Passion for the People

Excelsior’s partnership with Pizza Hut puts Pandora Schaal on a path to achieving her short- and long-term goals

Pandora Schaal has always enjoyed working with people. In fact, it’s her dream to be a teacher. The Spokane, Washington, resident was working for Pizza Hut when she discovered the franchise’s educational partnership with Excelsior. It was then that she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree to move toward her goal of teaching.


Schaal is not one to miss opportunities. She started as a cook for the Pizza Hut in Edgewood, Washington, but not even a month later, she transitioned to a chef manager. For the next three years, she trained to be an assistant. During this time, her manager told her about the Yum Brands! partnership with Excelsior, and she enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts program in 2019. “I really want to go back to school and just finish. And so, my boss at Pizza Hut supported me through every step of the way,” says Schaal.


When she began her studies, coincidentally, the area coach that Schaal worked with was taking master’s courses at Excelsior. Schaal recalls that it was nice to have someone in the same boat as her: “So if I was stressed out, or he was stressed out, we would talk about what classes we were taking. So, I had that one person who was supporting me.”


Unfortunately, in 2020, Schaal was injured. After taking some time away from her job, she decided to transfer to the Domino’s pizza restaurant chain. She is currently a chef and delivery driver for a store in Spokane and is training to be an assistant manager. She kept with her Excelsior studies, however, and earned her degree in February 2021.


With a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, Schaal thinks her opportunities are wide open. “I want to work with people. So, I got a liberal arts degree; you can do basically anything with it,” she says, explaining that she had previously started out as a teaching major when she took a few courses at Eastern Washington University. Schaal is from a large family and remembers times growing up when she used to help her younger cousins with their homework. She says she’s always been someone to help others with their schoolwork and has enjoyed it. Pandora also tutors her husband’s cousin, who is in high school, on history. Schaal believes the liberal arts degree she earned with the help of Pizza Hut’s partnership with Excelsior will allow her to have a better chance of applying and being accepted to a master’s program in teaching.


In the short term, though, her bachelor’s degree supports her career growth at Domino’s. She hopes to move into that assistant manager position in just a few short months.


Schaal encourages her former Pizza Hut employees to look into the partnership with Excelsior. She says everyone at corporate headquarters down to her coworkers were supporters of her going back to school. “They did really well, taking care of us and supporting us and making sure we had everything we needed,” she said in reference to their encouragement.


Being the first sibling in her family to earn a bachelor’s is a motivator for Schaal to pursue a master’s in teaching. She’s hoping to someday work for a school district, but for now, she’s thankful for her time with Pizza Hut and the opportunity it has given her to fulfill her dream of pursuing her higher education. “I like that it was around my own time,” she says of attending Excelsior’s online program. “I didn’t feel like I had to rush through my assignments like I did when I used to be in class for six hours a day, so it was really nice that it was flexible, and you can do it in your own time.”