I have the privilege of working at Algonquin College, an organization whose collective vision is … “to transform hopes and dreams into skills and knowledge, leading to lifelong career success”. The story I’m going to share with you brings this vision to life, and gives it a face.
This is Caleb’s story.
Caleb was born in the heart of Africa, precisely in the middle of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. About twelve years ago, Caleb’s father had the fortunate opportunity to come here to Canada in hopes of finding a better life for himself and especially his family. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but despite everything, he chose to leave and travel thousands of miles away to a foreign land. His father was a medical lab technician working in one of the biggest hospitals in the Congo. But he could see that future opportunities were limited, and because he had a vision of a brighter future, he held on to it and left Africa to settle in Ottawa, Canada. Seven years later, Caleb and his family joined him in Ottawa to start their new life.
From the time Caleb could speak, he always had a desire to learn English. So in 2011, he applied for and graduated from English as a Second Language at Algonquin College. That’s when he said he fell in love with Algonquin College. His experience at the college was so positive; as a person in unfamiliar surroundings he found everyone very welcoming and accepting.
Caleb had always been passionate about culinary arts and baking. He would always cook and bake at home, whether for fun or for a special occasion. So one day, he was thinking about what he wanted to do in life. He had so many ideas… he felt overwhelmed and didn’t know what to choose as a program. But one day, as he was talking to his friend, he was given some very sage advice. His friend said, “See what you’re really good at and do everything you can to be the best at it.” It was at that very moment that Caleb logged onto http://www.ontariocolleges.ca and applied for the Baking & Pastry Arts program at Algonquin College.
If you ask Caleb now if that was a good decision, he would tell you it was the best decision he’s ever made in his life. Caleb says the program “gave me more knowledge and all the equipment I needed to be ready for the real world. I will be forever thankful for all the teachers I had because each one of them have been a source of inspiration to me. When I could see they skills every time they did demonstrations, I always say to myself, if I work hard, one day I’ll be as good as them.”
Caleb is currently a full-time baker at the Moulin de Provence located in downtown Ottawa ain the Byward Market. He used to walk by the window of the bakery and stare at the bakers inside, and watch how they were making all those breads. Now Caleb is the baker inside with people staring at him through the window.
According to Caleb, “I know some people might wonder, you get to wake up at 3am to go to work? For me, that’s the beauty of it because by morning, I see how the store is packed with people buying bread for breakfast! Nothing is more satisfying than seeing someone enjoying your bread! For me, nothing. And I just hope, one day, I will be one of the bread bakers that people will always talk about, like Chad Robertson.”