Kara is a Caregiver & Mentor to Sullivan Students

The island theme for my dead dough show piece was my Valentine gift to myself! I spent a lot of years in Florida and my very spirit is still there! I love everything about a tropical life style.

Kara is at Sullivan to pursue her passion for the baking and pastry arts and hopes to open her own bakery. But before enrolling she worked as a civilian contractor for the military, She fed her passion for baking by doing cakes on the side but she had to have a "normal job" to pay the bills. ”My title was "Family Assistance Specialist" and I worked in Madison Indiana in an armory for the Army National Guard,” Kara recalls. “Basically I took care of families of deployed soldiers. I made sure that they had a smooth transition from a guard family to an active duty family with a loved one overseas. I had 500 families under my wing. I was there to answer any questions about benefits, to assist in emergencies, point them in the direction of federal/state help, and was the middle person between the family and the military. It was gratifying but took up a lot of my time. I was on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But that was ok. “ It was okay because Kara is a natural born nurturer.

She’s a caretaker

Kara has been "taking care of lost souls since my sons were in high school. I had several high school students live with me off and on when they were turned out by their parents. These were not bad kids, they just had trouble at home. So rather than seeing these kids sleep in their cars, I would bring them in, feed them, clothe them, and basically be a mother to them. I am proud to say that all these kids have graduated from high school and are onto great things! "

She is also been taking care of and mentoring Sullivan students. "They come here and most have never been away from home before. They get homesick really fast and I try to comfort them and encourage them to stay in school and let them know that I care for them, listen to their problems and give advise just like a mother should. I care about these kids, they all have so much potential!"

Kara does more than just encourage; one of her fellow classmates now lives with her. "She was packing to go home when I brought her to my home and my family. She is a brilliant baker with a lot of talent and I could not just stand by and let her give up her dreams because she was so very home sick. When she came to Sullivan, she was only 17 and had never been away from her momma. She was a baby! Now, I watch her in amazement as she is flourishing, growing, and really start to come into her own. She has become a member of my family!

All these kids mean a lot to me. I try to share my story of how I have had to struggle to make my tuition, working 2 jobs plus go to school full time (Dean's List every quarter), and take care of my husband and kids at home. I hope they can appreciate who ever is paying for their tuition here and that they make the very most of every experience afforded them here at Sullivan.

What’s next for Kara?

Although her dessert won acclaim at the Barry Callaubaut Chocolate Challenge, she is certainly not resting on her laurels. Currently she is the Culinary Grip on Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live and is also writing recipes for the Jefferson County Public School System's Breakfast Challenge. “I am getting my ideas for the recipes from my kids and what they like to eat. It is a lot of fun and I am having a huge blast doing it!”

Woody Allen said "Seventy percent of success in life is showing up." And if that’s true, student Kara Schanus is already 100% successful.

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