Congratulations to Gina Santora, the winner of the 2016 Robert W. Hiller Scholarship, a national scholarship established through the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA). This year marks the twelfth year the award has been given to a student studying in the area of baking/pastry arts.
This year’s recipient is from East Hanover, NJ. Santora recently graduated from Hanover Park High School and plans to attend Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI this fall. She was one of four finalists for the award. The other finalists were McKayla Dietzen, Samantha Brown, and Katelyn Heupel.
In her essay for the scholarship, Santora said, “Culinary Arts has always been a dream profession for her.” Inspired by Rachael Ray, she hopes to one day open her own pastry shop as well as offer classes to share her love for baking with everyone.
Three WBA Members from the Education Committee interviewed the finalists for this year’s scholarship. Tony Nieto of Neato’s Bake Shoppe in Baraboo, WI, Ken Heil of Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe in Waukesha, WI, and Tamara Mugerauer of Tamara’s the Cake Guru in Oshkosh, WI selected Santora as this year’s winner.
“Deciding on this year’s winner was definitely a challenge for the committee,” said WBA’s CEO, David Schmidt. “All four of the applicants interviewed remarkably well and had impressive letters of recommendation.”
The Robert W. Hiller Scholarship Fund was established on Nov. 5, 2000, to support and encourage people who have demonstrated a passion for a profession in the baking/pastry arts field. A $1,000 scholarship is awarded to the applicant who can best demonstrate this career commitment. The program intends to provide a financial resource for the education of students who will be the future of the baking industry.
The field of applicants has continued to grow over the years and applicants once again came from all over the United States. The WBA’s goal for the future is to continue to spread the word about this award to baking/pastry arts programs at schools throughout the United States.
In addition to the Robert W. Hiller Scholarship, the WBA also has awarded the WBA Scholarship this year. Congratulations to this year’s WBA Scholarship recipient, McKayla Dietzen, from DePere, WI. Dietzen will be attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY this fall.
In her essay, Dietzen said, “Every time I think about doing what I am most passionate about every day, my heart swells with excitement. Thinking about my future, I smile, knowing I will be doing what I love the most.”
Dietzen has worked at Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe in her hometown of DePere, WI since 2013. Her responsibilities include customer service and decorating cakes and cookies. Dietzen hopes to return to Wisconsin after graduation to open a bakery of her own where she can put her skills, education, and passion to use making others happy with her desserts.
“Thank you so much for awarding me with the Wisconsin Bakers Association Scholarship!” said Dietzen. “I am truly honored to receive a scholarship from such a well acclaimed organization, especially one so dedicated to helping young students, like myself, follow their passion for baking.”
This $1,000 scholarship has been awarded annually since 1984 to Wisconsin students in the baking profession. More than $26,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to students through the WBA Scholarship. Scholarship applications are accepted throughout the year and more than one scholarship may be awarded per year. The application for this scholarship can be found on the WBA website at http://www.wibakers.com