Schoolcraft’s Brewing & Distillation Technology program creatively celebrated International Women’s Day with a “Unite” brew on Monday as a nod to the International Womens Collaboration Brew.
The International Womens Collaboration Brew is held in conjunction with International Women's Day on March 8, which is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
“This is the first year we have done this at Schoolcraft,” said Annette May, faculty member in the BDT program and CEPD* instructor. “It’s great to celebrate that women love to brew, drink quality beer and that women all around the world will be joining together to do this.”
May brings a unique perspective and background to an event like this. First, she is an Advanced Cicerone® (pronounced sis-uh-rohn), meaning she is an expert with beer and food pairing, among other abilities. May was the first to achieve Advanced Cicerone status in Michigan.
Second, as a native of Australia, she adds international flavor.
“I know everyone thinks of Australia as some exotic place, but it’s really no different as here,” said May, who has lived in the United States for 30 years. “We speak the same language, we live in big cities, we drink and brew beer. It’s really just the same.”
In addition to May, Monday’s celebration included four students and two alumni. Each enjoyed the opportunity to meet and network with other women in the industry.
“I think networking is really important in this industry, but I think it’s extra important for women because we’re essentially a minority,” May said.
Said Rickie Juszkiewicz, who graduated in December, “It’s great to be able to support other women in brewing.”
Kasey Bunio, who will graduate this spring, added, “We’re also honoring women who are already in the industry who paved the path for us.”
The Brewing & Distillation Technology program offers a 360-degree education that balances the science of brewing with practical, real-world experience.
“Brewing is all about science – chemistry and physics in particular,” May said. “You have to start there. But given the state of the industry, it’s important to be able to set yourself apart. We teach our students business, marketing, beer service, line cleaning, sensory evaluation of the product. It’s important to understand all that. It’s a well-rounded education.”
Hannah Williamson, a first-year student, agrees.
“I like how hands-on and practical it is,” she said. “Everything the teachers talk about, they have you do – whether that’s brewing, evaluating beer, anything. It’s not just theory. I feel like I have confidence in what I learn.”
The passion all the instructors have is key as well.
“It’s a great program,” said Ashley Kull, who will graduate this spring. “I was very excited to find a program where I could make my passion for beer a career.”
Nicole Fitzmaurice, who also will graduate this spring, added, “Someday I want to open my own place with my sister. I really like the practical, hands-on experience. All the teachers have experience in the industry and are passionate about what they do.”
International Women’s Day facts
- The first International Women’s Day was in 1911.
- Internationally, purple is used to symbolize women.
- Historically the combination of purple, green and white to symbolize women's equality originated from the Women's Social and Political Union in the United Kingdom in 1908.
- Purple signifies justice and dignity
- Green symbolizes hope
- White represents purity, but is no longer used due to “purity” being a controversial concept
- This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, chosen because an equal world is an enabled world
*CEPD stands for Continuing Education and Professional Development