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Co-op Takes the Cake

July 14, 2014

christine luby smilingWhat do gingerbread houses and too much baking soda have to do with an award-winning co-op performance? The tale of Christine Luby’s journey to receiving Drexel’s Co-op Award is a surprising one.

After transferring into Drexel's Nutrition Science Program from Bucks County Community College in 2011, Christine Luby packed her first year at Drexel full of science courses to get herself caught up. Luby said, “I really appreciated the anatomy courses and the opportunity to experience and learn in the cadaver labs.”

During her first summer quarter at Drexel, Luby also decided to take a food science lab with Rosemary Trout, an instructor in the Culinary Arts and Food Science Program. In one particular class, the students were asked to make cakes and purposefully make mistakes with the ingredients to see what differences the mistakes would cause in the final product. Since the class had quite a few cakes left over and because Luby had been a cake decorator before she came to Drexel, she offered to show the class how to decorate the cakes. Everyone was surprised by her ability, and Professor Trout even showed Luby’s cake to Tim Flohr, the Food and Beverage Operations Manager for what is now called the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel.

Flohr hired Luby as a student employee for the Center, and together they began developing a student-operated specialty cake order business that Luby named "Dragon Cakes." This unique opportunity prompted Luby’s subsequent co-op employment at the Center during the spring and summer quarters of 2013. Luby used her baking and decorating talents and combined them with her studies in nutrition and foodservice management to create a small business right on Drexel's main campus. Faculty, staff, students, and parents are able to order cakes via an online order form for pickup or delivery anywhere on campus. Luby even helped establish a contract with The University of Pennsylvania so that the entire surrounding University City community could order cakes.

dragon cakesSince its establishment, Dragon Cakes has been presented with a number of unique opportunities. Dragon Cakes created a cake in the shape of the Comcast building for LIFT to present to David Cohen, the Vice President of Comcast. The group was also invited to participate in Fairmount Park’s Annual Gingerbread Mansion Display, for which they created the largest gingerbread mansion the program had ever seen. Dragon Cakes even made President John Fry's birthday cake!

Along with her responsibilities as the leader of Dragon Cakes, Luby also spent her co-op experience managing the sixth floor of the Paul Peck Problem Solving and Research Building. This is where the culinary arts labs take place and is also the location of the Academic Bistro. Luby spent a lot of time on this floor prepping each lab by making sure that every ingredient ordered was received, cleaning and organizing the kitchen, and being the point person for any issues that arose. The department also held many events, for which Luby prepared and catered. She explained, “I enjoyed my responsibilities as Assistant Hospitality Manager, and I was delighted when I was able to continue working as such even after my co-op experience ended.”

Between co-op and graduation, Luby continued working as both Assistant Hospitality Manager and leader of Dragon Cakes. She managed to juggle her work and studies with volunteering and her social life.

In May, Luby received the Cooperative Education Award for the College of Nursing and Health Professions, which made her co-op experience all the more special. Luby graduated on June 13 with a 3.75 GPA, an invitation into Drexel's Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (Dietetic Internship), and with fond memories these one-of-a-kind experiences.