Reviewing Scholarships and Building Friendships

A recruiter is only as successful as the people she knows.  To know great people, networking is a constant part of my job.  This is with winery owners and executives who will be hiring talent, and with people who I hope to place with those clients one day.  Building a pipeline of educated candidates allows me to know exceptional talent when one of my clients needs it.  For years I’ve been involved in scholarship programs so that there are educated wine professionals ensuring a bright future for the wine industry. 14 years ago, I started reviewing Cal Aggie Alumni Association (CAAA) Leadership Scholarships for incoming UC Davis students.  This was a very interesting project, allowing me to meet young leaders and honor their achievements with scholarships.  Shortly thereafter I chaired the scholarship committee, leading the application review, coordinating scholar interviews and ultimately awarding money to the students we felt exhibited leadership in their past and that would bring that characteristic to their time at UCD and beyond.

Chairing a committee does require time and people management.  But it is not drudgery.  I have fostered many great friendships during these committee meetings.  I met new UCD Aggies who participated in the application review.  I coordinated with local business owners to have interview space and recruited my friends who were fellow UCD alum to help with application review.  This review and interview process was full of friendly conversations as well as making tough decisions on which incoming student would receive the leadership scholarship.  But together we did it professionally and politely for everyone involved.  After all the scholars were identified and notified, our review committee would meet up for a toast at a local restaurant.  This allowed our group to further cement our bonds and look forward to working together again

Today I continue my volunteer activities with CAAA, transitioning to the student success committee and for several years now I’ve been on the nomination committee; interviewing people for CAAA Board, Alumni Regent and CAAA VP/President positions.  Getting to meet fellow UCD alumni who are actively promoting Davis around the world is quite enlightening.  Learning why they want to serve UCD further as well as what skills they will bring to the group is always fascinating.

Years ago, I became a member of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV).  When I spoke to AAAV’s President, Phil Long, I said that I’d love to be involved with their scholarship committee.  For the last 4 years I’ve been on the Education and Scholarship Committee, and for the last two years I’ve been the committee chair.  Our scholarships include wine educational courses at the Napa Valley Wine Academy and Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute.

Sonoma State University Scholars

As committee chair, I’m responsible for setting the agenda and holding our committee meetings.  When it comes time to review scholarship applications, our team works together to review all applicants and determine our award winners.  Over the last few years we have awarded over 100 scholarships to people getting their wine education from Level 1 WSET to American Wine Expert on up to their MBA in Wine Business.  We have awarded scholarships to winemakers, wine marketers, viticulturists, business owners and hospitality professionals.  Our scholars are from a broad array of backgrounds, from across the country and Puerto Rico and we have international scholarship recipients in France and India.  Our committee worked together to screen these applications and reached out to our them with the awards.  Offering scholarships to people newly interested in the wine industry is very enjoyable and getting to know some of our highly experienced wine professionals is quite rewarding.

Being involved in scholarships is very satisfying.  But it is not role simply about reviewing applications and determining who to award scholarship money too.  Involvement in these groups has allowed me to make many new friendships in and out of the wine industry.  I now know many people involved with AAAV and CAAA that I wouldn’t know otherwise.  A Sacramento wine saleswoman I know is now at UCD and puts on CAAA alumni events.  She and I connect at various industry meetings, and we recently met up in Napa Valley at AAAV’s Symposium.  She was looking to partner with winemakers for her upcoming 5A Wine and Jazz event at UCD this May.  She and a fellow 5A Network Leader (and CAAA Board member I’ve enjoyed working with immensely) both attended our symposium, meeting several winemakers and winery owners who are excited to be involved with the event.  (To find out more about the Wine and Jazz event, visit  https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/events/save-date-5a-wine-jazz-2024)

Providing educational opportunities helps increase skills of future wine professionals.  Increasing the skill level of employees increases the success of the wine industry.  Building friendships along the way is an added bonus.  I always encourage people to volunteer in any way they can.  Often the payout is much bigger than the immediate task at hand.

To find out about opportunities with the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, please visit https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/ there’s even an Aggie Alum Wine Club!  https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/membership/aggies-uncorked

To get involved with Association of African American Vintners, visit our newly renovated website:  https://aaavintners.org/.  We have many scholarship opportunities, with more being developed now.  We also have informative meetings and networking opportunities.

Check out https://sbe.sonoma.edu/scholarships to find out about scholarships at Sonoma State.

Congratulations to all of the scholars I’ve worked with, and thank you to my old and new friends in the wine industry for making this industry so much fun to work in.











Share the Article

Related articles