Michelle Kim, Associate in Arts '01, New Owner of Cherry Street Restaurant and Bar

three alumni
Proud alumni, Michelle Kim (center), receives Chamber Advocate of the Year Award.

What is your favorite memory of Sandburg?

     My most vivid memory is when I had to retake Sociology 101, because I failed miserably the first time. Wendel Hunigan was my instructor both times and explicitly stated on the first day of class that reading the material and doing the homework was necessary to be successful in the class. Once again, due to my skepticism of the necessity of a college degree, I chose to do things my own way. I didn't read and didn't study. After failing the class, and waiting a few semesters to swallow my pride and register for the same class with the same instructor, I ended up passing the class with a nearly perfect grade. I actually found that I loved Sociology and ended up minoring in it when I later transferred to Western Illinois University.

What did you go on to do after graduating from Carl Sandburg College?

     After I graduated from Sandburg, I felt as if I really accomplished something and decided to continue my education. I transferred to Western Illinois University and majored in Communication with an emphasis on Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. For the two years it took to complete my Bachelor of Arts, I remained living and working in Galesburg and commuted to Macomb for classes. Shortly after graduation, I took a job with the Workforce Investment Act and worked out of the local Employment and Training Center. Mostly, I assisted individuals who were displaced from the local manufacturing plants with their searches. About six months into that, I felt like I missed school a little and started looking into Masters programs. I ended up in the Master of Organizational Leadership program at St. Ambrose University and graduated two years later. At that time, I had moved on to be the Director of Career Development at Monmouth College and remained there for 5 1/2 years. I have since worked at Knox County Housing Authority for over 5 years and am currently the Resource Development Manager. 
     Over the years, I have stayed very active in the community. Currently, I am President of the CASA of West Central Illinois board, a member of the Habitat for Humanity board and Family Selection Committee, a Lions Club member and board member, Discovery Depot Festival of Trees Committee member, a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and a brand new member of the Carl Sandburg College Foundation Board. I am also the founder of Young Professionals of Galesburg and served on that board for six years. 

 Can you talk about your new ownership of Cherry Street?

     I took over ownership of Cherry Street on January 30 of this year, and it has been an exciting endeavor! My husband, Travis Peterson, also a Sandburg alum, serves as our General Manager and oversees daily operations. I take a backseat when it comes to day-to-day tasks and concentrate more on the behind-the-scenes work such as marketing and advertising, community relations and charity, menu inspiration, and overall image of the establishment. So far, we've tweaked the menu a little, renovated the second floor to accommodate private parties, expanded our staff, and started re-branding. There is a long to-do list of changes and improvements we plan to implement when it's feasible to do so. On the short list, we plan to fully re-brand and update the menu to introduce some fresh, new items. On the long list, we've got physical renovations, including the front facade, flooring, bathrooms. Everything will come over time. Sometimes it's hard to remember to stay patient when envisioning all the potential updates and changes, because it's all so exciting! 

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