Cooking up Inspiration: Jamal Sharrieff is Executive Chef by Day and College Student by Night

Jamal Sharrieff stands smiling in front of a building.
Jamal Sharrieff is Executive Chef for Dine West at the University of West Georgia where he is also working toward a double major in Business and Finance. 

Jamal Sharrieff, 53
University of West Georgia
Double Major, Business and Finance

As Executive Chef for Dine West at the University of West Georgia, Jamal Sharrieff has a front row seat for the journey that is the traditional college experience. From catering new student orientations, graduations, and even alumni events, Jamal has witnessed first-hand the value of a college degree and the hard work and determination it takes to earn one. What the students at these events don't know is that they and Jamal have more in common than they may think, as he himself is a rising Junior at UWG. After coming to the University of West Georgia from New Jersey in 2016, he wasted no time at all transferring roughly 30 credit hours of previous college credit to UWG, and is currently taking a combination of online and evening courses on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree. Read more about Jamal and what inspired him to finish what he started years ago. 

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing? 
I like riding horses, my motorcycle, going to the movies and reading. I am currently the Campus Chef for Dine West and I have been cooking for over 25 years.

How many eCore courses have you taken?
I have taken 4 eCore courses so far. I normally take a combination of eCore, UWG Online, and on-campus classes. 

When is your expected graduation date?
Spring 2021. That will depend on my course load and how things go along the way, but that is the goal!

Why is completing your college degree important to you? 
Because I want to impress upon my children and today’s students the importance of a degree and that you’re never too old to complete your education.

What goals would you like to accomplish after earning your degree?
When I graduate I would like to work in the Finance Department and then Student Advisement in the Richard’s College of Business. Working with my advisor on campus and seeing the way she interacts with and cares about the success of her students— I would like to be able to help students achieve their goals in the same way someday.

Jamal stands beside a palm tree made of pineapples at a catering event on campus at UWG.
Why did you choose to take online classes?
Working full-time as the Campus Chef requires my days. Special events can also require early mornings and late nights. The convenience of online classes helps me achieve my goals while continuing my work, no matter the schedule.

How would you describe the instructors you’ve had in your eCore classes?
Very knowledgeable, understanding and ready to assist students when questions arise. eCore classes are fast-paced, so you can’t get behind. However, the online nature allows you to take notes at your own pace. If I’m watching a video, I can pause it and rewind it if I miss something vs. interrupting an instructor during class. 

How and when do you make time for your schoolwork?
Mostly in the evening, I do both participations online and classroom participation. I also come into work early some days (as early as 3:30/4:00 am) so that I can use that quiet time in the office to study. I just set my alarm and tell myself, “you are going to get up and do this.” There are days when I do get really tired, but I just do it anyway!

Who inspires you and why?
Students! Watching them graduate and seeing the look of accomplishment on their faces after completing their degrees.

What would you say to someone who is considering returning to school online? 
Like Nike— Just Do it!