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AACC Helps Student Fulfill Lifelong Dream

Heather Howe just realized the fulfillment of a lifelong dream – in June, she opened the storefront for her own bakery, “Fields of Heather” near her home in Stevensville.

Howe, 29, loves to bake and always wanted to own her own bakery. When she went looking for a convenient school with a strong culinary program, she found both at Anne Arundel Community College. Today, she credits AACC with helping her meet her goals.

“The professors here help you in so many ways, from answering your questions, to helping you determine the next steps to reach your goals, and they just care about whether or not you reach them,” she said.

This was especially true when she realized she would need education in business if she wanted to operate her own bakery. She enrolled in Business Management courses and when AACC’s Entrepreneurial Studies Institute opened and had its first Business Plan Competition, she was urged to compete. Howe won that first competition, which included prize money as well as to more resources from the area business community.

Howe said so many resources are open to every student. With the small classes, professors can give students one-on-one attention, she said. The flexibility of being able to choose daytime or evening classes also helped Howe, who continued to operate her bakery and catering business from a rented commercial kitchen while she took classes.

After earning associate degrees in Baking and Pastry and Business Management, she transferred to Johnson and Wales in 2004. But even with a bachelor’s degree in Food Service Entrepreneurship, she knew she needed more business know-how to actually start her own business. So, she returned in fall 2007 to AACC to take classes in Entrepreneurial Studies. She received a Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Entrepreneurial Studies Scholarship that helped pay for this extra schooling and even won the Business Plan Competition again. As the winner, she was able to operate the business side of her company from the ESI Hatchery in the Careers Center building for a year.

She used the extra training and the year with access to business resources to work through the processes of applying for a loan, leasing property and getting operational systems in place for her business. Now, she can concentrate on what she loves best, baking.