By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report on the growing population of students on college campuses who are considered “food insecure” (see The Atlantic and The Chronicle of Higher Education to learn more). In response to their needs, Jesuit institutions are among the many colleges and universities in the United States that are beginning to open food pantries on campus. Our Catholic heritage compels us to serve those who are less fortunate; providing access to healthy food is one way that our schools can live out their mission.
To date, the following AJCU schools have opened food pantries or are planning to open them on campus: Creighton University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Regis University, Saint Louis University and the University of Detroit Mercy. In this issue of Connections, you will learn about ways that two more schools, Gonzaga University and Loyola University Maryland, are serving their students and helping to raise awareness of food insecurity among their local communities.
It’s easy to see why some alumni of Jesuit institutions may be inspired to pursue careers in industries and organizations focused on food: from production to advocacy, food brings us together, but ensures our survival. Our shared Catholic heritage also helps to create the sense of community that so many students experience on our campuses. One way that this spirit of community is made manifest is, of course, through the Mass. And it is through the Mass that we celebrate the Eucharist and receive bread and wine made flesh into the body and blood of Christ.
It only makes sense then that this issue also includes stories of men and women who have graduated from Jesuit institutions and begun careers in industries that include, of course, wine! At Santa Clara University, wine is an important part of its history and Catholic identity: the University was founded by Jesuits in 1851, on land that included a vineyard where Franciscans had previously harvested grapes for altar wine. The sense of camaraderie and community that comes through sharing good drinks together is also seen in Milwaukee, where a number of Marquette University alumni are now making names for themselves as brew masters and brewery owners.
Through this issue of Connections, we hope you will learn more about the ways that our schools are inspiring students to pursue careers in the food and beverage industry, always keeping in mind those who are the least among us. As Pope Francis said in a 2013 address on food and agriculture, “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”
By Deborah Lohse and Tracy Seipel, Office of Marketing and Communications, Santa Clara University
You could say that Santa Clara University has had wine in its veins since its beginning.
When it was founded by the Jesuits as Santa Clara College in 1851, a tiny vineyard already existed on the site formerly owned by Franciscans, who harvested the grapes for altar wine. By the 1870s, the College had purchased land in the Cupertino Hills of California, according to Rev. Daniel Peterson, S.J., an archivist of the Jesuits West Province. There, a much larger vineyard produced sacramental wines for local Catholic churches, as well as commercial wines—under the label Villa Maria—as revenue for the College.
But it was among the flood of emigre Jesuits fleeing persecution in Italy—some of whom made their way to the new college—that a longer-term investment was made in 1888. The Jesuits established the Novitiate Winery as a way to help fund education for seminary students at the adjacent Los Gatos novitiate, buttressed by their purchase in 1940 of the assets of Villa Maria Winery.
For nearly 100 years, that historic Novitiate Winery made altar wines, port and other wines on site. Today, the winery produces award-winning wines from Testarossa Winery, owned by two Santa Clara alumni: Rob ’86 and Diana ’88 Jensen. The couple, engineers who met at Santa Clara, turned their fascination with wine into a business in 1993, and moved their operations to the Novitiate site in 1997. Since 2003, they have leased related facilities from the Jesuits as well, including a tasting room and private event areas.
“I found out that engineering was not the end-all and be-all of life,’’ says Rob Jensen, whose company annually produces 30,000 cases of wine blended from grapes that the couple buys from independent vineyards.
It’s poetic—and fitting—that the early winery that helped launch the Jesuits in the region is now occupied by two devoted Santa Clara alumni who regularly give back through donations of wine and hosted events.
Testarossa is part of an estimated 100 wineries that were either founded or run at some point by Santa Clara alumni—a result of the region’s immigrant foundations, ideal climate for grapes and other produce, as well as wealthy tech workers who moved into the wine industry as encore careers.
“Santa Clara Valley, being one of the agricultural capitals of America, of course [had] wine grapes grown there,” says Lee Nordlund, a 1980 Santa Clara biology major who worked at numerous wineries before founding Napa-based Punch Vineyards, through which he now helps support University-related causes. “And the ranchers, where would they send their kids? Santa Clara was the university of choice.”
