A.R. Rahman once stated, “Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life. To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head.”  After interviewing Maria Zaffina, a cafeteria worker for Cedar Grove High School, I learned that true success is not about the amount of money you make, but it is about the true happiness that you bring to people.

Maria Zaffina has been working for Pomptonian Food Services for 41 years. She was born in Calabria, Italy and moved to Canada at the age of eighteen, where she then stayed for nineteen years before moving to the United States. Cooking has always been Maria’s passion. She began cooking at an Italian catering hall with her mother. The beginning of her career started at Passaic Valley where she worked as a substitute in November of 1974. In 1976, Maria was called to cook for Cedar Grove High School, however, at first, she did not know if she wanted to do it. She was told to try it for two weeks to see if she liked it, and by the end of two weeks, Maria fell in love. Following her passion for cooking, Maria grows a garden with vegetables and herbs, such as tomatoes and basil, which are then brought into school so that Maria can cook her famous Italian specialties.

Aside from simply cooking. Maria puts a smile on so many faces. Maria Sinopoli, a coworker, spoke very highly of Maria and stated, “Working with Maria is a pleasure every day. She is not only a great cook and person, but she makes me laugh.” From most of the women that I have seen, I have never seen someone as happy or as strong as Maria. She connects with everyone that she cooks for, knowing certain things that each person enjoys. To Maria, cooking is her happiness and passion. Even if she is not feeling her best, Maria still wakes up and goes to work. She loves to cook and loves the kids. Maria  is the proven definition of a strong, humble, beautiful, and happy woman. If you have not met her yet, you are truly missing out on a woman who will change the way you look at success and happiness.  However, if you do stop by the cafeteria, do not forget to say hello and thank you to Maria.

The author is a senior at Cedar Grove High School and a member of the Television Production Class.