Tapping Potential Scholarship winner Chijindu Onwuchekwa poses with keg
Brewer Chijindu Onwuchekwa poses at Bature Brewery, West Africa's first craft brewery. (Photo courtesy)

UC Davis Tapping Potential Scholarship Spotlight: Chijindu Onwuchekwa

Chijindu Onwuchekwa is a brewer and quality control supervisor at Bature Brewery, Nigeria’s first microbrewery. With a bachelor’s degree in applied microbiology and brewing, she has been making beer for four years, and at home, she experiments with raw materials such as hibiscus, bananas, pineapples and locally sourced dates. She’s always wanted to continue her education and become a master brewer, but financial constraints prevented her from doing so. Until now. As the winner of the 2022 UC Davis Tapping Potential Scholarship for the online Master Brewers Certificate Program at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, Onwuchekwa can make her dream a reality.   

I always said that my five-year goal is to become a master brewer. I am one foot in the door to achieving that thanks to this scholarship.”  

What motivated you to apply for the scholarship?

I made a decision towards the end of last year to be intentional about continuing my education, and that led me to speaking with some people in the industry and opening up to them. When I learned about the scholarship, I knew I had to seize the opportunity for my career advancement. I always said that my five-year goal is to become a master brewer. I am one foot in the door to achieving that thanks to this scholarship.   

How do you help to inspire diversity?

There are not many female craft brewers where I am from. In fact, I have had a lot of people say that I am the first female brewer they have seen. It is not a very common career choice, but my parents have been accepting of it. I hope I am able to inspire women from around these parts that they can also brew amazing beer because brewing started with ale wives. We can take back the reins.  

How will education from UC Davis help you make a bigger impact?

I have been looking to take my career to an international level. I notice most jobs say it’s a plus to have the Master Brewers Certificate from UC Davis. I have no doubt that this education will give me an edge and upper hand in the industry. World-class education from the likes of Charles Bamforth, Glen Fox and Jon Hughes can only mean that I go on to brew the finest of beers.  

Chijindu Onwuchekwa in brewery holding a beer and smiling while on the phone
Onwuchekwa says what she enjoys most about brewing is seeing people come by the taproom and leaving satisfied. (Photo courtesy)

What has motivated you to overcome the challenges of not fitting the brewing standard?

This is me giving a shout out to all the people who are intrigued and even go to lengths to support my brewing career. I have not had a hard time working with my male counterparts. They in fact believe in me and trust that I can take care of brewing, packaging and even the quality control side of the beer.  

What advice will you give someone who may not see themselves represented in the industry but would like to pursue a career in brewing?

I would like to say that you are not alone. You are special and the uniqueness you possess is what can bring the change we need in the industry. So do not give up on your dreams or stop fighting for your voice to be heard.   

What are you most looking forward to about starting the online certificate program?

I really look forward to gaining more in-depth technical know-how, as I look to open the first female-led brewery in Nigeria.  

For more information on UC Davis Tapping Potential or how to support the campaign, contact Jonathan Hughes.

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