Among the many notable Bronco vintners and wineries:
- California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, ’89, who co-founded PlumpJack Winery in 1992 (PlumpJack is the nickname of Shakespeare’s recurring Falstaff character)
- Napa-based Michael Mondavi Family Estate, founded and run by alumni Michael Mondavi ’66 (co-founder with his father of the famed Robert Mondavi Winery, later bought by Constellation Brands); Michael’s wife, Isabel Mondavi ’67; son, Robert Mondavi, Jr. ’94; and daughter, Dina Mondavi ’98
- Fred Franzia ’65, the colorful owner of Charles Shaw—a.k.a. ‘Two Buck Chuck’ at Trader Joe’s—and dozens of other wine labels, most of which were purchased by his family-owned Bronco Wine Company. (Despite the wishful assumption on campus that the company was named after Santa Clara’s mascot, it is actually a contraction of “Brothers and Cousin,” after its founders.)
- Hartford Family Winery, co-founded by Donald Hartford ’82, J.D. and Jennifer Jackson Hartford, ’82, J.D., daughter of Kendall Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson
- The historic Sonoma Valley winery, Don Sebastiani & Sons, currently run by Santa Clara alum Donny Sebastiani ’92 (his brother, August Sebastiani ’02, oversees 3Badge Beverage Corp., a maker of wine, spirits and beer)
- Guglielmo Winery, the oldest continuously family owned and operated winery in the Santa Clara Valley, run by Gene Guglielmo ’71, and his two brothers with help from Gene’s two daughters
Celebrating the Legacy
In 1983, as part of a celebration of the University’s winemaking lineage, Santa Clara’s Alumni Association created Vintage Santa Clara. This now-annual event attracts thousands of alumni, family and friends, who partake in offerings from dozens of California winemakers—up to two-thirds of them alumni—as well as gourmet food vendors. Proceeds benefit the Alumni Family Scholarship program.
“Vintage has become an iconic event at Santa Clara, celebrating the alumni who have become successful in wine industry, and who donate their product for a good cause as an expression of their pride in [the University] and the community they love,” says Rachaella Giannotta, senior assistant director for events in the office of alumni relations.
In 2015, Santa Clara’s alumni office teamed up with a wine distribution company, VinoShipper (whose founder and CEO, Steven Harrison, is a Bronco dad), to produce and sell the Mission Wine Collection: private-labeled wines from wineries owned by alumni, parents and friends, all to benefit the Alumni Family Scholarship program. Recent selections included wines from alumni wineries Clos Du Val, Bargetto and Don & Sons.
For Guglielmo’s CEO, it’s no surprise that so many Santa Clara graduates are in the wine business—especially for families like his, where good wine and food are a traditional part of their Italian culture. “If you look at the family wineries in the wine industry in California, I would say there’s a pretty high percentage [run by people who] have gone to Santa Clara,’’ says Gene Guglielmo. He notes that in addition to rigorous studies, “a Jesuit university teaches you a way of life.”
Today, Guglielmo Winery produces about 40,000 cases of wine annually—including wine used at many of the Catholic parishes in Santa Clara Valley. “I call it Holy Wine,’’ quips the former Santa Clara football player, whose selection of premium varietals includes a new label called “Spirit of the Bronco.” Net proceeds of that label go to fund Santa Clara athletic programs.
Come commencement each June, Santa Clara grads, family and friends are all invited to raise a glass of Santa Clara bubbly. Guglielmo traditionally bottles some sparkling wine under the label of the graduating class—making the bottles truly treasured mementos.
By Molly Cochran, Communications Specialist, Loyola University Maryland
When Loyola University Maryland committed to investing in the communities to the east of its campus in Baltimore, University leaders didn’t assume they knew what changes were needed. Instead, they started by asking residents of the area’s neighborhoods to share their hopes and challenges.
