By Justin Hawkes and Maegan Murray
After graduating with her associate’s degree in 2003, Melinda Garza said she was still uncertain as to what to pursue as a career, but she knew she was interested in the arts of some kind.
She spent the next few years working at Home Depot, buying her time while working up the corporate ladder. But it wasn’t until she came to Washington State University Tri-Cities that she found her true passion: viticulture and enology
“You think you’re going to be doing a certain thing, but then life changes it for you,” she said. “It’s about following the signs and if it feels right, then go for it. The viticulture and enology program was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Garza said through viticulture and enology, she blends her two biggest passions: science and art.
“I was taking courses through the digital technology and culture major because I was interested in design when I overhead other students talking about the viticulture and enology program,” she said. “I enjoy wine and decided to give the program a try. I wanted to learn more and it ended up being a perfect fit. Wine science is an art of its own.”
Garza said learning from world-class professors, combined with completing courses at the university’s state-of-the-art Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center, were what have made her undergraduate experience a unique and enriching one.
She said one of her favorite courses she’s taken was a viticulture course with Bhaskar Bondada, associate professor of viticulture and enology. Throughout the course, she learned about the stages of growth of a grape vine, from when the vine first starts to bloom to the growth of the berries on the plant.
“Dr. Bondada is very passionate about what he does,” she said. “He paints a picture when he speaks, which makes students want to learn more. It’s infectious.”
Her coursework has also led to opportunities for real-world research.
Last year, Garza took a plant a plant pathology class from Naidu Rayapati, WSU associate professor and plant pathologist. One day after class, Rayapati pulled Garza to the side and asked if she was interested in being involved in research he was conducting over the summer in his lab. Garza jumped at the opportunity
During the summer experience, Garza conducted research at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser with two other students. They measured grape berry development from disease-infected vines and compared them with healthy vines. This gave them the opportunity to document the physiological differences in the berries as they developed. It also allowed them to explore how to prevent disease from spreading, as well as methods from preventing grapevine disease in the future. It peaked her interest and inspired her to want to learn more.
“It has really shaped my thoughts on what the important things are in the winemaking process,” she said. “When a wine comes out of a bottle, there is so much that goes into it before that ever happens. The most important thing is it starts out in the vineyard.”
Garza said she will continue to use what she learned in the classroom and through research experiences at WSU Tri-Cities in her future career as a winemaker.
“Just like an artist that applies paint to a canvas to create a portrait, winemakers apply their knowledge and skill in the field to create a sensory experience that people observe through their taste and smell,” she said. “Throughout every part of the winemaking process, it’s an artful experience. I can apply everything I learned in the vineyard to ultimately changes in taste in the wine I’m making.”
Garza is now completing an internship at Hogue Cellars in Prosser, Wash., as she finishes her last semester at WSU Tri-Cities.
So far in her internship, Garza said she has learned the processes of racking, juice additions and inoculations. She has also gotten familiar with the pumps, clamps hoses and sanitation in the winemaking process.
“I wanted to experience the production side of winemaking once the grapes are harvested,” she said. “It’s been an eye opening experience to see how much work goes into turning a truckload of grapes into the bottles of wine lining the grocery store aisles. It really does take a village.”
One day, Garza said she hopes to own her own small-operation estate winery, where she grows her own vineyard and makes wine from the fruit she grows.
“It will be something small and manageable by myself and a small staff,” she said. “It will be a test for myself to see if I can do it on my own. I hope by then to have enough experience, both from what I’ve learned through WSU, as well as in the industry, itself, to be successful.”
Garza said as a result of her course work, and combined with what she has learned through her internships, she feels more confident having some experience under her belt to be successful post graduation.
“With an open mind and a positive attitude, I am prepared to seek out opportunities that will help me grow as an aspiring winemaker,” she said. “I am excited to finally say that I will be a part of Washington State’s Wine Industry.”
WSU Tri-Cities graduate Austin Wingle using degree in digital technology and culture to expand horizons for career in graphic design
By Maegan Murray
Growing up, Austin Wingle, a recent graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities, volunteered his talents performing in productions and designing props.
During his downtime, he would draw and paint. It wasn’t long before he realized he could combine all his talents for graphic design.
“I didn’t always want to be a designer,” Wingle said. “Being creative for me was more of a fun thing to do. But I eventually realized that I could make a career out of being creative. I realized I could earn a living by creating designs for companies and other people.”
When looking at universities to attend, Wingle chose WSU Tri-Cities because it was a local option for him and he enjoyed the small campus atmosphere and small class sizes. Even more so, however, he said it was the project-based learning and the connections he made through the university that truly enriched his experience and prepared him for a future career in design.
Wingle said his degree in digital technology in culture allowed him to explore many facets of multimedia design and content creation. In addition to graphic design, students learn about video production, media writing, sound production, layout design and more.
“The DTC degree focuses on many different things with the focus always drawing back to communicating with new media and technology,” he said. “There are many different career paths that one can take with a degree in DTC, and it is up to the student to decide where they want to take it.”
