Four Students Become the First to Earn Bachelor’s Degrees from Henry Ford College

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
From left to right: Brenda McCall, Beverly Etchen and Carl Matsey II stand in graduation gowns and caps holding diplomas

It was a historic first over the weekend at Henry Ford College (HFC) as four students became the first students to earn a bachelor’s degree at the 2017 Commencement Ceremony.

These students – Beverly Etchen, Carl Matsey II, Brenda McCall, and Valencia Purry – graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts/Hotel Restaurant Management at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn on May 6. Launched in 2016, this is the first bachelor’s degree program to be offered through HFC.

“This is awesome. I came back to school after 40 years and now I get to be part of history,” said Etchen.

HFC’s bachelor’s degree program represents an exceptional enhancement to its award-winning Culinary Arts program. It stands out from other degree programs in hospitality management at other four-year educational institutions for a couple of reasons. First, it provides a great deal of hands-on lab classes versus traditional instruction in a classroom setting. Second, students will study and practice cooking and baking; study and practice service; and study and practice supervision and operations management. They must also complete two internships during the four-year program.

After being accepted to HFC, students can enroll in either the associate degree program in Culinary Arts or the associate degree program in Hotel/Restaurant Management as their program of study. After approximately two semesters and completion of the Culinary Skills Certificate (or a transfer equivalent), students can request admission to the Bachelor of Science degree program.

“I just always loved to cook. Everyone kept telling me how good my food was, so that was the deciding factor for me to enroll in this program. The overall experience has been an amazing ride. It’s gone by like a big blur. This is just an amazing accomplishment in and of itself. It’s afforded me the opportunity to make money and move further ahead into an industry that I’ve come to love. I am very proud of my accomplishments, but I am even more proud that I can be a role model and an example for my daughters,” said McCall.

Purry is no stranger to the Culinary Arts program. In addition to earning her bachelor’s degree from HFC, she also earned an associate degree in Hotel-Restaurant Management in 2009 and an associate degree in Culinary Arts in 2015. Additionally, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from Siena Heights University (SHU) in 2013.

“It was a great opportunity. It’s like a second home to me. The whole Hospitality dept. encouraged me to keep going and get my bachelor’s degree. That was it for me,” said Purry.

Further, Purry is a lab associate and adjunct lecturer in the program. She also handles front-of-the-house managerial duties for Fifty-One O One, HFC’s student-run restaurant.

“It is with great pride and greater pleasure to see the College’s first four students graduate with their bachelor’s degrees during my presidency. They’ve earned it and they have worked hard. This is indeed a proud moment for the College and a prime example of how HFC is a FutureDriven educational institution. Hopefully they are the first of many that will graduate with a baccalaureate degree from HFC. Great things ahead!” said HFC President Dr. Stan Jensen.