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May 11, 2022

Sacred Heart University brews up scholarship for women

Photo | Courtesy Tracy Deer-Mirek

Sacred Heart University has developed a new scholarship for women looking to tap into the male-dominated craft brewing industry.

SHU partnered with Back East Brewing Company of Bloomfield and the state chapter of the Pink Boots Society in developing the annual $15,000 scholarship for women pursuing a career in beer-making. SHU and Back East Brewing each contributed half of the scholarship amount.

The Pink Boots Society is a national group that advocates for women and nonbinary people in the brewing industry.

SHU awarded the first scholarship of its kind in March for the 2022-2023 academic year, with plans to offer it again next year.

The idea behind the scholarship is to address low female representation in craft brewing. The full scholarship covers SHU’s one-year brewing science certificate program in the University’s St. Vincent’s College.

“We couldn’t be more ecstatic about the CT Pink Boots Society Scholarship for Women in Brewing,” said Vinny Cataudella, associate dean for success and engagement at St. Vincent’s College. “We share the commitment the Pink Boots Society has to help women advance their careers through education and are proud that SHU’s brewing science certificate program can provide a vehicle for women looking to start or advance their careers in the brewing industry.”
Mariah Billian and Abby Bibens are co-leaders of Connecticut’s Pink Boots Society chapter, and are currently working as tap room managers at Outer Light Brewery in Groton and Hop Culture Farms & Brew Co. in Colchester, respectively.

“We’re excited,” said Bibens. “This is an opportunity to encourage more women to be part of the brew industry and to have a voice. Now women in the industry can confidently say, ‘I went to school; I know what I’m talking about.’ Everyone is on the same level.”

SHU’s brewing science certificate program offers training in scientific brewing theory, ingredient science and recipe design, beer styles, sensory analysis science, brewery management, and sanitation and safety.

According to Cataudella, the initial scholarship attracted quite a few applicants. He said seven applicants were interviewed, and one was ultimately awarded the scholarship. For the incoming class this fall, Cataudella said there will be seven new female/nonbinary students, out of 23 at the moment, to enter SHU’s brewing certificate program.

“That number exceeds the total number of female/nonbinary students that have completed the program in our first two years, combined, so we’re very excited,” Cataudella said.

To be considered for the scholarship, a student must be admitted into the brewing science certificate program and identify as female or nonbinary. Priority consideration will be given to students who reside in Connecticut and demonstrate financial need, as determined by submission of the free application for federal student aid.

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