That “Loyola Is Listening” project, a 2010 survey of the local community, brought many opportunities to the forefront, including one within walking distance from campus. Just minutes away, near York Road, was a food desert that needed better access to fresh, affordable produce. Community members indicated that they needed either a farmers’ market, a food store or a community garden in the area.
The following summer, in 2011, Loyola’s York Road Initiative (YRI) established the weekly Govanstowne Farmers’ Market in an effort to meet this community need. The market has grown every year since then, offering not only produce, but local artisans, free meals for children, and a lively place for neighbors to gather every Wednesday afternoon.
As welcome as the Govanstowne Farmers’ Market was, its success only made it clearer that community residents needed better access to fresh produce on a regular basis throughout the year. Residents—and the University—wanted to have a more sustainable and long-term solution to the lack of healthy food.
So, in 2015, FreshCrate was born. A year-round initiative, FreshCrate helps make fresh—and affordable—produce available in local corner stores along the York Road corridor. FreshCrate is a grant-funded program through the United Way of Central Maryland and is supported by the Govans Business Association, the York Road Initiative and Parkhurst Dining Services (Loyola’s dining service).
When store owners buy food from a supplier, an additional charge is typically applied for smaller orders. But through the FreshCrate program, Loyola acts as the middle man, supplying corner store owners with fresh produce at retail prices but at no additional charge for smaller orders. “This is how Loyola is pivotal in changing the food landscape in the community,” says Marie M. Anderson, ’11, assistant director of the York Road Initiative.
The FreshCrate program also partners with the GEDCO CARES food pantry to give customers coupons to use for produce at any participating corner stores. Over the past three years, more than $14,000 worth of fresh produce has been purchased through this partnership. Rachael Neill, program director of GEDCO CARES, has witnessed the positive impacts of FreshCrate and the coupon program along York Road. She says, “Our participants really look forward to the coupons, and they love that the stores are right in the neighborhood. When we don’t have the coupons [when funding is tight], they are asking for more.”
Raymond Stokley, a York Road resident for more than 20 years, always looks forward to using the coupons to purchase fruits and vegetables. He says, “I’ve lived here most of my life, and we have just started to have access to produce and coupons…I’m on a fixed income and I can’t afford a lot of things, so the coupons really help.”
Some of the corner store owners say that they are seeing a positive change in their businesses as well. Murray’s Family Food and Market, one of the participating FreshCrate corner stores located along York Road, has experienced an increase in produce sales due to FreshCrate. “There are no stores in the area with enough fresh fruit and vegetables to serve the community. With FreshCrate, there is a bigger variety of produce,” says Jamil Khawar, Murray’s store owner. “Often times people can’t afford it, so the coupons are good for this program. It has been good for my business.”
This past spring, the Baltimore City Health Department ran a grant-funded initiative to involve local youth and bring attention to FreshCrate. Through the program, five local high school students had the opportunity to educate the public on FreshCrate and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. They shared information on how to incorporate fresh produce into one’s diet and explained the benefits of healthy eating.
“I see a direct connection between poverty, health and diet,” says Neill, who has been the program director of GEDCO CARES for 12 years. “The impact of poor diet is rampant in low-income areas. Those who don’t have access to fresh food are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. Bringing fresh food into the neighborhood and making it more affordable is very important.”
Loyola’s work to address food security through FreshCrate and the Govanstowne Farmers’ Market recently earned the University the 2018 Mayor’s Business Recognition Award from the Greater Baltimore Committee. This annual award is given to companies who demonstrate leadership and promote community service to help improve Baltimore City.
“Through the York Road Initiative, Loyola has had the opportunity to partner with our closest neighbors in our city to strengthen those communities and Baltimore,” says Loyola’s president, Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., who accepted the award on behalf of the University. “I am grateful to all of our community partners who work alongside us to help make a difference in their neighborhoods and in so many individuals’ lives.”
By Tim Cigelske, Director of Integrated Content & Christopher Stolarski, Senior Communication Strategist, Marquette University
David Dupee decided to take a risk.
