A 50 percent cut in pay is one reduction most cooks wouldn’t care to taste, but Notre Dame Chef’s Apprentice Josh Maron says it’s the best thing that has ever happened to him.
Last year, Maron left his job as a cook in the North Dining Hall where he had worked for more than three years to pursue his goal of one day running his own commercial kitchen. Maron enrolled in a Culinary Arts program at Ivy Tech that allows him to take classes and work as a chef’s apprentice at the same time. “I saw this apprenticeship program as an opportunity to advance my skills and reach my full potential,” he says.
Conveniently, Maron’s new apprenticeship isn’t that new. “Notre Dame happens to be the (apprenticeship program) sponsor in this area,” he says. “So I found out about the program and discovered that I could continue my employment with Notre Dame.”
Maron is now learning while he works. “Instead of just being at North Dining Hall, I get to rotate through the whole campus.” Currently working on the grill line at Legends, Maron has already prepared countless meals at the Morris Inn, Greenfields and both dining halls. “Working in all of these different atmospheres is a really unique opportunity.”
But there was a downside to his decision. “Apprentices are typically a little younger, right out of high school and maybe still living at home with their parents,” says Maron, age 33. Taking an entry-level position while he earned his degree meant Maron had to tighten up his apron strings. “I was really worried about the financial aspect of it.”
That’s when Maron learned about the Fred Freeman Scholarship for Notre Dame staff. “It has really been a game changer,” he says. The scholarship awards up to $1,000 in tuition assistance per semester to eligible Notre Dame staff pursuing a college degree or other postsecondary certification. Maron applied, and was thrilled to be selected. “It was just huge to get that financial help.”
Now with three semesters of the three-year program completed (and a perfect 4.0 grade point average to show for it), Maron credits a hearty portion of his success to the apprenticeship that the Notre Dame staff scholarship helped make possible. His skills have already landed him a trip to Germany—courtesy of the American Culinary Federation—to help its Culinary Olympic Team compete in global competitions last fall.
As for his ultimate career goals, Maron is happy to stay closer to home. “I want to be an executive chef somewhere,” he says, “hopefully on campus. I love the Notre Dame community, and I think it’s a great place to work.” He knows it’s a great place to learn, too. “The scholarship shows Notre Dame’s commitment to their employees and their employees’ well-being. I think it’s just a tremendous benefit.”
Applications for this year’s Fred Freeman Staff Scholarship are due June 1. The scholarship opportunity is available to regular, full-time, nonexempt staff who have completed a minimum of three years of service to the University. For more information on eligibility or how to apply, call askHR at 631-5900 or visit hr.nd.edu.