Canyon Pizza was made-to-order role for alumna
This story is reprinted from the November 2019 issue of GCU Magazine. For a digital copy of the magazine, click here.
Story by Ashlee Larrison
Photos by David Kadlubowski
Melanie Schissel didn’t want her Grand Canyon University experience to end when she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2017, so she stayed on as an employee and began working toward a master’s in Business Administration.
Now it’s an even bigger slice of her life.
When Canyon Pizza Co. made its debut in August, it did so under the supervision of Schissel, whom GCU President Brian Mueller personally selected.
“GCU is known for having very bright, upbeat, high-character graduates who are in huge demand throughout Arizona and the Southwest,” Mueller said. “Melanie is another example of one of those students. She has very good leadership capabilities, and with her experience and interest in the hospitality and food industry it was only natural to give her an opportunity to run a business.
“As we create new GCU enterprises, we look for opportunities to get our graduates involved at a management level.”
Schissel worked at Chick-fil-A while in high school and during her early years at GCU, and she loved the company so much she dreamed of owning a franchise. But the Canyon Pizza Co. opportunity changed that dream in a hurry.
“GCU is a place that I love, and to be able to operate a franchise within GCU is the same thing,” said Schissel, who worked in Marketing and for Canyon Promotions after earning her bachelor’s in Sports Management.
Schissel and her staff wasted no time trying to turn the heads of students with their customer service, and students noticed right away.
“People are really seeming to like that we are in a transition of growing,” Schissel said. “We have a couple of regulars that come almost every day.”
One of those regulars is junior Rebecca Anklam, who came in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised by how much she and her peers liked it.
“Everybody’s loving it,” Anklam said. “It has become one of my favorite places on campus now.”
Anklam said the addition of Canyon Pizza Co. to the first floor of the Student Union added another fun environment to her usual spot at Grand Canyon Beverage Company the next floor up. Now she has a choice of a place to do homework and interact with enthusiastic students working there – a preference she credits to Schissel and her dedicated staff.
“I can tell she (Schissel) has a lot of passion for what she does and that she’s very dedicated and very driven to serving the student body and serving them well,” Anklam said. “She cares a lot about everything, every student’s feedback, every student’s opinion.
“She really wants to make sure she’s putting out a quality product and that all of her student workers are emulating that good student worker relationship and really good customer service. I don’t think Canyon Pizza Co. would be as successful if Melanie wasn’t in charge of it.”
The Phoenix native may have accomplished finding a working formula for campus pizza and a way into students’ hearts (and stomachs) in Canyon Pizza’s first three months, but she has no plans of slowing down. Schissel has some ambitious ideas for the future of pizza on campus, starting with the spring semester launch of delivery.
“I think that this is just going to be like everything at GCU – it’s just going to constantly grow,” Schissel said. “I think a huge asset is going to be when we’re able to start delivering because that’s going to be a unique asset. I think once that takes off, it’s going to take us to a whole new world of possibilities that we don’t even know yet.”
Since she was an undergraduate student, Schissel recalls having an overwhelming feeling that she was part of something special, and that community has helped mold her into the woman she is today.
“I haven’t left this place for a reason,” Schissel said. “I always say when I walk onto GCU’s campus, it’s like Disneyland. It’s like a feeling that you can’t really describe. It’s just a very special place, and I’ve felt that since day one and I still feel it every single day.”
Schissel has been able to grow her business and leadership knowledge since her days in student leadership thanks to all the opportunities that the University has provided her.
“GCU has been such a huge blessing in my life,” Schissel said. “I think that this is the best experience that I could have asked for from college transitioning to real world, and that’s due to not only my classes but the experiences with Student Engagement, student leadership, working in Marketing and then transitioning to the different companies.
“I think just all those experiences have been able to guide me and shape my vision for the rest of my life.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]