In light of Women's History Month, Perfumer & Flavorist+ (P&F+) wanted to shine a light on the Women in Flavor and Fragrance Commerce Inc.'s (WFFC) scholarship program. Consisting of three scholarship opportunities—the WFFC Rita Flynn Memorial Fragrance Scholarship, WFFC Flavor Scholarship and the WFFC She Works Scholarship—the programs echo the mission of the WFFC: to educate, engage and empower.
P&F+ connected with Cathianne Leonardi, flavorist at Coca-Cola and WFFC New Jersey Board of Directors member as well as Megan Nolan, flavorist at ADM and former WFFC board member, to discuss the impact of the scholarship program.
P&F+: When was the scholarship program started?
Cathianne Leonardi [CL]: The WFFC Scholarship program was the idea of past board member Kay Bardsley Murano, Ph.D., and flavorist at IFF. As an academically accomplished person, [Murano] believed in the empowerment of pursuing educational experiences. In her wisdom, she linked the WFFC's mission to educate, engage and empower people by providing access to financial means of support.
Megan Nolan [MN]: At the core of the WFFC exists a comradery amongst members. Though varied in backgrounds and career experiences, WFFC members share a common goal towards education, empowerment and engagement in the flavor and fragrance industry. The scholarship program offers financial assistance while increasing student engagement within the industry. The complimentary one-year WFFC membership provides access to a wide network of industry associates and educational events. Students pursuing career paths in the F&F industry have the ability to make real connections.
P&F+: Can you touch on the scholarship's mission?
CL: The mission of the scholarship is consistent with the mission of the WFFC: to educate, engage and empower.
As the education part of the scholarship program seems self-explanatory, let's focus on a couple of ways the scholarship program empowers and engages.
Consider the following situations that affect women:
Remuneration for women has yet to reach 100% when compared to that for men in the United States of America.
While the gender-based wage gap has narrowed over time, financial abuse holds women in a place they may not choose for themselves.
Providing financial means to people who may be experiencing these issues or others helps achieve access to an academic degree or professional certificate that may set the stage for career advancement and pathways to financial freedom. On how the program creates engagement, it introduces the awardees to the WFFC community and offers all awardees and applicants a year of WFFC membership without charge.
P&F+: How has the program evolved since it’s been founded?
CL: The scholarship program consists of three opportunities, the Rita Flynn Memorial Fragrance Scholarship, The Flavor Scholarship and the She Works Scholarship, each of which offer $3000 of financial support.
The program started with the first two scholarships for which full-time students would most often apply. To encourage people already engaged in the flavor and fragrance industry we created the She Works Scholarship which specifies that one must be employed while simultaneously pursuing academic degrees or certificates.
MN: In 2020, the WFFC was able to expand academic financial support to include a third scholarship, the WFFC She Works Scholarship.
While all three scholarships are available to industry employees, the She Works Scholarship has the intended goal to offer financial support specifically aimed toward those actively employed in the F&F industry while simultaneously pursuing academic advancement.
P&F+: Can you touch on the process from the applicants to the awarding of the scholarship?
CL: The WFFC's Scholarship Committee consists of members who dedicate their time and attention creating awareness by communicating the scholarship availability, reviewing the applications and selecting the awardees.
If their schedules allow for attendance the awardees receive the funds at the WFFC's Annual Meeting held in January every year. When they are unavailable to attend in person, the funds are dispersed via mail.
We often wish there were funds for all the applicants to be awarded a scholarship.
P&F+: Can you share any of the journeys from past recipients and what they’re up to now?
CL: Many of the scholarship awardees are outstanding in their accomplishment and one that comes to mind is Keta-Burke Williams, co-founder of Aspen Apothecary. Her entrepreneurial spirit came to life on her application and she continues to launch fragrance brands today.
MN: I would love for recipients to have the opportunity to share their career and academic updates since applying for and receiving the WFFC scholarships. It would be beneficial for future applicants and donors to feel connected to and engaged with past recipients.
P&F+: Any plans to update the program? How can the F&F get involved to support?
CL: As mentioned earlier, we would love to be able to award scholarships to all the applicants. Become a member, sponsor, or donor of the WFFC and help us share the love.
MN: The WFFC and F&F industry are constantly evolving. Prior to 2020, the She Works Scholarship was just an idea. The scholarship program will continue to develop through industry and member support. Encourage colleagues, interns and friends to become members and apply.