After he graduated from Marquette Law School in 2009, he and two entrepreneurial (and beer-loving) friends decided not just to put down roots in Milwaukee, but to double down and open a business.
They started by talking with local chef, Guy Davies, and brewing some beer with Andy Jones, a brewing industry veteran and graduate of the prestigious University of California–Davis Master Brewers Program.
After four pilot batches of an IPA recipe, it was time to make their move. Dupee and his partners invested in a vacant 11,000-square-foot building and in the summer of 2016, they opened Good City Brewing.
They called their first beer ‘Risk IPA.’
Dupee says, “The idea was, ‘Let’s take a chance on this thing, sign the bank guarantee and put our lives on the line. It was a risk on this business, but also on the city of Milwaukee.”
In short time, Good City Brewing has become a go-to venue for beer, food and entertainment.
Milwaukee’s craft breweries are cultivating the tastes of beer drinkers. Good City Brewing is just one with alumni ties to Marquette, located right in the heart of the city. Others within a walkable or bikeable distance from campus include City Lights Brewing, founded by Robin Gohsman; Gathering Place Brewing, founded by Joe Yeado; and Milwaukee Brewing Co., founded by Jim McCabe.
On the west side of town, City Lights Brewing embodies the transformation of Milwaukee’s physical spaces and evolving economy.
In 2014, Robin Gohsman scoped out a building that was previously home to the Milwaukee Gas Light Co., more than a century ago. Located south of campus, the building facilitated the coal gasification process that once lit Milwaukee’s street lamps. The long-ago abandoned building was filled with broken cinder blocks and birds nesting in the chimney. But in his mind’s eye, Gohsman saw a brewery.
He set to work repurposing the building’s original architectural elements. Reclaimed floorboards became handmade tables for the taproom. The original 1902 ceiling spans visible overhead. A recovered brown bottle from the now-defunct Obermann Beer Co. sits in the brewing space as a reminder of Milwaukee’s beer heritage. Even a crane from 1899 that was left in the building was used to position the new brewing tanks.
Just like the building, the beer is about the classics. The brewers purposely don’t give the beers names — opting instead to call each beer by its style and let the beer speak for itself. They can and distribute classic styles of amber ale, pale ale, IPA, double IPA, Mexican lager and, their most popular, a coconut porter.
Over the past 20 years, Milwaukee Brewing Co. has matured along with the craft beer market. In 1997, Jim McCabe opened the Ale House brew pub (which serves and even produces some of Milwaukee Brewing Co.’s beers) with Marquette roommate Mike Bieser. Back then, they often had to explain the unfamiliar flavors and serving temperature — “No, it’s not supposed to be ice cold” — to a town used to Pabst Blue Ribbon.
“When someone said they would prefer a domestic beer,” McCabe says, “I would point to the brewery 30 feet away and say, ‘It doesn’t get more domestic than that.’”
Since then, palates have caught up to the complex flavors of craft beer, and the brewery’s signature ‘Louie’s Demise Ale’ has remained the same recipe that McCabe first home-brewed in the 1990s.
The brewery grew as demand rose — and it keeps growing even today. McCabe recently scouted new properties to add to the company’s locations. He found the right spot in the former Pabst complex about a quarter mile from campus. Ultimately, the Pabst building made sense both historically and economically. Access to the freeway for distribution, continued development in the area and proximity to the Fiserv Forum, the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, make the location the perfect fit.
Joe Yeado spent his junior year studying abroad in Germany. He now speaks more German in his brewery’s taproom than he has in years. It’s no wonder that his upstart brewery, Gathering Place Brewing, which opened in the burgeoning Riverwest neighborhood in the summer of 2017, pays homage to Gemütlichkeit, the German sense of conviviality and comfort that has become one of Milwaukee’s adopted mottoes.
From its name to its social mission of donating one percent of quarterly sales to local nonprofit organizations, everything about Gathering Place Brewing is rooted in building a sense of community. “Beer can be something that brings people together,” Yeado says. “I knew I wanted a taproom that could be an extension of the community’s living room.”
