A lack of a university degree caused Maricela Carrillo de Olivares (’19 HBM) to lose her job a few years ago.
She was a case worker and ended up getting laid off because she didn’t have her bachelor’s degree.
“It was pretty rough,” she says. “But it ended up being the event that changed the future of my career for the better.”
She decided to go back to school, first earning an associate’s degree from Central Community College in Oregon before transferring to a university in Oregon. But after a few seasons in the snow, and after realizing she wasn’t getting what she wanted out of her education, she decided to look into Washington State University Tri-Cities.
WSU Tri-Cities, she says, would allow her to continue with her business programming and have ample access to scholarships.
Finding a Dream Career
Initially, she was thinking of studying accounting, but after talking with professors and mentors Byron Marlowe and Robert Harrington, Carrillo de Olivares decided to pursue a degree in wine and beverage business management at WSU Tri-Cities.
The major ended up being a perfect fit for Carrillo de Olivares to combine her love for accounting, working with people, and wine and become a highly employable candidate for an assortment of wine business fields.
Throughout the past three years, she led the WSU Tri-Cities student wine club, which connects individuals of age with sensory experiences, business tactics in the wine field, and more.
Since 2018, Carrillo de Olivares has worked at Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard, providing customers with extensive history and instruction about the tasting attributes of wine. Prior to that, she worked for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Prosser.
She also used her expertise in business, hospitality, and wine business to work with business professors to host elaborate WSU experiences and events ranging from the Point to Success Brunch benefiting the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business, to an elegant wine pairing meal at Terra Blanca Winery, to a celebratory dinner in Pullman.
“The opportunities here, combined with the one-on-one interaction with faculty and the small class sizes at WSU Tri-Cities, have been so rewarding,” she says. “It makes for a wonderful academic experience.”
Benefitting From a Scholarship
As a result of her hard work at WSU Tri-Cities, Carrillo de Olivares received the Southern Wine and Spirits Business $10,000 scholarship that would cover most of the cost of her tuition this year.
“As a single mom, it has been a lot of help financially,” she says gratefully. “I didn’t have to struggle financially, or get more loans. It has allowed me to free up other opportunities to spend on my school work and kids.”
As a next step, Carrillo de Olivares hopes to lead a wine business of some kind, and bring the business to the next level.
“Education-wise, my goal is to earn a master’s in marketing and learn even more about promoting wines. You’re never too old to pursue your dreams.”