A smiling person with a staircase in the background.

Jessica Carrera Valle understands the challenges of being a mature student.  

There was about a 10-year gap between completing high school and enrolling in Humber’s Culinary Management program, from which she graduated in 2022.

Carrera Valle said, initially, she felt somewhat intimidated trying to fit in with her peers in the program as some were much younger than her.

However, over time and with the support of resources at Humber, the current Hospitality – Hotel and Restaurant Operations Management student felt more comfortable. Now, she hopes they look at her as a friend and even a mentor in some cases.

One of the ways she eased her transition to post-secondary was joining IGNITE’s Mature Student Success Club, eventually becoming its president. It was a way to get involved in campus life while also connecting with other mature students in a safe space to seek support, friendship and learn about the resources available to them.

“It’s great to have a community where you can go and talk about the different things you’re experiencing with people who understand where you’re coming from,” said Carrera Valle, who’s currently an IGNITE student advocate.

Carrera Valle decided to attend post-secondary after working for several years in the hospitality industry. She wanted to advance her career which, as a young mother, would ensure her child had access to opportunities she didn’t have growing up.

She had heard great things from friends about Humber and decided to enrol. She loved the Culinary Management program and learned a tremendous amount while making important connections in the Humber community.  

She became pregnant with her second child while in the program and was supported and accommodated by Humber and her instructors, and she was  able to continue her education without a pause. She was so dedicated to finishing that Carrera Valle was back in class a week after giving birth by cesarean section.  

“I wanted to show people to not let anything stop you from achieving your goals and your dreams. And, as a mature student, I felt it was important to keep going because once you step away, it could take years to come back,” she said.

She would eventually become chair of the IGNITE Board of Directors, which was a wonderful opportunity for her to make more connections and to be an advocate for students. Carrera Valle got involved with many different organizations and departments including Humber Global, Student Life, First Year Experience and others.

“People say that my superpower is the power of connection, and that people are drawn to me,” she said. “It’s why I like getting so involved.”

Carrera Valle hopes to work at a hotel upon graduation to gain some additional work experience with plans on opening up a restaurant that employs people in need of an opportunity such as newcomers, those who were incarcerated or escaping domestic violence. She wants to give them the skills needed to thrive in the workforce and become successful and happy.