Coeta Dooly had wanted to attend culinary arts school since 1990 when she opened her firstbusiness, Coeta’s Country Kitchen. This dream seemed impossible as she was married, had two daughters, and was working at Whirlpool while running her own business. After about 10 years, Coeta closed her business and opened a small catering service, called Manna, a few years later. Coeta had planned to run her catering business and to continue working at Whirlpool until retirement age. Her plans changed when the factory closed. Once again, culinary arts school was in Coeta’s mind, but at age 55, she thought her age would keep her from being accepted into a program.
Coeta then enrolled in adult education classes with many of her Whirlpool co-workers to refresh her academic skills. She surprised herself when she saw her test scores. This made her realize she
had the skills to enter college. Coeta looked at several schools and decided on the culinary arts program at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. This was a huge decision as her home was in Lavaca, Arkansas, as was her husband of 37 years. He supported her decision to follow her dream, so she lived in Okmulgee during the week and went home on weekends.
During the two years Coeta was enrolled at OSUIT, she excelled and earned a 4.0 grade point average every semester. She stated that she learned more than she had ever thought was possible, had wonderful instructors, and made life-long friends who are now chefs as well.
Coeta completed her internship at the restaurant in Mount Magazine State Park in Arkansas on December 12, 2014. They were impressed with her abilities and hired her immediately. She has been working as a chef there since December 23, 2014, with excellent pay and benefits. Coeta has already been allowed to produce a new menu and to make several positive changes in the kitchen.
Coeta credits her adult education instructors for encouraging her to follow her dream by attending OSUIT and earning her degree. She truly is a success and has proven that you can start over at any age. Congratulations, Coeta!