The beer, though, is what draws people in.
Yeado, a 2007 and 2010 alumnus, started brewing beer after graduation. “The first beer I ever made was an IPA…it was not good,” he remembers. “But the more you do it, the better you get. After a few batches, I started sharing it with my friends. At first I thought they were just flattering me because they were drinking for free in my kitchen.”
Today, a full-time veteran brewmaster handles the production of Gathering Place’s offerings, which include a series of increasingly bold IPAs aptly titled ‘Friendly Debate,’ ‘Spirited Debate’ and ‘Heated Debate,’ respectively.
Meanwhile, Yeado manages the business and hauls barrels of suds around town in “Gus,” his Subaru Outback. His sales skills, he says, were picked up as a tour guide and later admissions counselor at Marquette. “I don’t walk backward anymore like I did when I led tours,” he says, “but I’m still selling.”
Besides their Marquette connection, the common theme linking all of these brewers is their pride in the heritage and future of Milwaukee. It’s reflected in their brands. Gohsman takes pride in opening a business where he grew up. For Yeado, building community in Milwaukee is as important as brewing great beer. McCabe loves seeing his employees plant roots in the city. Dupee points to how Good City Brewing has helped revitalize a corner of Milwaukee’s East Side neighborhood. “We’re very pro-city. We’re city residents, and we want to be an urban brewery and brand,” he says.
Dupee is proud of the banner that hangs in the taproom that boasts a first-place award in the Brewing News National Imperial IPA Competition. Good City brought that honor home in 2017 for its double IPA, a sequel beer to the Risk IPA.
The name of that beer? ‘The Reward.’ The risk paid off.
By Angeline Boyer, Assistant Director of Media Relations, Saint Peter’s University
“Water divides nations and wine unites them.”
This is a mantra that Anthony Verdoni (Saint Peter’s University ’64) has heard many times throughout his career in the wine industry, and a statement he values as he recognizes the power that food and wine have in bringing people together. Verdoni, who is known as “The Wine Professor” among friends in the trade, has immense passion for his work; however it was not his first career choice.
Verdoni graduated from Saint Peter’s University (then College) in 1964 with a Bachelor’s degree in classical civilization. It wasn’t long before he returned (in 1967) to serve as a member of the faculty in the classical languages and literature department for 20 years. He took great pleasure in teaching Latin and Greek at Saint Peter’s but unfortunately, as the years passed, the popularity of his field began to decline.
Some may believe there is not much you can do with a degree in classical civilization beyond teaching Latin. But this was not to be the case for Verdoni. For his second career, he used his knowledge of antiquity and familiarity with Italy to help establish himself as an Italian wine merchant and expert.
Verdoni began serving as a part-time wine steward at a local restaurant in 1971, while still teaching at Saint Peter’s. After retiring from the University, he decided to pursue this part-time interest as a full-time career and went on to purchase a wine store. He later became a wine buyer for two department store chains, and eventually became a sales manager for some of the nation’s largest wine distributors.
Through his work in the New Jersey wine industry, Verdoni became good friends with Victor Rallo, a wine critic and New Jersey restaurateur. Verdoni would give wine tastings in Rallo’s restaurants and the two would frequently travel to Italy to acquire recipes and try Italian wines. One of the tastings happened to draw the attention of a television producer, who came across some of the footage that Verdoni and Rallo shot on one of their trips, and thought the pair would be a great duo for a television program. And that is how the Emmy-nominated television series, “Eat! Drink! Italy! With Vic Rallo,” was born. The program premiered in 2013 and aired for three seasons on PBS in most major markets throughout the country. Verdoni has also co-authored a book with Rallo titled, 21 Wines.
Verdoni’s Jesuit, liberal arts education not only provided him with the background necessary to succeed in the wine industry, but it also gave him a deeper appreciation for how the wines are produced. He recently led a class, titled Wine and Spirituality, in which he discussed the movement to make wine as naturally as possible. During the class, Verdoni discussed a winery he found in Sardinia that maximizes this practice. The winery is run by Stefano Casadei, a friend whom Verdoni met at a conference on organic and biodynamic farming. Casadei uses only natural farming techniques such as plows drawn by cattle and geese to prune the vines. Verdoni has a respect for this technique as the process is being done in connection with the will of God.
