Spotlight On Humanities Alumni: Maura Rapkin

AP Maura RapkinName: Maura Rapkin

Education: BA (Environmental Studies & Film and Media Studies), University of Rochester, 2011

Current city/state of residence: New York, NY

Job Title: Cook

Employer: Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

As an 18 year old, I was aware that I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. UR’s freedom to experiment with classes and majors was the biggest draw for me, and ended up allowing me to study two subjects which I love (FMS and Environmental Science).

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

Throughout my four years I spent most time involved with building the Undergraduate Film Council.  I found it lovely to connect with other students purely based on our common interest in film.  Spending time trying to unite the rest of the student body through film, whether or not we were successful, was a good way to connect with the campus and bring FMS to the forefront.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

The week or two leading up to graduation, I began to really feel the freedom that was quickly approaching.  I took a step back and looked at all the work I had done to assess my career options relating to my majors.  I did not feel that any of those paths were quite right for me, so I decided to try out an old passion, cooking.  Without really telling anyone, I applied to a bunch of restaurants around Rochester and eventually got accepted as a cook at a small Asian restaurant in Corn Hill.   I also spent some time continuing my film work with Professor Bernardi, helping her archive some of her vast collection of Japanese paraphernalia.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am now a professional cook and aspiring chef, as well as a Freelance food photographer.  Both paths are actually extremely lucrative for me.  I took the pictures for a healthy recipe cookbook (now on sale) and am currently creating a photo archive for an organic farm delivery service website, brochure, and catalogue.  As my steady income I cook at a prominent catering company in the tri-state area.  I have really found cooking to be an excellent creative outlet and my passion grows for it daily.   The photography helps me stay connected to my film roots, but cooking is how I enjoy spending most of my time.

How do you stay connected with the University?

I still keep in touch with most of my friends from my graduating class.  A lot of people moved to NY where I live now, so it’s been pretty easy to maintain my “Rochester connections.”

What advice do you have for current students?

This is the corniest advice, but I would not be where I am right now if I hadn’t listened to and followed my heart.  I am one year out of college, not where I thought I would be at all, and exactly in the right place.  I couldn’t be happier with where all of my decisions have landed me, and all I did was, very simply, follow my own heart.