A Sweet Success Story

Alumna Rachel Barber finds her culinary roots in ROP classes


Jessie Chau

Rachel Barber, a sophomore at Orange Coast College, tells us about her passion and future of becoming a cook, that was sparked from R.O.P courses in high school.

For some students, school years are spent dreaming of “the real world” after high school, when they can finally choose a career path and pursue an occupation. For alumna Rachel Barber, high school was anything but an extended period of wishful thinking — it was a transformative experience through which she not only grew in knowledge, but was able to explore her passions and solidify a line of work to pursue, largely due to her participation in several Coastline Regional Occupation Program (ROP) courses.

Rachel was able to explore her passion for cooking through ROP, an educational program free for high school students, that provides students with hands-on experience in fields of their interest.

“What I really love about ROP is that students have hands on opportunities to explore careers and do internships, and in some cases, it really inspires them to pursue a career,” career specialist Annmarie Winter said.

When Rachel Barber discovered that ROP offered a Baking and Pastry Fundamentals course, she seized the opportunity and registered for the class. She eventually completed the Culinary Arts course as well.

“[The ROP class] was really fun, and I got to know all of the students there. The class moved fast, but it was really fun to work with the other students. It was a very welcoming atmosphere,” Rachel Barber said.

Rachel Barber went on to receive a “Distinguished Student Recognition” award through ROP.

“Rachel was really dedicated and I think she really just soaked up all of the knowledge. She really enjoyed the experience and would look forward to making these creations and repeating that at home. [The ROP courses] sparked a passion and solidified and validated that passion. It strengthened her self-efficacy,” Winter said.

Today, Rachel Barber is a sophomore at Orange Coast College (OCC) and is completing their Culinary Arts program.

“She really got the sense of what it would be like to be in a culinary school and be in that environment. [ROP] really made her excited about pursuing [a career in culinary arts]. It really gave her the confidence to go into the classes at OCC with more knowledge,” special education instructional assistant and mother of Rachel, Jane Barber said.

“I highly recommend that students try at least one [ROP] class. Students have to start off somewhere, so why not at high school in an ROP class? It is definitely worth it … [and] I would definitely do it again,” Rachel Barber said.