A Jesuit education is also a common connection among Verdoni’s colleagues and friends, and he appreciates how local wines and foods can bring them together. He explains, “While they are not all Jesuit educated, many of them are and many have studied classical languages. There is always a feeling of community even when you are tasting the wines of your competitors.”
Today, Verdoni gives about 100 wine tastings per year, and maintains a strong connection to Saint Peter’s. How strong? At his 50th reunion in 2014, he delighted his friends and former classmates with, you guessed it: their very own wine tasting. Cheers!
By Kate Vanskike-Bunch, Senior Editor, Gonzaga University
According to a Zen koan (riddle), a young monk asked his teacher for the key to enlightenment. The master said, “Did you eat? Then wash your bowl.”
While there are variations on this story and its interpretation, what lingers is the notion of gratitude. Did I just eat? Washing my bowl should be an act of thankfulness for the meal I just enjoyed.
In a recent feature in Gonzaga Magazine (the primary publication of Gonzaga University), students and faculty members highlighted the many ways we can show appreciation for our bounty. Here, we are happy to share a few that rise to the top of the menu: considering the realities of food scarcity; ethical eating; and understanding the power of a meal to create community.
The Empty Cupboard
Eating three times a day is an act that many of us take for granted. Perhaps we remember to offer thanks before partaking. Maybe we give great thought to what we’ll prepare for the next meal. Once in a while, we take extra care to follow a special recipe and at other times, it’s more enjoyable to eat out and try a tasty new concoction.
So many options. And yet, more than 12 million children in America struggle with hunger. In an average month, 44.2 million people participate in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), two-thirds of whom are children, elderly or disabled.
In years past, food issues concerning college students tended to focus on eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. While those illnesses remain very real, a new trend has emerged as a serious topic of concern in higher education: food insecurity, the gripping fear of not having enough to eat.
As a result, more college campuses are launching food pantries to serve students, many of whom also qualify for Federal financial aid programs and/or hold down jobs while in school. Even those who live on campus can find themselves in situations where three meals a day seems a luxury.
According to Jim White, Dean of Student Financial Services at Gonzaga, the expense of room and board can be a challenge for families, especially when a meal plan is required for freshmen and sophomores. Occasionally, students will request for assistance with their food expenses; the University and its food services partner, Sodexo, help them by finding funding and solutions. White says, “When students get stressed financially, usually one of the first things they try to do is drop their meal plan or try to identify a cheaper alternative.”
Upon reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle as a seventh-grader, Ellen Maccarone, associate professor of philosophy, was moved to live life for a while as a vegetarian. It was the beginning of her understanding that what we choose in our everyday lives can reflect our deeply held values.
Maccarone teaches a philosophy class in which students cook from scratch and take field trips to local coffee roasters and food co-ops, all with the intent of encouraging participants to reflect on what they consume. She suggests that that can be achieved through intentional thought about our consumer values, acknowledging the human factor of food production, and giving consideration to animals. She says, “It’s about living our values through what we eat – using [them] as motivators.We need to make choices that tell businesses what our values are.”
Maccarone is a fan of writing letters to companies, but acknowledges that there are other ways to use the power of purchase. For example, goodguide.com shows how brands measure up, and mobile apps such as Buycott allow you to scan a product’s barcode to learn whether your personal values are upheld with that selection.
The Certified Fair Trade logo seen on many products in stores across America is an indicator of companies that embrace fair-trade practices, such as paying a living wage to employees. While it’s nearly impossible to ensure that all of our food is fair-trade certified, there are a few purchases we can make that have a big impact: Coffee, sugar and chocolate. Maccarone explains that these products are made in equatorial regions where people are more likely to face exploitation. Because we consume so many of these items, buying them fair-trade sends a clear message of our consumer values.
