going to school in Eu- rope] one day and that she didn’t want to go to [University of Kansas] anymore, where she had always planned on going,” Peck said. “She said her
and her mom had been looking into culinary schools in Paris.”
Rachel said her parents have been her biggest support system.
“My parents have always encouraged me to do what I love and be great at it,” she said. “They helped me decide to take this chance. There is so much to see and do out there, and the unique experiences this will provide will help me reach my goals.”
ill said after high school graduation, Rachel will work on her French, in addition to taking a self-defense class.
“I wish she didn’t have to be so far away because I will miss her terribly,” Jill said. “It is an amazing opportunity, and I support her 100 percent and encourage her to enjoy every minute while she is there.”
Rachel said her idea to pursue a career in culinary arts is a recent discovery about herself.
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I like the idea of not taking a traditional college path,” she said. “When I’m finished, it will leave me with a wide spectrum of paths I can choose to take from there. Last semester, I took the [Center for Advanced Profes- sional Studies] iMedia class and spent a lot of time in front of the camera and in photo shoots and interviews with local businesses. Ultimately, I want to have my own business or TV show, and I’d like to use my knowl- edge from CAPS and my experiences next year to do so.”
Rachel will mainly communicate with friends and family back home through
iMessage and Skype. “It’ll definitely be hard the first few
weeks not having any family or friends with me, but it’s fairly similar to going to college out of state,” she said. “I’ll make friends with other students and people in the area. They’ll all be coming from other countries, too, so they’re in the same situation. The time will fly by, and I’ll be back with my family and friends before I know it.”
Peck, who will attend Kansas State Uni- versity in the fall, said even though they’ll be going to college thousands of miles apart, their friendship will stay strong.
“It’ll be hard, but we’re the type of friends that pick up right where we left off,” she said. “I’m excited to hear all her stories.”
Rachel said since her dad is in the Marine Corps, she has spent a lot of time moving around.
“I know what it’s like to start new, to meet new people and adjust to new areas,” she said. “I love traveling and seeing new things as this world has so much to offer — you just have to get out there and experience it.”
Rachel said she will either get her own apartment or live in student housing on campus.
The school helps students find a job for those who want one, so Rachel said she will try to work, if she has time within her course load.
Rachel has to get a passport, visa, find housing, set up a bank account and move everything she needs to live in France.
She said she thinks some aspects of the transition from America to Europe will be difficult to adjust to.
“I think some things will definitely be difficult, like the language barrier, obvi- ously, and just how different their transpor- tation system is,” Rachel said. “The money conversion and how different their daily lifestyle is will be difficult, too.”
Peck said Rachel is really independent and will be fine being alone.
“It’s a huge change,” she said. “It’ll take time to get used to. I think she’ll do fine making friends and keeping in touch, but starting off will be hard. If she’s over there for a semester and doesn’t like it enough to
stay, I think she’d be fine coming home and going to college here.”
Rachel said she plans on staying there for a year and then deciding if she wants to stay longer.
Rachel only gets a few days off every couple of months and no long breaks.
Jill said she or her husband will take Ra- chel to Europe to get settled. The family will travel to Paris for Rachel’s graduation.
“Rachel has an amazing work ethic and is very much a perfectionist, so when she makes her mind up on something, she is great about making a plan and getting it done,” Jill said. “Moving around has also helped Rachel to live outside the box and know that there is a whole big world out there with so much to offer.”
Jill said her biggest fear for Rachel is her safety.
“It will be very hard to have her so far away, but this is what we, as parents, have prepared our kids for,” she said. “She is a strong, young woman that is capable of go- ing after her dreams and not being scared to at least try.”