Outstanding Students

Diana Giles

Where are you from?

I grew up in Mason City, Iowa, and then graduated from University of Iowa with a degree in Anthropology and Biology in 2009. My family and I then moved to Denver, Colorado where we spent 10 years. In 2019, we moved back to the Iowa City area. I have a husband, Gregory, a daughter, Caroline (5) and Jack the dog and Kica the cat. My mother, sister and all of my in-laws live in the area and I feel blessed to be back in the Midwest with all of my family.

Why did you choose Kirkwood?

I have over 20 years of experience in the food service industry. My father and mother were Food Science Engineers and my father owned his own restaurant. I have worked in family own restaurants, corporate restaurants and fine dining. In 2013, I began a career working for a wine and spirits distributor where I worked for 7 years. During COVID, my job went through a number of changes and I saw an opportunity to pursue a passion of mine, which is Culinary Arts. I also left my job in sales to work for a highly regarded restaurant in Iowa City, The Webster, where I began to hone my skills and practice my knowledge from culinary school. Working at The Webster has been a big inspiration to me because I have been able to work alongside many highly talented and successful individuals, and see what it really takes to be able to own and operate a restaurant. Without culinary school, I do not believe I would have been able to get this experience, and it has become extremely valuable for my success in the future.

What are your plans after Kirkwood?

After I graduate, I want to open my own restaurant in the growing community of Tiffin, Iowa. My concept is breakfast and lunch, fast casual. I want an emphasis on local products, catering and awareness of dietary restrictions.  Attending Culinary school at Kirkwood gave me the knowledge, confidence and skills that I knew I would need to successfully open and operate my own business.

What has been your proudest moment at Kirkwood?

My proudest moment has been achieving Outstanding Student, as well as the mentorship and feedback from all of my instructors. I am also extremely proud to be able to show my daughter what hard work, dedication and pursuing a passion looks like, at any stage in life. While it has been difficult at times to balance life, school and work, I am proud that I have endured. I hope to be an inspiration to others who wish to set dreams and goals bigger than themselves, in an industry that is challenging yet extremely rewarding.

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