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We’re excited to introduce you to the inaugural winner of the Collective Arts Brewing Scholarship at Niagara College! Laura Garzon is a second-year student in Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program and was recently selected for our $2,000 scholarship aimed at improving diversity and inclusion in the brewing industry.
Born in Colombia, Laura moved to Toronto with her family in 2003. She got into craft beer when she was 19 while working in restaurants. Laura’s first kitchen job was at Three Brewers in Toronto where she learned about the brewing process from the brew pub’s head brewer. From there she started home brewing and it wasn’t long before she knew craft beer was where he future was.
“I loved the combination of science and creativity that brewing offered,” Laura says. “After digging into the many craft breweries in Toronto and surrounding areas I decided to commit and apply to the Brewing program at Niagara College.”
As Laura got deeper into the craft brewing world, she started asking herself a familiar question: “will there be anyone who looks like me?”
“Having been born in South America, I know how important it is to be able to feel at home when you’re miles away from family,” Laura explains. “I look for places and people that remind me of my culture, which is something that has become more difficult as I delve into the brewing industry.”
While the brewing industry is certainly making strides towards equitable representation, it’s no secret that there’s still a ways to go. As Laura continues her journey in craft beer she says it’s crucial that the industry continue making these steps to increase diversity.
“As I grow as a brewer, my goal is to achieve an industry where anybody who wants to be a part of it can feel like they will be welcomed, but more importantly can feel like they belong,” she says. “It isn’t enough to say ‘everybody is welcome,’ but it’s definitely a start.”
Laura finishes school in August and her goal is to join a brewery where she can grow as a professional brewer and be involved in the industry first hand. “I would also love to be a part of recipe development although that is definitely further down the line.”
Hometown: Born in Colombia, grew up in Toronto, ON, Canada
Favourite part of brewing: Recipe design
Go-to beer style: Munich Dunkel
Favourite beer right now: Guava Gose (“Totally unbiased, I swear!”)
Interests outside beer: “I have a bit of a culinary background so I always enjoy cooking at home. I particularly love seafood and any and all fruits but not together (or maybe?). Other than that I enjoy swimming and being anywhere close to water, houseplants, and occasional video games.”
ABOUT THE COLLECTIVE ARTS BREWING SCHOLARSHIP
The Collective Arts Brewing Scholarship awards $2000 to a student in Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program from a background that has been historically under-represented in brewing. Examples include, but are not limited to: women, Indigenous peoples, Racial/ethnic/religious minorities, people with disabilities, first generation Canadians, and LGBTQ+.
Our goal is to help make the beer industry a diverse industry so we can all be push the boundaries of what hops, yeast, water and malt can do for the world.