Ozarka Announces Dr. Rhonda Hammond as 2011 Outstanding Alumni

Ozarka College has announced their Outstanding Alumni for 2011. Dr. Rhonda Hammond is a 2002 graduate of Ozarka’s Culinary Arts program, and completed her doctoral work in August of 2010. She is now an assistant professor at Kent State University in Ohio. 

Receiving her associate degree was a spring board to reach her goal of obtaining a bachelor degree, which she did at Nicholls State University-Chef John Folse Culinary Institute in Thibodaux, Louisiana. From there, she says “the ripple effect continued and the next thing I knew, I was being hooded by my major professor in August of 2010.” Her graduate work includes a Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University in Indiana and a Doctor of Philosophy in Hospitality Administration from Texas Tech University. 

Along with vast conference and industry presentations, Dr. Hammond has been published in industry journals and has made book contributions on her research and interests in the subject of restaurant wine marketing, beverage and food pairings, food traditions, and palate and sensory training and evaluation. She has also worked as a consultant and has trained, worked and interned in a variety of restaurants.  

She attributes her success at Ozarka to the support and camaraderie of the students and her Culinary instructor, Rick Tankersley in the Culinary Arts program; as well as algebra instructor (Mr. Rex Whitfield) who made a big difference in her life by helping her overcome her fear of algebra.

When asked about giving advice to those current or potential students, Hammond states, “Getting an education will provide you with opportunities otherwise not afforded to you. Dream big and remember there are no limits! To reach a dream or goal will definitely have its challenges.” She goes on to say, “Do not make decisions based on fear, be it fear of failure or fear of disappointment. The only failure is not trying. If I can do it, anyone can!”

 Prior to beginning her education, Hammond enjoyed teaching SCUBA working in the British Virgin Islands. Currently, she is training for her first 5K and looks forward to taking in many local food, wine and music festivals in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park system in Ohio. She also plans to take her first return trip to the Virgin Islands since beginning school in 2002. Hammond still has ties to the Ozarka service area, her parents, Joan Hammond and Johnny Hammond, reside in Salem. 

Dr. Hammond will be honored in October as Outstanding Alumni for Ozarka College at the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges annual fall conference in Hot Springs.

Rhonda Hammond