Ballast Point awards second Brewing for Diversity Scholarship

Pure Project employee, SDBN staffer Chris Leguizamon earns big educational opp

Ballast Point Brewing is pleased to announce the recipient of its second-annual Brewing for Diversity scholarship initiative in partnership with the UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies Brewing Certificate Program. This scholarship seeks to advance diversity and inclusion across all aspects of the brewing community by providing avenues for education and opportunities for future professional employment. The scholarship grants underrepresented students the funds and tools they need to participate successfully in Extended Studies’ Brewing Certificate Program.

This year’s recipient is Chris Leguizamon, a first-generation Latin American who had paused furthering his education in brewing due to financial reasons. Chris is an Advanced Cicerone, BJCP-certified Beer Judge, a current beer-industry professional serving as Education Program Manager for Vista-based Pure Project Brewing, and the Beer Education Columnist for San Diego Beer News. The Brewing for Diversity scholarship allows him to gain additional education and industry knowledge as a means to empower and inspire others to take the next big steps in their beer careers through education.

According to a 2019 Brewers Association study, current race and ethnicity demographics of U.S. brewery employees skew overwhelmingly white for production staff (76.2%) and brewers (89%). In recognizing the need for more equitable representation, Ballast Point set out in 2020 to develop a partnership initiative focused on promoting a more united community, reinforced by a deeper understanding and appreciation of inclusivity and equality.

The Brewing for Diversity scholarship provides full tuition and related fees for one student annually starting or continuing in the Brewing Certificate Program. Each recipient is also given the opportunity to intern at Ballast Point’s Miramar and Little Italy locations to gain real-world insight into brewery production and operations and to become well-equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the industry professionally.

“Education is my way to empower and inspire the people around me. Lifting up the industry by leading by example and giving back is my true north,” said Leguizamon. “My parents would always tell me as a kid, ‘people can take physical things away from you but your education can never be robbed.’ Education as a first-generation Colombian American has always been the solution to getting ahead in society. The amazing work that Ballast Point has created through the Brewing for Diversity scholarship truly lifts up underrepresented communities by opening doors so that others may make a positive impact in the beer world. I hope to always be an ambassador for education because the more we learn, the more we grow.”

UCSD’s Extended Studies’ Brewing Certificate Program was the first of its kind in Southern California and was originally developed in 2013 by Dan Atkinson and Peter Thomas, who made it a point to reach out to female homebrewers, scientists, engineers and those who may not have considered the brewing industry as a career option. The brewing program curriculum focuses on the science and technology of brewing and provides students with the technical skill and knowledge to competitively enter or advance within the professional brewing industry. Taught by leading professional brewers and other industry professionals, the program consists of part-time, evening and weekend sessions that offer academic and practical training for entry-level brewing professionals and can be completed in 12-to-18 months.

“Our partnership with Ballast Point continues to provide access to world-class brewing training and education to underrepresented communities and individuals,” said Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, Extended Studies Laura Fandino. “We’re honored to share a commitment to ensuring a talented and diverse workforce in the craft brewing industry.”

The inaugural 2021 Brewing for Diversity scholarship recipient was Elia Gómez Smith (pictured above), a first-generation immigrant and the youngest of eight siblings born and raised in México. With a formal education in STEM and a B.A., in Chemistry, Smith seeks to promote the elements of inclusion, health and belonging in the beer industry, and sees an enormous opportunity to increase the appeal of fermented beverages through experimentation to a broader audience, including women and cultures that may not drink these products brewed using traditional techniques. Smith has completed the Extended Studies’ Brewing Certificate Program and will receive hands-on learning and mentorship through her funded internship with Ballast Point this fall.

The Brewing for Diversity selection committee is composed of members of Ballast Point and UCSD Division of Extended Studies. Click here o learn more about Ballast Point’s Brewing for Diversity Scholarship and how to apply.

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