Another element of intentionality in food choices is evaluating the consumption of meat. While there has been a rise in the quality and availability of vegetarian and vegan options for meals, many people can’t imagine life without meat. Maccarone suggests thoughtfully considering how animals are raised: Are they free-range or caged? Are they grain-fed in factory farm warehouses? Do they endure abysmal conditions? “Visiting local farms is a great way to see for yourself whether eating animals aligns with your personal values,” she says.
Gonzaga’s alumni chaplain, Rev. Stephen Hess, S.J., recalls the impact that a warm meal had on a group of people impacted by a 2008 winter storm in Spokane, WA. Affectionately called “Snowmaggedon,” it left the city nearly paralyzed.
For Gonzaga students, it was finals week. The disruption of exams could have been celebrated as a gift from God if only they could have escaped for their winter break destinations; instead, hundreds of students were stranded. Limited numbers of faculty and staff were able to drive to campus. Those on hand worked together to manage the chaos, which included figuring out how to feed students as the food supply was depleted.
Fr. Hess recalls, “It so happened that the semi-formal holiday party for faculty and staff was scheduled for that Friday evening. The grand party would have had spectacular decorations and fine foods representing many nationalities – which soon became the only food on hand to feed students.”
And thus, an unusual feast took place among stranded students and staff in a cafeteria transformed by elaborate party décor. “They were in awe,” says Fr. Hess. “Students took pictures of the food to send to their parents. One student started crying and said, ‘There is a God!’”
If the food, decorations and happiness of the students were not enough, something far more spectacular happened that evening. Students and staff dined together and enjoyed each other’s company. People who had been stressed now shared in an experience, a communion of spirits where new relationships were built.
Fr. Hess recalls, “God became very visible to a community that was in need of hope.”
These stories come from the Spring 2017 issue of Gonzaga Magazine. You can read more at gonzaga.edu/tabletalk.
By Joseph Wakelee-Lynch, Editor of LMU Magazine, Loyola Marymount University
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) alumnus Carlos Soto is the founder and CEO of Nosotros Tequila, a 100 percent agave tequila produced in Tequila, Mexico.
Soto earned his Bachelor’s degree from LMU’s College of Business Administration in 2016. What began as an idea sparked by a senior-year class assignment eventually developed into a start-up company. Since then, Nosotros Tequila – built around the concept of bringing people together – has grabbed headlines, earning attention from Forbes and KABC-TV. Soto discusses his journey in this Q&A, previously published in LMU Magazine.
JW-L: How did Nosotros start?
CS: The premise started in a business class during my senior year. The assignment was to come up with a business idea in three days that had nothing to do with technology. I went out that night, had a few tequilas and got to thinking: “I did this tonight, so how many other people in L.A. went out today? There has to be money in this.”
A few months later, I took two weeks out of school, went to Guadalajara in Mexico, visited a couple of distilleries and brought some samples back. At that point, I asked Michael Arbanas ’17, also a business major, to be CFO of the company. We developed some formulas and had a few tastings with alumni to see which was better. There was one clear winner. Then I applied for trademarks. By graduation, I had everything in line, but no product. I had to make a decision: Am I going to put everything into this or am I just going to forget about it? So, I went to Bank of America and took out a loan. Here I am, two years later, and still working.
What was the hardest thing about the first few months?
Staying motivated. I went to 14 outlets before I got my first account; my first yes. It’s about persistence. I took out a lot of loans and maxed out a couple of credit cards. There were a lot of ups and downs but I feel that I learned more [through that experience] than I would have in 30 years in an investment banking position. The coolest thing about doing your own thing is you get out of it what you put into it. If you don’t put everything into it, you’re going to crash. If you do put everything into it, you get a lot back from it. It’s very fulfilling.
Are you aiming at the U.S. market or the Mexican market, or both?
For now, the U.S. market. The United States is the number 1 consumer of tequila in the world. One-fifth of that market is in California. Of the California market, one out of every four bottles is sold in Los Angeles. So, we are at the heart of the tequila market in the United States.
