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CCTI almuna details journey to owning bakery

Carbon Career & Technical Institute’s Joint Operating Committee heard a sweet story from an alumna at its meeting.

Connie Hoffman, a 2010 CCTI graduate, told committee members of her journey to owning and operating Wild & Free Bakery in Palmerton.

After graduating from CCTI, Hoffman attended the restaurant school at Walnut Hill College, but had to drop out because of financial reasons. She then worked at a Giant food store bakery and was a pastry chef at the Blakeslee Inn, along with working other food-related jobs.

“I also went to Lehigh Carbon Community College for hospitality and resort management, for which they have an amazing program,” Hoffman said.

But after all that, she ended up in the insurance business, but the itch was still there to be involved in the food industry.

“We had our second son,” Hoffman said, “and then COVID hit. I wanted to get back to something I loved, and that’s always been food. I started just doing stuff on the side out of my house, and it really started to pick up. Finally, I just said, ‘Let’s just do this full time!’ And that’s where the Wild & Free Bakery came from.”

Hoffman’s story was just one of the updates committee members heard.

CCTI Principal Michelle Allen spotlighted other alumni for the committee.

Allen gave a PowerPoint presentation on three graduates.

• Libby Smith, 2018 graduate in graphic design, graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in communications design in 2022. Smith works now as a design specialist for Servpro of Lehigh and Carbon counties.

• Gerald Ripkey, 1999 graduate in auto service technology, now owns his own business in Lehighton, Ripkey’s Garage.

• Mathias Bortz, 2016 graduate in auto service technology, is now the store manager at the NAPA Auto Parts Store in Palmerton.

Connie Hoffman, owner of Wild & Free Bakery, addresses Carbon Career & Technical Institute's Joint Operating Committee. JAMES LOGUE JR./SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS