Oceana Sawyer has always worked to do more to create a memorable experience for her customers. It’s a passion she brought as a student in the Culinary Arts program at Schoolcraft College, as a pastry sous chef, and now as a barista.

“Being a barista, I’d say I’ve been having so much fun learning about coffee and drawing art into the customers’ drinks,” Oceana said. “My favorite way to brew coffee is with a syphon brewer. It creates the smoothest cup of coffee; it takes a bit longer than other methods but it’s worth it. The customers who order the syphon are always pleased and excited to see how it’s done.”

Her current role dovetails nicely with her previous experience as a pastry sous chef, which she did for five years. 

“I’m always trying to find ways to incorporate coffee into what I love, which is chocolates and pastries,” she said. “When I was working with pastries my duties were to make various types of cakes, cookies, pies, truffles and more. I had a blast doing it and would love to do that again someday. I also worked at a few other places as a cake decorator and had tons of fun with that, too.”

The Detroit native originally was interested in pursuing a career in science or medicine after high school before learning more about Schoolcraft College’s renowned Culinary Arts program. Through hard work and dedication, Oceana earned a certificate in Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts in 2017. 


“I decided that I would focus on pastries as I have a passion for desserts and making them look amazing,” she said. “As a worked toward my certificate, I was able to work for Chef Joseph Decker, who is a Certified Master Pastry Chef®, and learn even more and hone my skills.”

Schoolcraft College’s Culinary Arts students put their lessons into practice on a regularly basis, including being important contributors to high-profile events like Culinary Extravaganza. This annual event enhances scholarships and grants for the benefit of students and programs through the Schoolcraft College Foundation (SCF).

“One of my favorite memories is working the special events like the Culinary Extravaganza,” Oceana said. “It was hard work but it always left me happy afterward seeing all of the smiles and the guests telling us how great we did.”

Oceana had a particular passion for chocolate during her days at Schoolcraft College.

“Another great memory is when it was time for the chocolates part of the class because then I was able to make truffles and chocolate decorations,” she said. “Just being able to temper the chocolate and get it perfect made me so happy. I was able to create things like leaves, bands and other types of decorations. Making chocolate-covered almonds felt so rewarding in the end if they turned out right. I just had a lot of fun meeting people and making friends in the process.”

Overall, Oceana’s experience at Schoolcraft College was enjoyable and rewarding.

“I loved the campus. It was close to home so I didn’t have to worry about driving far,” she said. “The culinary department was amazing! The space and the equipment definitely spoiled me – ha-ha.

“I haven’t worked in a place that yet has the space and equipment but that’s not all that matters to me. It’s also the environment. The people I’ve worked with were great. We all got along and worked well with each other. With an environment like that, I could focus and build up my skills and learn from my co-workers as well.”

As Oceana builds upon her new skills as a barista, she has a goal of opening a café featuring desserts and coffee and earning a credential as a Certified Working Pastry Chef®.

“I also want to travel a bit and try some pastries from around the world and build more knowledge and gain experiences,” she said. “I’m really thankful to have had the opportunity to study and work at Schoolcraft College. It will always be a place full of wonderful memories for me, and I cherish those moments.”

To learn more about Schoolcraft College, please go to schoolcraft.edu.

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