Like many low-income, first-generation college students, I worked my way through college. For 3 years, I worked at a pizza chain where I learned a lot about life from making pizzas.
Not just how to make the perfect dough, the best temperature for different crusts, or even the best slicing practices, but I learned a lot about life, communication and consideration.
As I assembled pizza after pizza, I found that as I created the pizza from one angle, I thought I had made it just right. The pepperoni was placed perfectly, peppers were not clustered together, and the cheese was not too sparse.
Yet, when I turned the pan around, the cheese looked skimpy, the peppers too clustered, and the pizza was overloaded with pepperoni.
From the original angle, the pizza seemed perfect. However, changing the pizza’s position revealed more work in different areas. I’d take a moment to improve the pizza from the new position.
Each rotation of the pan created both a sense of satisfaction and anticipation of more to be done. I would step back to examine my masterpiece (yes, I know I am no Monet, but give a girl a break) and finally, place the pizza in the oven to bake.
Doing this 25 hours a week for 3 years taught me to view situations, topics and ideas from different perspectives. Sure, I could have made the pizza from one angle and called it good. Yet, I felt it was important to make every slice enjoyable.
As an administrator at Sauk Valley Community College, it would be easy to see a situation from only one side. While I am tempted to go with the first thought, I take a moment to view things from another angle.
For instance, if I were a Sauk student, parent, faculty member or community member, how would I see a situation? How would I interpret the problem, and what would be my potential solution?
On a grander scale, I read about the issues our world is facing and think about them from the other side of the aisle, the country and the world.
I ask how we can approach these issues with a collective understanding of the problems and work together to create the best possible solutions.
What can we do to ensure that the people of today and tomorrow will enjoy the fruits of our labor, rather than carelessly create a mediocre, temporary answer that fits the needs of a few?
With the plethora of problems plaguing our state, nation and world, perhaps we can all learn a lesson from making a pizza.
Note to readers: Lori A. Cortez is dean of Foundation, Grants, and Government Relations at Sauk Valley Community College.