Kiera Mitru '21 always watched Siena basketball games growing up, but not necessarily for the basketball. She was looking for Fr. Kevin Mullen '75 in the crowd.
When her friends were watching cartoons, Mitru was watching the "Barefoot Contessa." She was always drawn to cooking shows, and at 10 years old, she was getting rave reviews for her cooking. However, she never considered pursuing a career as a chef. Mitru was concerned that a degree in the culinary arts would limit her professional options. Plus, she didn't want to create meals in expensive restaurants for wealthy patrons when others in the community were starving. She wondered where she could pursue her passion, but still follow her heart. The universe was pointing her towards Siena.
Mitru's great uncle attended Siena and he was close friends with Siena's 10th president, Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M. Fr. Kevin (above, in green) baptized Mitru, and before that, he married her parents. The Siena connection drew Mitru's cousin, Thom Schlinck '19 (above, right), to Siena and then her older brother, Dan Mitru '20 (above, left). Kiera intended to carve her own path, but every time she visited campus (from her Flanders, New Jersey home) she felt like she belonged. She enrolled as an English major with a journalism minor.
The culinary mecca for any foodie is Italy. And though Mitru decided not to pursue a life in the kitchen, she was still searching for a way to blend her interests. It all clicked with Management 290. The course, taught by Fr. Mark Reamer '83, OF.M., vice president for mission, concludes with a 10-day pilgrimage to Italy. The students deepen their understanding of the Franciscan tradition and visit some of Italy's most sacred landmarks. Also, they eat. Mitru was there during truffle season. The handmade pasta with truffle cream is so blissful she wanted to write about. In fact, she decided to write about more than the truffles.
Mitru picked up a minor in Italian, and began investing much of her free time in the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy. There are too many food deserts in Albany, and Mitru wants to leverage Siena's resources to increase food collection and connect the community to better food options. Plus, she's found a career track that perfectly blends her talents and interests. She intends to be a food journalist - writing about truffles in Italy or seafood in New Brunswick. She interned for VUE two summers ago, and she's already been published: New Brunswick’s Salt Seafood and Oyster Bar.
"For as long as I can remember, I have felt most engaged when sharing or listening to stories. Each of us has a story and a narrative to share with those around us. One of the ways that I have felt most connected to my story is through food. Sharing meals in community is a universal tradition. In my current work with cooking and in my future, I hope to continue honoring traditions, but also making space to learn about and celebrate those of others, given the inherent importance in their personal stories."
Kiera Mitru '21