What are your thoughts about competition?
I’m not too worried about competition. There are barriers to entry to the market, so I’m not going to have a distillery with more money pop up next to me. Thankfully, my first language is Spanish, which makes things easier.
Do tensions in the U.S.-Mexico relationship have an impact on your business?
Definitely. The current U.S. administration has spoken about putting tariffs on Mexican products, everything from avocados to appliances. At the same time, if there is a tariff, everyone in the industry will feel it. The person who is going to be hindered is the consumer, because the producers are going to pass the cost along to the final consumer.
What’s the most helpful lesson you’d offer other potential entrepreneurs outside of the tequila market?
First, make sure that there is a market. If there is a market, it’s easier to find your specific niche. Second, the product is very important: Understand what you’re going to do and the quality of the product. Know your value proposition. You won’t be able to sell something that you don’t understand yourself. And, third [until you reach success], be ready to eat crap.
Drinking is a social experience. Nosotros is about bringing people together, creating experiences. The full name is La Historia de Nosotros, the story of us. Nosotros Tequila is about bringing people together and creating experiences and stories.
Why the worm?
What worm? There’s no worm. That’s an American myth. Someone started doing it in Mexico, and it was a great hit in America. There’s no need to put a worm in tequila. That’s a marketing ploy.
By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU
Resolving the Government Shutdown Through DACA?
Newly-elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), met with President Trump during the second week of January to negotiate a resolution to end the shutdown of the Federal government. Unfortunately, that was not successful and now one quarter of the government remains closed. Federal employees and contractors are now in the second month of furloughs and have not been paid since December.
Extending the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has recently become part of the discussions on ways to end the shutdown. Over the weekend, President Trump offered a three-year extension of DACA in exchange for $5.7 billion to fund a wall that would separate Mexico from the United States at the Southern border. This proposal was rejected by the Democrats, who do not support building a wall and do not want to minimize DACA regulations to a three-year temporary extension. House Democrats want the Federal government to open first, and then engage in debate on border security. It would be of comfort to the nation’s Dreamers to have some resolution; AJCU will continue to work on extending DACA protections for them.
On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will offer President Trump’s proposal for consideration. Seven Democratic Senators will be needed to pass the bill on the Senate Floor. On the House side, members are working on separate appropriations bills to fund the departments and agencies that are currently shut down. It remains to be seen if any of these efforts will be successful. Regular business for Congress (including consideration of the budget for FY20 and hearings in both chambers), remains halted due to the government shutdown.
Jesuit Alumni in the 116th U.S. Congress
Ten percent of the 116th U.S. Congress are alumni of Jesuit colleges and universities; this is the same percentage as it was in the 115th U.S. Congress. Seven new members were elected this past November: Representatives Gil Cisneros (D-CA, M.B.A. Regis University, 2002); Greg Pence (R-IN, B.A. Loyola University Chicago, 1979; M.B.A. Loyola University Chicago, 1983); Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ, J.D. Georgetown University, 2007); Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM, B.A. Georgetown University, 2007); Greg Stanton (D-AZ, B.A. Marquette University, 1992); Bryan Steil (R-WI, B.S. Georgetown University, 2003); and Lori Trahan (D-MA, B.A. Georgetown University, 1995).
Two Jesuit alumni will head powerful House Committees: Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), a Boston College alumnus, will chair the House Education and Labor Committee, and Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), a Fordham alumnus, will chair the House Judiciary Committee. For further information on Jesuit alumni in the 116th U.S. Congress, please click here.
Remembering Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J.
Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J., who passed away on January 4, will always be remembered as the consummate politician who loved working with members of Congress and the various Administrations to secure access for poor students to attend college. His happy, gregarious smile was infectious. He spoke at many a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol to raise awareness of the need for Pell grant funding. He believed that Jesuit institutions could lead the effort in distance education; we did just that through the creation of JesuitNET, the Jesuit distance education network. Fr. Currie’s tireless efforts were always an inspiration. How lucky we all were to have had him in our lives at AJCU.