In January of 2006, Darla Eide decided to make her dream a reality. Eide was working full-time as a server at Olive Garden Italian restaurant, but opted to return to college after 30 years. Eide wanted to pursue her vision and get her degree in Restaurant Management.
Eide’s hard work inside and out of the classroom and kitchen has earned her a coveted spot on the All-Iowa Academic Team. Phi Theta Kappa, USA TODAY, and the American Association of Community Colleges sponsor the All-USA Academic Team program annually. To be eligible, students must have a minimum of a 3.25 cumulative GPA and be eligible to graduate with an associate degree. Eide was named as one of Kirkwood’s four representatives to be submitted to the national competition.
Eide, who says that she is “proud to be a member of the Kirkwood family,” has led a positive and selfless life as a student during her time at Kirkwood. As a member of Alpha Eta Rho Phi Theta Kappa, she has served as an Iowa Regional Officer and Vice President of the Southeast district. She is also a member of the Culinary Club, helping promote new membership and she even authored the club’s mission statement.
“Darla always has a positive leaning attitude thirsting for more knowledge,” Dave Dettman, Chef Instructor and advisor of Kirkwood’s Fine Diners Inn Club said. “Darla pushed herself to always do the best she could to better her knowledge and culinary skills. [Darla helped] others when in need. Not only did she try to improve her skills but she also helped others improve their skills.”
Darla’s knowledge and leadership is also recognized by her peers.
“[Darla’s] peers repeatedly turn to her for her input in solving problems presented to the student management team. Not only does she get things done through her own, considerable contributions but also often through her skill in achieving things through others,” R. Lee Belfield, Hospitality Instructor, said.
Even off campus, Eide volunteers her time to numerous causes. She donates any free time she has to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Salvation Army and Children’s Cancer programs. Eide participates in all of these activities while maintaining a 3.797 GPA, working 15 hours a week at Olive Garden and being a single parent to her daughter, who is a junior at the University of Iowa.
With all that she does at Kirkwood, Eide says the most gratifying thing she has accomplished is being a tutor. Her student was vision impaired, which challenged her to find new ways to introduce topics other than in visual form. Eide says the tutoring experience had a long-term impact on her. The tutoring position was paid, but Eide donated all of her earnings to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Eide plans to graduate in May of 2008. Her aspirations are to manage her own bed and breakfast.