Cooking in a foreign country
When thinking about Indiana Tech, it is likely that culinary arts does not come to mind very often, if ever. For CPS alumnus Bruce Laudermilk, though, culinary arts is a way of life.
Bruce Laudermilk found his way to South Korea via the Bahamas after earning his Master of Science in Management. Hustling to complete his work between Indiana Tech at the Pyramids in Indianapolis and the Fort Wayne campus in order to begin a new teaching assignment at the College of the Bahamas, Bruce was able to complete his degree in just five amazing months!
"I certainly don’t recommend trying to earn your degree in that short of timeframe, but the school was gracious enough to meet my special circumstances so that I could start my new teaching job on time," Bruce commented.
Bruce’s story begins as a child of a military father. His family traveled around the country a lot and even spent some time "across the pond." In fact, Bruce began his early education (kindergarten equivalent) in England. The rest of his early schooling was completed in Massachusetts and Virginia. After high school, Bruce served in the U.S. Navy before receiving his culinary arts degree in New York in 1976.
For the next 24 years, Bruce had no further education.
While he was working as a chef in the Department of Corrections, an opportunity arose for a manager of the culinary school in one of the juvenile facilities.
Bruce quickly discovered that to reach a management position, it would be necessary to have a bachelor’s degree. "Education is so important in every industry and field," remarked Bruce. "I would encourage everyone to pursue at least a bachelor’s degree, even if it seems difficult or costly, because it will be well worth the investment in the end."
So, in the year 2000, Bruce finally decided to return to school and seek a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana Tech’s College of Professional Studies at the Pyramids in Indianapolis. Getting back into the rigors of education wasn’t easy, but his studying and learning at Tech were very helpful in his understanding of how to better manage and how to be more skilled at leading people. "There are certain core competencies that one needs to acquire in order to grow to new levels of success, and earning my bachelor’s degree helped me to gain this knowledge," Bruce said.
Realizing the advantage of growing in his knowledge, Bruce enrolled in the Master of Science in Management degree program at Indiana Tech in 2006 which helped propel him to a two-year culinary arts teaching assignment in the Bahamas. When he returned to the states, the economy was on shaky ground. Fortunately, Bruce’s education and experience paved the way for him to receive a new teaching position at the most prestigious culinary arts school in Korea – Woosong Culinary Arts Academy at Woosong University in Daejeon, South Korea. There are more than 14,000 students enrolled in the academy where classes are taught in a variety of languages, including Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and English.
Bruce teaches half of his classes in English and uses a translator in the other half. Currently on Bruce’s teaching agenda are the following classes: Modern American Foods; Italian Cuisine; Basic Culinary Skills; Soups, Stocks, and Sauces; Breakfast Cookery; and Banquet Hot Food Cookery. He writes all of his own materials for each of the classes he teaches. It is challenging, but Bruce really enjoys the process. Bruce credits his education with preparing him to organize his class materials and write curriculum that will be understood and useful to a wide-range of individuals.
Back in the states, Bruce has two married daughters, each of whom has provided him with one grandson. He is excited about his next trip back to America to visit them. However, Bruce is in no hurry to leave South Korea. He quite enjoys the lifestyle and the cost of living in Daejeon. The crime rate is low, the lifestyle is a little more relaxed, and the people are very family-oriented. There is a strong emphasis on education with many elementary and high school-aged children attending school from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. as they attend regular school classes followed by advanced learning and English courses. "The food is very enjoyable, too, but you either have to bring your own utensils or quickly learn how to use chopsticks!" commented Bruce.
With technology ever-changing in all areas of society and industry, Bruce encourages everyone to never stop learning. In his case, it took him almost 25 years to finally realize the importance of continued education. He hopes others will catch on faster than he did. Also, he is a big proponent of networking with as many people as possible. "You never know where life or your job will lead you. I never dreamed that I would be living in Korea, but here I am!" Bruce said.
The world is an ever-shrinking planet as technology and business have helped create a truly global marketplace. So, take Bruce’s advice to keep on learning and make the most of the contacts you make every day. It is a great recipe for success!