Writer’s Workshop: Big Fish, Small Pond

Source: Pixabay

The prompt for this is “You won an award at some point in your life, what was it for?”

I’ve addressed this topic for MKPMWFWW once before, but in reading over my entry for that, I forgot the biggest one, or at least it should have been.

After spending two years barely keeping my head above water at Nortwestern, I took a battery of aptitude tests that indicated that my academic interests were in Business Administration. Since Northwestern had no bachelor’s program in Business Administration (it closed the year before I started), I would have to go elsewhere, “elsewhere” being Loyola University Chicago. This was where I had always imagined I would be going, anyway, given my family’s extensive history with the school.

Reading the course catalog after I had been admitted, I saw that there were seven undergraduate majors in the School of Business: Economics, Accounting, CPA Accounting (a more rigorous degree that prepared the graduate to take the CPA exam), Marketing, Finance, Personnel Management and Production & Operations Management. After reading the description of each, I decided that this last one would be the direction I would take. When I had my initial conversation with the Dean to inform him of my choice, his reaction was “are you sure?” When I assured him I was, he said, “well, okay….”

Production & Operations Management, if you’ve never heard of it (and I doubt you have), was still geared to manufacturing. The courses I took to get the degree included a course that could best be described as Industrial Engineering (an Industrial Engineer friend from Northwestern took a course that used the same textbook as I did), where we designed things like a dry cleaning establishment and a turkey abattoir; a course in Industrial Relations, where we learned the ins and outs of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 as it applied to union shops and negotiating contracts; a course in Cost Accounting; and a course in Statistical Quality Control, which was actually a lot of fun (I was a statistics whiz kid) and about which I remember nothing. I learned that there were only three other people majoring in the topic, and that most of the classes were offered at night so that actual working people could take the classes.

Anyway, shortly after I graduated, I received an invitation to an awards banquet for the School of Business. I had no idea why, so I asked one of my contacts (i.e. my stepfather, who was Director of Admissions) if he could find out why I had been invited. He called me back and told me that I had earned the Production Management Key, awarded to the top graduate in the major.

Understand, I had only attended Loyola for two years, and the determination of who was the best was decided only on their work there. Had they somehow found a way to factor in my earlier academic work, I doubt I would have gotten an invitation, let alone the award. Anyway, it was kind of a rush getting the thing, which I took home and stuck in a drawer, where I lost track of it. It kind of looked like the Phi Beta Kappa key…

Loyola doesn’t even offer a degree in Production & Operations Management anymore, and hasn’t for some time. Now you know why.

19 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Big Fish, Small Pond

  1. I’ve gotten so few awards in my life, I probably would have had that award dipped in gold and on display above fireplace to this day. 😉 Everyone would know I had the Key to Production Management.


    1. When she read it, Mary asked, “Do you still have it?” It seems to have been a casualty of the move. Oh well. The key was silver, so I doubt I would have dipped it in gold (except a good amount of tarnish had built up on it, and gold doesn’t tarnish).


    1. I went and looked at what they offer. The Production & Operations Management major and most of the classes I took are gone. As you suspected, IT management is there, Supply Chain Management (my degree had a little of this) is there, as well as Sport Management, which includes facility management (not actually a part of my degree, but should have been) and something called Entrepreneurship, about which someone said “if you need a degree in Entrepreneurship, you probably shouldn’t be an entrepreneur.” The IT management degree includes a lot of database management, but by and large is something you could pick up on your own (a lot of Windows code-slinging). Not especially impressive, frankly…


  2. It’s always nice to be recognized for your hard work and accomplishments! My first year on my current team at work I got the MVP award for the team. After that, it’s been all downhill. But I don’t think they’ve even given MVP awards for the past several years, so that makes me feel a little bit better about getting recognized once. And my store manager once gave me a pat on the back at the morning huddle (which I never attended because they took place when my department was already open) by telling everyone that I did a great job with little to no supervision/help. And honestly? It seems like it’s pretty hard in retail to find a motivated self-starter who will always find something to do and do it well, without being told to. I think we are a dying breed.



  3. I enjoy reading your tales of accomplishments. It may just be me, but I do feel like you’re still gifted at production – you roll out your blog posts with such impressive ease.


    1. Unfortunately, the emphasis of my major was on manufacturing, which is fine if you’re going to design factories (or abattoirs) or spend your days with a stopwatch watching someone work. With age comes insight (and hindsight, which is always 20/20), and looking back on it, there are lots of things I could have done with my degree besides being a software engineer or training specialist. Of course, many of those jobs didn’t even exist in the late ’70’s when I was unceremoniously dropkicked into the workforce…

      I’m glad you enjoy the stories! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL – I agree, back then, the dropkicking was common and expected, and working hard was as well. I suspect you were a very hard worker, and didn’t get rewarded as much as you deserved. Your efforts no doubt moved technology forward for the next round of peeps jumping into the workforce with dreams of changing the world!

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  4. Reminds me of Uncle Buck saying to his niece at the bowling alley: “if there was an award for getting as close to the pins as possible without knocking any over, you would be champion of the world.”


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