Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

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Lisa Evaristo

Lisa Evaristo, PSY/CD Alumni Advisory Board Member
Co-owner, Back to the Table Cooking School

What is your current profession?

I co-own Back to the Table Cooking School and Production Kitchen with my sister Leslie Pease (Home Economics, ’78). It is a cooking and baking school in Lafayette, California that hosts classes, caters private events, and offers a production kitchen.

How did your child development education contribute to your success?

I have always had a passion for kids and food. I went through my classes at Cal Poly thinking I was going to work in the daycare field. Even though I didn’t, I am very glad I paid attention in all my CD and PSY classes! We interact with customers on a daily basis. Our classes at Cal Poly (my sister is also a Cal Poly grad!) taught us to have eye contact, to give a brief synopsis of what they said back to them, and how to use my tone and body language to communicate effectively. Students will use lessons from CD and PSY classes in everyday interactions that they can’t even imagine… no matter what they end up doing!

I teach the middle and high school classes and camps at the cooking school. This combines my two passions, but it also puts to good use everything I learned in the child development labs and in psychology classes. Kids walk straight from school over to our classes, so we are the first stop after all the drama of school. Being able to talk to these kids can make the difference in their day, but most importantly, it helps them see how they feel and see themselves. There are a lot of life skills learned in the kitchen!

What was your favorite Child Development Learn by Doing experience at Cal Poly?

The labs! Specifically, I loved interacting with the kids and their families. The meetings we would have before and after the families were there provided a great wealth of information. It allowed us to gain insight on how people think and also to understand the ‘why’ of what we were doing. The labs also taught me what is probably the most valuable tool I learned: how to use the tone, speed and volume of your voice, as well as your body language to communicate and let them know you are listening.

You generously give both resources and time to the Psychology and Child Development Department. Can you describe your passion for the department?

How could you not?! I ask other grads to think about what a CP education did for you. The Learn by Doing approach has had such an impact on everything in my life including how I raised my children, how I approach every job head on and even how my sister and I developed a hands-on model for our cooking school. Giving back, in whatever form, to the school that gave me so much was the easiest decision I’ve made!

How would you like to see fellow Alumni get involved with the department? 

My advice: just do it! Maybe right now all you can do is write a small check. It all counts! If you have two days a year, be a part of the alumni board. Not only do you get to come back to visit SLO, but you get to be a part of making a difference. Isn’t that why we were PSY or CD majors in the first place?

When I got the call to serve on the PSY/CD Alumni Board, my children were babies. I had literally just gotten home from the hospital from the birth of my second child. Now I have two kids attending Cal Poly! My children grew up with our passion for Cal Poly (my husband is also a Cal Poly grad), and it might have helped influence where they wanted to go.

What impact would you like to see alumni have on our students? 

We have the opportunity to make a real difference. Donations are always needed and appreciated. We can also directly impact the students through “career mentoring” and networking events. Imagine if you had known the wide variety of jobs that were available to you before you graduated – life changing!  

Your family has quite a Cal Poly legacy. How many of your relatives attended Cal Poly? 

Leslie (Maher) Pease (Home Economics, ’78), Chris Maher (Business Economics, ’81), Sheila Maher (Physical Education, ’83), Rico Evaristo (Business Marketing, ’86), myself (Psychology & Human Development, ’88), Ryan Pease (Business Finance, ’07), Nicole (Wilson) Pease (Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration, ’07), Patrick Maher (Industrial Technology, ’11), Megan Pease (Environmental Management and Protection, ’13), Thomas Maher (Agricultural Science, ’13), and J. Nathaniel Evaristo is a third-year and Jessica Evaristo is a first-year, both agriculture business majors.

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