For Solomon Neas, it has been an extended journey to work in his desired area, however after greater than 17 years within the culinary business, he has returned to his alma mater.
Neas, 34, started working at Polk State Faculty as a person assist specialist in Could. Neas was employed shortly after incomes his Affiliate in Science from Polk State in Community Techniques Engineering.
“Generally I’ll have moments the place I stroll by the auditorium and take into consideration the courses I took there,” Neas mentioned. “It’s been an incredible journey and it seems like an incredible alternative.”
Neas’ first expertise at Polk State got here as a highschool pupil when he attended Polk State Lakeland Collegiate Excessive College. With an curiosity within the arts, Neas attended Harrison College for the Arts and Rochelle College of the Arts earlier than attending the Polk State constitution highschool. As a teen Neas performed the cello, however by center college, he had taken an curiosity in visible arts.
Though Institutional Know-how was his ardour, Neas labored in kitchens from 2005 to 2022. By the age of twenty-two, Neas served as sous chef for Jonjie Sibayan – the pinnacle chef for Company Caterers and later proprietor of Filipino meals truck-turned-restaurant Pao Café. Neas nonetheless serves as head chef for Company Caterers and as Sibayan’s sous chef at Pao Café, however solely as a part-time facet job.
“I used to be at all times into IT,” Neas mentioned. “I solely bought into the kitchen as a result of it occurred to be what I used to be doing after I began working.”
Neas’ unique plan was merely to work within the kitchen whereas he attended Polk State. After graduating from Lakeland Collegiate in 2007, Neas continued to attend Polk State, however ended up dropping his Florida Shiny Future Scholarship as results of a paperwork error. Neas took faculty IT programs as a pupil at Lakeland Collegiate and Polk State. Monetary hardships compelled Neas to give up faculty, and he by no means gave critical consideration to returning till after the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“2020 occurred and I misplaced one in every of my jobs,” he recalled. “It was form of a blessing. I regarded into going again to high school and I discovered that FAFSA (Free Utility for Federal Pupil Support) would pay for all the things. All of my IT credit have been already at Polk.”
Upon his return to Polk State, Neas joined the IT Division as a piece examine participant in August 2021. 9 months later, he was employed full-time.
“Everyone seems to be right down to earth and simply right here to assist,” Neas mentioned about Polk State. “Coming from the kitchen, all the things was simply so black and white. Everybody has been so versatile and understanding right here.”
“He’s simply so pleasant,” mentioned Meesha Downing-Townsend, principal at Polk State Lakeland Gateway to Faculty Collegiate Excessive College. “He’s at all times smiling and simply extraordinarily useful. If there’s something he doesn’t know, he goes above and past to be taught and discover out all about it.”
Neas is presently engaged on a Bachelor of Utilized Science in Supervision and Administration with a give attention to Enterprise Data Know-how at Polk State. The work, he mentioned, is rewarding and the advantages are many, together with extra time at house together with his 5-year-old son, Alistair.
“I’ve by no means been capable of work a job earlier than with advantages like healthcare,” Neas remarked. “It seems like I’m lastly an grownup. I really feel like I get to make use of my mind extra. This job has additionally given me a chance to spend extra time with my household and to higher present for them. It’s been superb.”