Get to Know HFC: Valencia Purry, culinary artist
When dining at Fifty-One O One, HFC’s student-run restaurant, the first thing customers see upon entering is Valencia Purry’s smiling face.
“I love working in the front of the house at Fifty-One O One. The front of the house has been one of my favorite aspects of the food service industry since I took the dining room procedures class in 2007,” said Purry, a Lab Associate II in HFC’s Culinary Arts + Hospitality Management program.
A lifelong Detroiter, Purry has six academic credentials from HFC. In fact, Purry made history at the College. She was one of four students of the first cohort to earn their bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts/hotel restaurant management from HFC in 2017. Launched in 2016, it is the first bachelor’s degree program offered fully through the College.
Making history at HFC
An alumna of Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Purry and her three sisters (ReShay, Fara, and ReShawn) graduated from HFC. Not only does she have her bachelor’s degree from HFC, she also has two associate degrees and three certifications. Additionally, she has a bachelor’s degree in applied science from Siena Heights University. She took classes at SHU through the HFC University Center, allowing her to complete her SHU degree on the HFC campus.
“I attended HFC because it was close to home, and the price of tuition was great,” said Purry.
It was her fellow students, many of whom are now her coworkers, who inspired Purry to return to HFC as a faculty member.
“They invested in me and they still invest in me,” she said. “HFC is home!”
Purry has been at HFC for a total of 15 years. Of those 15, she spent five years as a student. In addition to her duties at HFC, she is also a front desk agent at The Henry hotel in Dearborn, a position she’s held for 4+ years.
Supporting students doesn’t end after graduation
Eventually, Purry has a goal to oversee the College’s Culinary Arts + Hospitality Management program. She believes in the program's current leadership, and would like a chance to follow as a leader in the successful program. She spoke about what makes it stand out from other culinary programs in the area.
“Our students, our instructors, and our support staff want to see each other succeed,” she said. “We learn from our students too. We do not stop supporting them once they graduate. We continue to support their future endeavors and assist them as they grow.”
Purry truly enjoys working with the culinary students at Fifty-One O One. It’s the best part of her job.
“Working with students is amazing,” she said. “To know that you are helping someone get to the next level in life for them is a wonderful feeling.”