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Margaret Grant selected as Forest Park's commencement speaker
May 19, 2011
Forest Park commencement speaker Margaret Grant, of Chesterfield, Mo., will receive two associate degrees in Baking & Pastry Arts, and Culinary Arts, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average.
Grant is one of four students chosen to represent each campus for St. Louis Community College’s commencement exercises on Saturday, May 21, at Scottrade Center. She will be among the more than 3,500 students receiving degrees this semester.
A daughter’s Christmas gift of tuition for a baking class opened a new career path for Grant, who returned to school in January 2009, after 28 years.
"It's always the right time to learn something new," Grant said. "I am interested in what's next. I celebrate the process, not the result."
Grant has been taking 19-20 hours a semester to complete both her degrees, and also working part-time for a local catering company.
The culinary field was a natural for Grant, who grew up on a grain-and-livestock farm in Charleston, Ill., with five brothers and sisters. Her mother still owns a restaurant.
"My grandmothers were amazing cooks. I still use my grandmother's cinnamon roll recipe," she said.
After high school, Grant attended Murray State University in Kentucky as a psychology major, but she quit school to get married. Her husband was an Army officer, and they lived in Europe for five years. She would travel every chance she could, toting along two young daughters.
After moving to Fort Carson, Colorado, she eventually divorced her husband. She returned to Illinois to care for her ailing father.
One daughter, who knew she loved to cook and bake, not only paid for the tuition but also invited her mother to live with her family. So grandma, on brown-bag lunch detail, would send off her grandkids with goat cheese-stuffed dates.
Grant also thought she would be a role model to her grandkids for studying "before playing video games."
Her daughters are both college educated. Michelle earned a degree in environmental biology and Jacqueline has degrees in philosophy and political science.
Grant is currently active in Phi Theta Kappa, the St. Louis chapter of Chefs de Cuisine and the American Culinary Federation. She was a member of the Hot Foods team, which took first place honors for the second year at the 2010 Student Culinary Challenge at East Central College.
What she likes most about the Forest Park program is "getting to cook every day. It was really a different world - the professional side of baking is very different than home-baking," she said.
She hopes to market her gluten-free bread recipe, and teaches gluten-free baking classes through STLCC’s continuing education program.
In her spare time, when she's not studying, she enjoys playing tennis, swimming, and bike riding with her grandchildren.
Grant would like to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education so that she can teach one day.