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Staff Spotlight: Hannah Rector


From the hustling and bustling kitchens at Disney in Orlando, FL to Hillsborough Community College (HCC), Hannah Rector has found herself a part of a community that fueled her newfound passion, teaching. Hannah grew up in Miramar, FL and since a young age, had a hand in baking and cake decorating. She started her own business selling cakes and cookies from home, which fueled her passion for baking and lead her to go to college.

Rector first attended Johnson & Wales University and then transferred to the University of South Florida to pursue her master’s degree in hospitality and management, which she aims to complete in 2025. She got her first culinary job at Disney as a chef before moving down to Tampa. In April 2022, she found an opportunity with HCC as the culinary department’s lab assistant. Working at HCC has given her the freedom for her lifestyle and she discovered that she had a passion for teaching and wants to become a professor here in the future.

“Get started working in the industry as soon as you can,” she says. “The sooner you get experience, the faster it is to move into leadership and better expand your horizons.”

She encourages students to try working in different roles to be versatile in the kitchen. Doing so helps them become a well-rounded chef.

HCC has given Hannah a chance to experience rewarding memories. Her favorite memory is a taking a class to tour an ice carver, to try the tools to create their own sculptures. She found it amazing to discover a unique career for students to go into and watch how a block of ice can be shaped into something beautiful. The students were then able to see their work displayed for a dinner event.

Field trips like this are why Hannah encourages students to get involved with the HCC community and reach out to staff for unique events or volunteering opportunities as much as possible. “Community college is a great place to start because of the freedom it allows to figure out your passion,” she says. “Students can get the two-year degree, start working in the industry, then make those decisions moving forward in their career. You don’t have to make those decisions all at once.”

Hannah wishes to thank all the professors she’s worked with for their support as she pursues her master’s and inspired her to teach and help students. More notably from HCC, Chef Fred Jaeger, Shirley Hamilton and Steve Gagnon. Both Hannah and Chef Jaeger are avid Disney fans, and both live by the famous “Ratatouille” quote, ‘Anyone can cook.’

 “And with the right tools and resources, it’s something that can be possible,” says Hannah.

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