Carla Hall: From Howard University to Chef, Cookbook Author, TV Personality
Last weekend marked 10 years since I graduated from Howard University. I get nostalgic every time I think about what life was like as a student there. Despite the growing pains, there was something about being in a place where you can unapologetically be yourself, surrounded by people who can share in and relate to your experience. People who genuinely support and push you to grow. A place where I was surrounded by black culture and history every day. And my abilities weren’t questioned because of the color of my skin. Most importantly, I was humbled to know that I was part of a long legacy of black excellence.
The alumni roster is one of the reasons why I applied to Howard. It’s because of that Howard connection that I got my first opportunity in food writing (I realized this years later) when I was assigned to profile Carla Hall for the alumni magazine in 2014. I had no idea that Carla was my fellow Bison, so I was stoked to talk to her. It was a memorable experience talking to her, to hear about her own experience as a Howard student and how she carries that with her long after graduating and breaking into the world of food and television.
Here are some snippets from our interview about her Howard experience:
“At Howard, she majored in accounting, a decision she says she didn’t put much thought into. “I liked my accounting teacher in high school,” she says frankly. “I could have shut my eyes and pointed to a picture … that’s how I chose accounting.”
Still, Hall was adamant about being a stellar student.
“I could not handle not having good grades. I wasn’t one to hang out on the Yard unless I had already done my work,” she says.
But she wasn’t so immersed in her studies that she didn’t recognize the activism on campus. One of her fondest memories was participating in the infamous student sit-ins at the administration building. “My parents were at the 1960 Walgreens sit-in in Nashville, and here I was at a sit-in at the historical Howard University,” Hall recalls.
She also recalls when the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. came to campus while campaigning for president of the United States. “There were so many people who came to Howard that you just felt like you were at the pulse of something great happening.
Carla spoke about how it was challenging going from a local entrepreneur to a television personality. But she credits Howard, along with her family, with giving her the foundation to move through this new world.
“Going to Howard University and coming from a family with very strong, positive role models helped prepare me for this experience and knowing who I am and loving myself and loving my culture.”
Want to read more about Carla? Check out the full profile below: