Through The Experiences of Kylie Mercer: A Culinary Journey

Kylie+posing+next+to+one+of+her+favorite+discoveries+during+a+day+of+mural+hunting+in+Lexington%2C+Kentucky.

Kylie posing next to one of her favorite discoveries during a day of mural hunting in Lexington, Kentucky.

Ellie Reese, Editor

Senior Kylie Mercer has been a resident of Potosi and a student at PHS her entire life, but her passion for culinary is taking her to far away places. In August of 2021, Kylie will be packing up her belongings for a long awaited trip to her new home in Lexington, Kentucky. Here she will be attending Sullivan University to further her culinary skills.

 

Kylie describes the start of her passion by saying, “When I was little, every time I would go to my grandma’s we would bake cookies. I got excited when people enjoyed my food. As I got older my palate got more refined. I started to lean my way into the culinary world and out of the baking world.” I have watched her grow first hand and feel that her experiences will be a help to fellow students whether they are trying to decide if they should go through with Unitec, are picking where to further their academic career, or simply want to relate to the struggles of leaving home for the first time.

 

The Unitec Experience

At the end of each PHS student’s sophomore year, they are given the option to continue with their regular schedule or start early career training through the Unitec program. While Unitec might not be for everyone, Kylie said this, “Unitec really shows that you can work with anyone from any background. We all have similarities, but going to Unitec you have to learn to work with people who you may not like.” Kylie explained that this skill is not only beneficial in the workplace, but positively impacts everyday encounters as well. She continued with, “Unitec has taught me the very basics I need for college and life, like the food aspects, safe temperatures, and how to get a job. My Chef has written multiple letters of recommendation for me, which has earned me scholarships.” Kylie gained one scholarship totaling $2,000 dollars through Unitec. 

 

Kylie said, “Unitec opens you up to different experiences and potential friendships. I have made one of my best friends at Unitec and I would not trade it for the world. I highly recommend going for two years over one. Sadly, my first year of Unitec was ruined, not only because of Covid, but also because of the never ending door of new teachers.” There are always going to be bumps in the road, which is why Kylie suggests the two year program. Although her first year at Unitec was not ideal, she said, “My second year has taught me more and really made my love for culinary expand while preparing me for my next steps.” 

 

Picking The Right College

To some, the college decision making process might come as a challenge, but it wasn’t for Kylie. “Deciding colleges was not a very hard decision for me. I got introduced to Sullivan University at Unitec. Our program and their program go hand in hand so it would be an easy transition and give me more opportunities for scholarships. My dream college was Kendall College in Chicago, but because of the expenses Sullivan was a more realistic choice for me.” 

While Sullivan University was the obvious choice, Kylie said, “Over the summer I found a college on TikTok called Johnson & Wales. I liked the college simply because of how they were treating their students in quarantine so I applied. I had already been accepted into Sullivan and then I got accepted into Johnson & Wales. They were both in very different places. Sullivan was in Kentucky and Johnson & Wales was in Colorado. The expenses were also significantly higher at Johnson & Wales, but upon acceptance they gave me a scholarship for $15,500 and that made my decision even harder. I ended up going with the college I had shown more interest in initially and chose Sullivan University.” Kylie also received a $12,000 scholarship through Sullivan University when she participated in a cooking competition. 

 

Aside from the money aspect, Kylie said she chose Sullivan University for these reasons, “I fell in love with Sullivan when I visited. It was a small college that was more one on one and they had a ton of students that have been successful after college. Lexington is also one of the safest cities in the country. They also have a job placement program that can help any student, current or graduated. I have already made close contacts with people from Sullivan so I will be comfortable there. I am super excited to go and thrive in a new city.” Kylie visited the college her junior year. As someone who was there for this experience, she looked right at home.

 

From Potosi, Missouri to Lexington, Kentucky

A real challenge for Kylie is leaving her friends and family. She said, “I guess the best way to explain it is bittersweet. I don’t have any pull to stay in Potosi. I am going to miss my friends and family. I actually pride myself on the fact I have a great support system within them. I struggle with a lot of anxiety about leaving, but I know with the push from my loved ones I can do it. I know I will be more successful away from this town.” If you have known Kylie as long as I have, you would know how much she has dreamed of leaving Potosi. Some people are just meant for city life and Kylie is one of them. 

 

What excites her about Lexington is this, “The city is very artistic, murals everywhere and it is just truly beautiful. It’s very much a coming of age movie vibe.” 

 

College Life First Hand

During her college visit junior year, Kylie had the opportunity to have a one on one with a chef from Sullivan University. Here she made a meal right alongside him that her family and I enjoyed for our lunch break. Kylie said this about the encounter, “I was very nervous. I messed up a lot and really doubted my skills because I was so anxious. It ended up being perfectly fine though because he understood.” Although nerves were high, she was a natural and the food was pretty amazing too in my opinion. 

 

Once settled in, Kylie says, “I’m really looking forward to learning how to create more recipes on a whim. I want my palate to be super refined and I’m excited to create new dishes.” She continued with, “The freedom too. I’m so excited to be away from my parents and to meet new friends. My complex has two pools and I will be there everyday possible.” Kylie already has an apartment waiting for her that she picked out on her most recent trip to Lexington this past March. Moving across states, going to college, and simply the cost of living are all going to create expenses. To help Kylie says, “I want to do something like doordash or postmates so I can work my own hours.” Along with the hopes of a new job, she said, “I am actually playing roommate Tinder right now. It is literally Tinder but for roommates and it shows your compatibility with other people. I have made one roommate so far.” Roommates won’t be her only company. “Felix is my emotional support animal and she is coming with me to college. She has always calmed my anxiety and will continue to do so.” Felix the cat will also be there for support.

 

When looking to the future, Kylie invisions this, “My end destination is still Chicago. I want my restaurant to be booming and I do not want to worry about finances. I really am hoping that my career will allow me to travel, whether that be around home or farther away. I just want to be successful in a way that others have not. I want to make an impact.”

 

No matter where Kylie ends up, her passion will continue to guide her. I can’t wait to finally see her live authentically in her new environment.