Wingle said while his art courses taught the fundamentals of art, design and more, he said professors also encouraged them to pursue non-conventional projects and art designs, which strengthened his outlets of creativity.
“In some courses, we were encouraged to break the rules of design and to experiment,” he said. “The multimedia authoring courses, which are digital technology and culture courses, were also beneficial because I was able to create communication pieces for different types of media.”
As a result of the small campus atmosphere, Wingle said he found it easy to connect with his professors, which led him to internships and other professional opportunities.
Wingle worked as a graphic design intern for WSU Tri-Cities’ advancement and community engagement department, the office of student life and campus recreation. He also helped Peter Christenson, assistant professor of fine arts and digital technology and culture, edit his Fulbright Scholar video on Dundee, Scotland, which the professor used as part of an exhibition at WSU Tri-Cities and in other showcases.
“Working as a student graphic designer while going to school has been the most beneficial thing that I have done,” he said. “It’s been a way to catalogue my progression of work overtime, as well as a way to add to my skills in school work through my DTC courses.”
Currently, Wingle serves as a program coordinator for the office of student life, where he utilizes his skills regularly in graphic design. He said he hopes to continue to improve his design skills, with his ultimate goal of one-day landing a position with Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas as a designer.
“Thanks to the opportunities I was presented with at WSU Tri-Cities, I feel I stand out from the crowd,” he said. “While I took courses in DTC, I also worked in the field I was studying right from the start. I think I’m ahead of the game.”
WSU Tri-Cities graduate Pauline Garza using degree in hospitality business management to accelerate career in culinary industry
By Maegan Murray
Pauline Garza, a 2016 graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities, has never wanted to be anything other than a chef.
Growing up, she said she remembers watching her mother and grandmother cook, hoping one day that she, too, would take hold of a spoon to whip up something that would captivate the senses.
“I just love food,” she said. “Becoming a chef has always been on my mind. I never really thought of doing anything else.”
Garza held a few jobs in the restaurant industry, and even job shadowed at Table 10, one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in Las Vegas. She served as a full-time chef for the 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar in Richland, where she planned the menus, completed the shopping, researched meal ideas and prepared courses for restaurant customers. Now, she works at the front of the house at the LU LU Craft Bar + Kitchen in Richland.
Garza said through her experience in earning a degree from WSU Tri-Cities in hospitality business management, many new doors have opened to her and her career in the food and beverage industry.
Last year, Garza enrolled in the hospitality business management (HBM) degree program at WSU Tri-Cities, which was offered at the campus for the first time last fall. The WSU Faculty Senate voted to extend the bachelor of arts degree to the Carson College of Business on the Tri Cities campus March 12, 2015. The degree offers two majors: HBM and wine business management.
Garza said she originally started her degree at the WSU Pullman campus, but due to personal reasons, decided to move back home and put school on hold. She resumed school at WSU Tri-Cities and planned on getting a business degree since the campus didn’t offer the HBM degree. But now that she could specialize in HBM, she would have the opportunity to apply even more of what she learns in the classroom to her career.
“I was really worried when I left Pullman that I wouldn’t have the same opportunities, but now, I like to think that I’m in the Tri-Cities for a reason,” she said.
Shortly after graduation this spring, Garza set set off to participate in a WSU faculty-led food and wine study abroad program in Florence, Italy, where she studied for six weeks at the Florence University of the Arts.
The first three weeks were spent in a cooking class led by a reputable chef in the university’s Apicius International School of Hospitality, in addition to taking an Italian language class. The last half of the experience was spent learning about the production of wine, exploring the taste elements of wine, as well as how to pair wine with food through a variation of courses. Garza and her classmates also exchanged shifts at Ganzo, the student-led restaurant of Florence University of the Arts, providing them with a variety of real-world career experiences.
As a result of her success in the program, Garza was chosen to represent Washington State University in New York, where she will cook alongside executive chef Andrea Trapani as part of the James Beard Foundation’s Tutto Toscana Program this fall. Through the program, Garza will study food and wine management and will learn to prepare dishes for large events.
“The James Beard Foundation is one of America’s most well-known and respected culinary foundations,” she said. “My study abroad experience changed my life in such a beautiful way and has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Cindy Goulet (’90), owner of 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar, LU LU Craft Bar + Kitchen and a graduate of WSU Pullman’s hotel and restaurant program, said she is thrilled about the WSU Tri-Cities campus offering the degree. She said it will allow her to find even more talented employees like Garza.
“I think it is really exciting,” she said. “We are always looking for talented people. We are so fortunate to have (Pauline) here.”
Garza said she is already putting what she has learned through her business classes at the university to good use. She said school helps keep her motivated and increases her potential to be a better chef and future business owner.
“I want to have my own bistro and influence others who are passionate about the food industry,” she said. “I want to make beautiful food for everybody. It’s all about getting that smile after the first bite from my customers.”