Lisa Ramsey

Find your passion, give it your all, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Lisa Ramsey , Culinary Instructor, MS, CEC, CEPC , The Art Institute of Tennessee — Nashville, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

Every summer I spent time in the kitchen with my grandmother making desserts from old family recipes. It gave me a sense of pride being able to carry on my family’s heritage, secrets, and love for homemade products. That love became my passion for pastry and cooking.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

Having been in the industry for over 25 years, every day I can share my stories and anecdotes. I love teachable moments backed by personal experience. I take a real-world scenario and walk students through what happened and what the results were—good or bad. It shows that I’m human like them, and they tend to relate more to me.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

There’s a perfect scenario I like to use, especially in the introductory classes. Recipes must be completed as a group, and there’s usually a student who doesn’t participate as much as the rest of the team. It’s a great opportunity for the team to practice their management skills. I ask them to pretend that this student is working for them, and to step back and figure out what they need to do to engage the student, motivate them, and help them grow.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

When we open a restaurant, we need pictures, a website, marketing, and maybe a commercial, so we need to tap into the expertise of others. I encourage students to gather input from students in other programs to help with their projects. Friendships are often forged this way. After they graduate, they have resources to help them with real-life scenarios.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Accountability—for their actions, their successes, and their failures. I urge them to take accountability for your mistakes, make them teachable moments for your future, and determine what you could have done to change the outcome. Bosses admire people who are accountable. As a leader or a mentor, your staff will be more likely to follow you if you’re accountable and honest.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Find your passion, give it your all, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s nothing more satisfying than waking up every morning excited to go to work. Triumph or tragedy, make the most out of every day and learn from your experiences.