10:21 AM

Scholarships: A Sweet Surprise for BU Business Student, Pastry Chef

Ally Peralta

In many ways, Ally Peralta-Amador is ahead of her time and beyond her years. And the 21-year-old is just getting started.

Raised in a single-parent home in Papillion, Nebraska, Peralta-Amador finished high school at just 16 and moved out on her own soon after. 

“I was homeschooled my entire life,” she says, recalling how she often cooked and cared for her siblings while her mom worked overnights to make ends meet. “I would do everything I could to have a hot meal on the table for her when she came home.”

Her crash course in the kitchen eventually evolved into a full-blown passion. Trained at the Institute for the Culinary Arts, Peralta-Amador earned her associate’s degree at 18 and went to work as a pastry chef at Omaha’s V. Mertz.

Loving her new career, she embraced the creativity of fine dining and adapted to working 12- to 16-hour shifts on her feet. Meanwhile, the chef also enrolled at Bellevue University, hungry to continue her education.

Peralta-Amador is part of BU’s accelerated Bachelor of Science in Business Leadership and Management program. Recommended by one of her culinary instructors, the program proved a perfect match for Peralta-Amador.

Thanks to her homeschool years, “I thrive in online environments,” she says. Plus, Bellevue University accepted her entire associate’s degree, allowing her to apply ample credit hours toward her bachelor’s. 

“I love how the program is so specific,” Peralta-Amador says, which allows her to specialize and dive deep into organizational leadership and workplace cultures. She’s on track to complete her degree in just 18 months. 

The icing on the cake? The straight-A student has received several scholarships from the university, significantly alleviating some of her stress.

“I can’t even tell you how much it’s helped me out,” she says, initially surprised she was selected.

“When I got my first scholarship, I just started crying,” she says. “I was like how is it possible that I’m good enough for this?”

After her initial shock, gratefulness flooded in. “I felt like I could take a breather at work. I could focus on my studies more. It took so much weight off my shoulders, having that help.”

A fresh sense of confidence also washed over Peralta-Amador. Offering more than financial help, her scholarships signaled that someone else believed in her potential and intelligence.

Peralta-Amador’s brighter mindset paid off during spring 2020 as she witnessed her restaurant and the entire community grapple with the effects of a global pandemic.

The unexpected pause, although disorienting, eventually proved fruitful for Peralta-Amador. With time to rest and reset, she began polishing her resume and exploring new opportunities to apply her hospitality skills outside the kitchen.

Now, she’s serving teachers and students in an administrative role at a local elementary school. After exiting a high-energy kitchen, Peralta-Amador is adjusting to a more mild environment … and loving every minute.

The high-achiever knows she’s in the right role for right now and appreciates how her job duties complement her studies. “It’s a great fit for my degree,” she says. 

Someday, Peralta-Amador envisions herself in leadership or project management where she can help cultivate a happy, healthy corporate culture. 

A born leader, she’s already amassed hands-on experience, including serving on Culinary Team Nebraska and organizing a successful fundraiser for the Bethlehem House three years and counting.

And even though she no longer works in a professional kitchen, Peralta-Amador continues to find time to feed her inner foodie. 

“You’ll often find me gardening,” she says. “I cook every day. I bake all the time. I’ll make your belly full.”

And as Peralta-Amador looks toward next year, she looks forward to graduating debt-free in record time -- right before her wedding.

“I can’t thank the donors enough,” she says. 

 Learn more about the Bellevue University Scholarship Program.