Snapshot: Frances Parker
Title: Receptionist Concierge at the Hospitality, Culinary & Tourism Institute at AACC
She’s a dancer, a cook, a caretaker, a student, a mom, a grandmom, a great grandmom, a caterer, and an employee of AACC. Is there anything Frances Parker doesn’t do? “I don’t like to spend a lot of time away from Rian,” Parker says of her three-year-old great grandchild, who has yet to discover how hip and motivated her great grandmother is compared to others her age. Speaking of age, Parker prefers to keep hers under wraps, however her flawless skin and beautiful smile can be misleading when juxtaposed with her statement, “Let’s just say I’m over fifty.”
Frances is currently the receptionist concierge at the Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism Institute in Glen Burnie, shouldering various responsibilities from administrative support to directing guests, planning events, and making people feel at home at the institute. It’s no surprise that she was selected for the position as her warm presence and congenial rapport with her colleagues was revealed immediately upon meeting her.
“I try to make it [HCAT] the place I would want it to be if I were looking for someone or if I had wandered into an office because I was lost or seeking information," she says. "I try to keep a good disposition. Everyday is not always the top of the line, but I try to greet people as if it is.”
France started at HCAT as a student after being laid off at her previous job.
“I just thought it was a great place to come and find a direction. I looked through the catalog and thought the accelerated programs would be where I could upgrade my skills and finish without having to devote a lot of time. I got into the Business Support Specialist program which was an intense 12-week program where you received 18 credits.”
This was merely the beginning for Parker as the completion of her class led her to take more classes like Event Planning, Conference Management, Introduction to Hospitality, and cooking.
“I’ve been cooking for all of my life,” she says, “and I thought I knew how to cook but HCAT teaches you the proper methodology. There’s a proper way to chop vegetables and how to hold a knife. There’s a proper way to do things and I think that was what I learned more than anything else.”
Frances took an educational hiatus for a job and for the eventual birth of her great grandchild Rian, but two years later she returned to HCAT fulfilling a temporary receptionist concierge position that she continues to fill today and has been for a little over two years.
“This is maybe my fourth career and now that I’m a mom again—actually a great grandmom—that’s another career! So now I have two jobs," she laughs.
Frances is the student that keeps on learning with her ambitious spirit at the forefront of everything. She doesn’t hesitate to share her experience with friends and those within the community, no matter what their age is.
“I’ve gotten a couple of students to come here who are culinary or hospitality students and I encourage them to at least explore it,” she says. “We’ve had a lot of people who have walked by and looked in the window and said, ‘Oh, it’s a cooking school, I’ve always wanted to cook.’ What I’ve done with a lot of the older ones is to inform them of our noncredit cooking classes, which, I say, are basically for fun. I tell them to start there and take a class and if you enjoy it to move on from there. Someone who wants to go back to school, I tell them, ‘Hey, everyday you learn something new.’”
So if you’re in the HCAT neighborhood in Glen Burnie, don’t hesitate to drop by and take a tour of the facilities. If you’re lucky, there might even be some food to sample, and of course Frances will take good care of you.
“Here at HCAT we’re still in the process of growing,” she says. “It seems like everyday there are new things that I didn’t know that I find out. To me, I just look at everyday as a new experience.” kr