Congratulations to Kristina Tajiri, the winner of the 2017 Robert W. Hiller Scholarship, a national scholarship established through the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA). This year marks the thirteenth year the award has been given to a student studying in the area of baking/pastry arts. The scholarship was presented to Tajiri at the WBA’s annual awards night on March 13, 2017.
Tajiri graduated from John Hersey High School and began attending Milwaukee Area Technical College last fall. She was one of three finalists for the award. The other finalists were Georgeanna Stockemer and Alex Burgess.
In her essay for the scholarship, Tajiri wrote, “Seven years after discovering my dream and following what I love, I’m starting my first year at MATC in the baking and pastry program and learning from some of the top pastry chefs in Milwaukee.” Inspired by both of her grandmothers and her aunt, she added, “I only have one goal in life and that is after I graduate, work in bakeries and learn the business under some of the best and then one day have my own bakery and hope to be one of the best.”
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 Tajiri as this year’s winner.
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.