HFC celebrates graduation of 368 students over weekend
DEARBORN — It was a historic first last weekend at Henry Ford College as four students became the first students to earn a bachelor’s degree at the 2017 commencement ceremony.
The students – Beverly Etchen, Carl Matsey II, Brenda McCall, and Valencia Purry – graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts/Hotel Restaurant Management May 6 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. Launched in 2016, this is the first bachelor’s degree program to be offered through HFC.
“This is awesome. I came back to school after 40 years and now I get to be part of history,” said Etchen, of Hamtramck.
HFC’s bachelor’s degree program represents an enhancement to its award-winning Culinary Arts program. It provides a great deal of hands-on lab classes versus traditional instruction in a classroom setting. Students study and practice cooking and baking; study and practice service; and study and practice supervision and operations management. They must also complete two internships during the four-year program.
After being accepted to HFC, students can enroll in either the associate degree program in Culinary Arts or the associate degree program in Hotel/Restaurant Management as their program of study. After approximately two semesters and completion of the Culinary Skills Certificate (or a transfer equivalent), students can request admission to the Bachelor of Science degree program.
“I just always loved to cook,” said McCall, of Detroit. “Everyone kept telling me how good my food was, so that was the deciding factor for me to enroll in this program.
“The overall experience has been an amazing ride. It’s gone by like a big blur. This is just an amazing accomplishment in and of itself. It’s afforded me the opportunity to make money and move further ahead into an industry that I’ve come to love.
“I am very proud of my accomplishments, but I am even more proud that I can be a role model and an example for my daughters.”
Purry is no stranger to the Culinary Arts program. In addition to earning her bachelor’s degree from HFC, she also earned an associate’s degree in Hotel-Restaurant Management in 2009 and an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts in 2015. Additionally, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from Siena Heights University in 2013.
“It was a great opportunity,” said Purry. “It’s like a second home to me. The whole Hospitality Department encouraged me to keep going and get my bachelor’s degree. That was it for me.”
Purry is a lab associate and adjunct lecturer in the program. She also handles front-of-the-house managerial duties for Fifty-One O One, HFC’s student-run restaurant.
“It is with great pride and greater pleasure to see the college’s first four students graduate with their bachelor’s degrees during my presidency,” HFC President Stan Jensen said. “They’ve earned it and they have worked hard.
“This is indeed a proud moment for the college and a prime example of how HFC is a FutureDriven educational institution. Hopefully they are the first of many that will graduate with a baccalaureate degree from HFC. Great things ahead.”
A total of 368 students graduated from HFC during the commencement ceremonies.
HFC held two ceremonies for the occasion, in the morning and in the afternoon. Hundreds of family members and friends joined their loved ones during the ceremonies, taking photos, sharing laughter and tears of joy.
The college honored Henry Ford III, the great-great grandson of the HFC’s namesake and a member of the HFC National Advisory Council, with the 2017 Distinguished Service Award. HFC also honored Mona Markabani, a firefighter/paramedic with the Ferndale Fire Department, with the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Before joining the family business – Ford Motor Co. – in 2006, Ford taught math and English at the high school level in Virginia, as well as overseas. When he joined Ford, he was initially in Labor Relations where he was a member of the national negotiations team that worked on the collective bargaining agreement between Ford and the UAW. He later joined Ford’s Purchasing division as an analyst on the North America Vehicle Programs team.
Prior to returning to Michigan, he was based in Irvine, Calf., as the Lincoln Sales and Marketing Manager for the West Market Area, helping the Lincoln brand grow its presence in luxury markets.
Currently, he is the marketing manager for Ford Performance, which is the automaker’s performance team whose mission is to fuel innovation and passion for Ford, on and off the road.
In addition to serving on the HFC NAC, Ford – an alumnus of Dartmouth College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – also serves on the boards of University Liggett School, The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village and Bridging Communities, Inc.
Markabani, of Ferndale, has been working in the Emergency Medical Services profession since 2014 and has been a professional firefighter since 2015. She earned her associate’s degree in Applied Science/Paramedic from HFC in 2014.
During her time at HFC, she was the chairwoman of the Paramedic Program’s Hospitality Committee and held the first emergency medical services bake sale, the proceeds of which was donated to the Dearborn Fire Department Burn Drive.
After graduating from HFC, Markabani attended the Schoolcraft College Fire Academy in Livonia, where she was the first Arab American female and the second female guidance officer. This position entailed her taking on a leadership role for the entire class, as well as making sure all of the instructors’ tasks and orders were being followed to completion. She graduated from Schoolcraft in late 2014 with certifications of Firefighter I and II.
In 2015, Markabani became the first Arab American, the second woman and the youngest person to ever join the Lincoln Park Fire Department. Prior to joining the LPFD, Markabani worked as an emergency medical technician and paramedic for HealthLink in Taylor.