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Norma Jessop, Student of the Month


Norma Jessop headshotNorma Jessop from Houston,TX
A.A.S. Culinary Arts, Graduation Date: July 2017

We can accomplish all of our aspirations by working hard, never giving up, be kind, humble and always help others. Never be afraid to ask. NO does not hurt, it just means not now or we need to find another way to get a YES.

Born in Texas and raised in Mexico by her grandparents, Norma Jessop has learned the value of things since she was a child. Her giving nature is noticeable as she goes above and beyond hosting some of our exchange students from France.

Norma plating food.Her grandmother taught her to “have a giving heart no matter how little you have, never expect anyone to give you anything but work hard to attain your goals, be clean because poverty does not mean you have to be unclean or lazy and always be helpful.” Norma says, “My grandmother was an undocumented single woman who raised 3 of us (all girls) and found a way to stay home and support us. She did this by cooking… We had no running water or lights. We had an outhouse, a water well and a nearby river. When I found out I was moving to the US at the age of 6 to start school, it was unimaginable. I asked if there were trees and grass; as if I was moving to another planet. When I arrived at my new home in San Antonio, I was mesmerized by the light switch, the toilet, TV and telephone. I could not believe the lights would just turn on by flipping a switch, a toilet flush, people in a little box and a voice on the phone. I must of spent months flipping switches and flushing the toilet over and over… I learned to value everything I have and work hard to make a better life for me and my family.”

Plated Endive appetizerWith that being said, Norma has worked hard to achieve all the success she has accomplished up to this point. As one of our staff members said, “her never-ending energy, inspiring leadership and willingness to always be learning and share it with others deserves to be recognized.” Norma has studied Herbology and Homeopathy as well as home-schooled her three daughters. She has also co-owned a business in water and fire restoration for 20 years and she tells us she was 1 of 5 women in the country at that time to be a Master Technician and Mold Remediator. She’s also held a Pest Control License and currently holding a real estate license. “These certifications and jobs have allowed me to provide for my family, but none have brought me the joy and passion that I get studying to be chef and cooking for my family and clients…With my family’s support I am now able to pursue this path and make many hearts and tummies happy”, says Norma.

After 30 years, she’s back in school and tells us it’s an incredible experience. “I feel happy and love that I am learning the business and science of cooking. I look forward to being in class every day and for the time I am there, nothing else matters. I’ve also learned the importance of Mise en Place, French cooking techniques, sauces and knife skills.”

If you are a student interested in studying at CIL it is better to hear it from a student as to why they love it and any advice they may have. We asked,

“What made you choose CIL?”

“I visited the Art Institute which is near my home. The cuisine classes are not in the same campus and I did not like that. The overall energy during my visit was a corporate feel. When I visited LeNotre I liked that all classes were in the same area and loved the energy I felt. Our admissions counselor made me feel at home and was very encouraging.”


What would you say to the students interested in studying at CIL?

“Take a tour of our school and attend an open house. Sign-up for a Saturday Leisure class so you can feel what it’s like to be in an interactive kitchen learning and if you love the feeling and it’s what you expect, then follow your aspirations and sign up for classes.”

Norma’s giving heart continues to give to others as her plans after graduation include to work with children by establishing a curriculum and teaching at elementary level or volunteering with a non-profit already doing so. “I currently started working as a personal chef and will continue after graduation and expand into catering services. I plan to open my own business in providing personal chef services. This will allow me to employ graduates and offer internship positions for exchange students” . We will continue to follow Norma in her culinary path and see how many life’s she changes with her amazing talents. Stay tuned for the day we create her Alumni portrait and follow up with all her future accomplishments as a Chef!

Sliced fruitChile Relleno