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Two Selected for School of Hospitality Award

Michelle D. MierwaldTwo students in the School of Hospitality at Pennsylvania College of Technology were selected by faculty to receive the school’s “Award of Excellence,” which included an educational trip to New York City, where they toured some of the city’s fine restaurants and hotels.

The May graduates, Michelle D. Mierwald, who earned an associate degree in culinary arts technology, and Tiana J. Soles-Ahner, who earned an associate degree in baking and pastry arts, were selected based on their academic records and their service to the School of Hospitality.

Mierwald, of State College, is a mother of three and has commuted for the past three years to Penn College to pursue her lifelong dream of receiving a degree in culinary arts.

She is a recipient of the Visiting Chef Scholarship and volunteered more than 75 hours contributing her skills outside of class.

“This was my favorite part of school,” she said. “I rediscovered how much I enjoy giving back and loved working the different events and getting experience at the same time.”

Among those activities, she volunteered at the 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show, where she assisted chefs from around Pennsylvania with on-stage demonstrations, and helped to prepare a picnic lunch for teams playing in the Challenger Game at the Little League World Series.

In competition, she placed second with partner Nicole M. Bilinski in the 2010 Food Show for her advanced garde manger entry. In an annual pre-Spring Beak nonalcoholic drink mix-off, she placed first in 2010 with partner Darnell Bungy and placed third this year with partner Antonio J. Rodriguez.

“It’s been an amazing experience, but I’d never be able to do any of it without the support of my husband,” she said. “I try to be a good role model for my daughters (a 20-year-old and 11-year-old twins) “¦ and am hoping that they know it’s never too late to pursue any dream you may have.”

Mierwald hopes to work in the industry for a few years and then return to the classroom as a teacher.

“Once again, the faculty at the college have inspired me by not only being distinguished in the culinary field themselves, but by giving back by sharing their talent with us students,” Mierwald said.

Tiana J. Soles-AhnerSoles-Ahner, also of State College, loves the creativity of the baking and pastry arts field. She received Best of Show in the college’s 2010 Food Show for her chocolate house, which was auctioned with the entries from fellow classmates to raise money for Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity. She also received third place in Classical and Specialty Dessert Presentation.

She was among Penn College students hired by Levy Restaurants to help prepare food for thousands at Churchill Downs during the 2010 Kentucky Derby, volunteered in the Penn College display booth at the 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show, and completed an internship with Gemelli Bakers in State College, where she returned to work following graduation.

At home, she experiments with diabetic-friendly desserts, inspired by close family members who have diabetes.

“Someday I hope to own my own bakery café, a place where I can show my creativity,” Soles-Ahner said.

“I know I speak for both of us when I say that it is an honor to be selected for this award,” Soles-Ahner said. “I am honored to be able to visit the city and see all it has to offer.”

To learn more about the academic programs offered by the School of Hospitality at Penn College, call 570-327-4505 or visit online .

For more about Penn College, visit on the Web , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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