December 13, 2013

Spotlight on Financial Aid: Jose Celis


Jose Celis, Director of Financial Aid

Jose Celis knows that attending culinary school is a big decision, one that is not made lightly. As Director of Financial Aid, with over ten years experience in the field, Celis is adept at helping students navigate their way through financing their education, helping to make their culinary dreams a reality. He likens his job to one in the kitchen saying that it is hard, but rewarding work. Celis encourages students to be proactive and to never settle.

Escoffier: What brought you to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts?
Celis: It is a unique school. It was an up and coming school, and that appealed to me. I had never worked in a culinary school before, but it is very interesting with a very focused subject matter – a specialized education. All of that really drew me to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

Escoffier: As the Director of Financial Aid, what type of interactions do you have with students?
Celis: [Mostly interactions] about calming fears; answering the big mysterious question of, “How am I going to pay for this?” For a lot of students coming in, paying for school is their biggest hurdle. Financial aid can be a complicated and burdensome process to go through. [Figuring it out] can be emotional, but then it dawns on them that they are doing it, that they can do it.

Escoffier: Do you have a favorite story of a student making it work?
Celis: There is one that sticks out. There was a student that came in four days before school started, convinced that there was no way she would be [financially] ready [to start school]. After talking we got everything fixed and she went to classes. She was an exemplary student and will be graduating soon. The reason I like that story is that we don’t count anyone out; we can overcome pretty difficult issues. It makes me want to keep pushing and say, “Let’s not give up!”

Escoffier: Can you share any tips with students on financing their education?
Celis: A lot of times people assume the worst – or the best – about financial aid. For the worst case, you go through the process and you don’t get anything; you’ve wasted a couple of hours. If you do get some financial assistance – and almost everyone gets something – let’s say you spent two hours and get a $5,000 grant. Think about it as an hourly wage; that’s $2,500 an hour! Also, the ball is in your court. The successful students are the ones who take it upon themselves. You’re taking your future into your hands; we are glad to help out and point you in the right direction.

Escoffier: What is the best part about your job?
Celis: Hearing back from students, once they are out in the real world and have graduated, who have gotten great externships or job opportunities. We are a small enough school that you can remember each student when [at the beginning] they didn’t think [culinary school] was even going to be an option and then looking at how far they’ve come.