Lindsay Posey stands in the classroom kitchen at Spartanburg Community College in Spartanburg, S.C., where she earned her culinary degree. (Tim Kimzey/(Spartanburg, S.C.) Herald-Journal via)
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Just call Spartanburg Community College graduate Lindsay Posey the iron-willed chef.
After years of putting off college to raise her daughters and move with her husband, Bryan, as he was transferred to new posts with the Army, Posey was forced by necessity to revamp her life in 2012.
Bryan was injured while the young family lived in Utah, and died after several surgeries. Posey, now 28, found herself a widow at age 26, with two toddler-age daughters.
She had been a stay-at-home mom and a housewife and hadn’t worked in four years. No one wanted to hire her because she didn’t have a degree or recent work experience. Her husband’s veteran benefits would take a year to process, and Posey was broke.
Posey had begun nursing school while she was married, but lost class credits after moving for Bryan’s Army assignments. Her education was pushed to the back burner because of moves and the births her daughters, Addyson, now 5, and Jordynn, 4.
After Bryan died, Posey moved back to the Upstate, to be closer to her family in Chesnee. She enrolled at Spartanburg Community College full time and discovered her passion in the culinary arts program.
“I want my own bakery,” Posey says, with a smile. She earned her degree in culinary arts from SCC this semester and plans to attend the University of South Carolina Upstate as a business major.
Posey said she spent a lot of time at home with her daughters during her marriage, and began making her own baby food and breads to fill her time.
“Then I realized that I actually liked it,” she said. “I was better at cooking, but I had a passion for baking. Baking is a lot more technical than I thought. You have to learn the molecular chemistry of it.”
Posey qualified for assistance from SCC, being a single parent with a low income and majoring in a male-dominated field. The college provided child care for her daughters so she could attend classes full time. She found a nurturing environment in the culinary arts program.
“I liked all the faculty,” Posey said. “You become really close, like a family.”
Dawn Larrieu, director of the culinary arts program, jokingly says she looked for a way to fail Posey so she couldn’t graduate. She hopes Posey will return to SCC to teach in the department once she earns a few “war stories” in her field.
“I really don’t want her to leave,” Larrieu said. “She’s been a model student from Day One. She represents so much of our student population. I’m going to miss her, and I’d have her back in a heartbeat.”
As a student, Posey made birthday cakes and decorated them for extra money. She also has enjoyed creating baked treats such as tarts recently, and adding special touches like lavender, hibiscus and roses. She’d like to start a bakery that specializes in healthier breads and baked goods.
Larrieu’s degree is in nutrition, and her knowledge sparked Posey’s interest in medicinal herbs and healthier breads.
“Do you remember when we put the beets in the brownies?” Larrieu asked Posey, referring to a class assignment. For another, students had to make specialty pizzas and Posey created a bacon and pineapple Hawaiian-style pie she called the Pig Kahuna. Larrieu also assigned her students gluten-free challenges, which Posey said she gladly accepted.
“She was like everyone’s mother,” said Posey of Larrieu. “She’s always helping people get jobs.”
Because of her success and will to succeed, Posey found herself the poster child of SCC’s culinary arts program, and her face went up on billboards in Spartanburg County. She’s hopeful for her future now.
“No one wanted to hire me because I hadn’t worked in 4 years,” she said. “Now it’s been 6 years, but I have a degree. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s never too late to go back to school.”
SCC officials asked her to wear veterans’ tassels during graduation earlier this month, in honor of her husband. She added those to her Phi Beta Kappa honor society sash.
On a more personal note, Posey said she’s healing after the death of her husband and has started dating again, although it was very hard at first. She believes Bryan would be proud of her accomplishments.
“I think he would definitely be happy,” Posey said, with a smile.