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Retired Professor Cooks Up a New Career at 62

June 25, 2008

Suzanne ('Zanne, as she's known to her friends) Jeffries-Fox has traversed a very diverse career path throughout her life. After working for years as a college professor and market research professional, the Cape May resident is about to complete a continuing education culinary career training program at the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College-at the age of 62.

A graduate of the prestigious Annenberg School for Communication with a Ph.D., Jeffries-Fox went on to work for the distinguished New York polling firm Yankelovich, Skelly and White. She later served as a professor of communication at the University of Hartford, as well as director of a consortium department of communication for Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest colleges in Allentown, Pa.         

"I loved my job," said the petite, bespectacled former professor, while chatting one morning in the cafeteria at ACCC's Mays Landing Campus. "But I adopted two infants [who are now 26], so I wanted to have more control of my time."

Thus, Jeffries-Fox launched her own qualitative marketing research business, acting as a problem-solving liaison for various companies.

Following her retirement, she and her husband decided that she should go to school to enhance her already extensive cooking skills.

"I've always enjoyed cooking for friends and family," Jeffries-Fox said. "I'm the ‘alpha cook' in the family. I always regretted that I didn't make this a part of my education."

Her fate was sealed when she dined at Careme's, the student-operated restaurant at ACA.

"I talked to [Dining Room Educator] Suzanne Feye, who was running the dining room," Jeffries-Fox recalled. "I told her I thought I was too old to go back to school, but she told me I wasn't too old. The next time I went there, she ran upstairs to the office and came back with registration materials."

She enrolled in the five-month training program through ACCC's continuing education department and receives her certificate of completion on June 11. She was happy to report that she received an excellent education at the ACA.

"I believe in community colleges big time," she said. "They give access to education to people who otherwise couldn't have afforded it. As someone who grew up very poor, I appreciate that. New Jersey's community colleges are wonderful."

While Jeffries-Fox hasn't pinned down her specialty, she does enjoy preparing hot foods and hors d'oeuvres most of all.

"I do well with creativity within a structure," she explained.

As for her future goals, she would very much like to use her new skills to give something back to the world.

"I'm too old to stand on my feet eight hours a day and work my way up the food chain," she said. "I want to use what I've learned to help society."

To that end, Jeffries-Fox would like to help launch a regional chapter of Common Thread-a Chicago-based charitable organization for young people-in order to teach kids about nutrition and how to cook.

As for the age factor, once she received encouragement from Feye, that was no longer an issue. There also was a genetic part of the equation.

"My mother started nursing school at the age of 51, and graduated first in her class," Jeffries-Fox proudly revealed. "It just goes to show that you're never too old to learn."

* The Academy of Culinary Arts awards ceremony will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 11, in Careme's Restaurant in Building M at ACCC's Mays Landing Campus, 5100 Black Horse Pike. For more information about the program, call (609) 343-4829, or visit