Congratulations to the winner of the 2011 Robert W. Hiller Scholarship, a national scholarship established through the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA).  This year marks the seventh year the award has been given to a student studying in the area of baking/pastry arts. 

This year’s recipient is Kristen Kawecki from Charlotte, NC.  Kawecki is a student at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte.  She was one of four finalists for the award.  The other finalists were Kristen Seck, Springfield, Ill.; Celine DeMaesschalck, Foxborough, Mass.; and Aiyana Kyle, Carmichael, Calif.

In her essay for the scholarship, Kawecki said she has been cooking as long as she can remember.  While she still loves to cook, her passion in baking has emerged through the years.  She said she was in ninth grade when she realized she wanted to be a pastry chef.

“I was very thrilled when I heard the news,” Kawecki said, in regards to the phone call she received from WBA Executive Director Dave Schmidt to tell her she had been chosen for the scholarship.

Kawecki enters her third year at Johnson and Wales this fall.  She will graduate with the class of 2013 with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, along with Food Service Management. 

Two WBA board members serve on the Education Committee for the scholarship.  Ken Heil of Sweet Perfections Bake Shoppe in Waukesha, Wis., and Joe Crubaugh of Fosdal’s Home Bakery in Stoughton, Wis. picked Kawecki as this year’s winner.

The Robert W. Hiller Scholarship Fund was established to support and encourage people who have demonstrated a passion for a profession in the baking/pastry arts field.  A $1,000 scholarship is awarded per academic year to the applicant who can best demonstrate this career commitment. 

The Robert W. Hiller Scholarship Fund was established on Nov. 5, 2000, by the members of the WBA in honor of Robert (Bob) and the late Sandy Hiller’s life long commitment to the retail baking industry.  The program intends to provide a financial resource for the education of students who will be the future of the baking industry.

“As we continue to receive strong applicants for the award year after year, the education committee has a tough time deciding on a winner,” Schmidt said.  “We are amazed at how focused the candidates are on their future career goals.”

In addition to the Robert W. Hiller Scholarship, the WBA has the WBA Scholarship available.  The Wisconsin Bakers Association’s education committee submitted recommendations to the Board of Governors on Oct. 24, 1983, to implement the WBA Scholarship Program.  The first scholarship awards were later presented in 1984.  Since then, the WBA has awarded more than $25,000 in WBA Scholarships.  This award is available to Wisconsin students.  

The WBA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping members increase their baking and business knowledge, fostering the education of future bakers, keeping members informed about developments in the baking industry and legislative matters affecting them, and representing members’ interests at the state and federal government levels.  Organized in 1905, the WBA is made up of retail and wholesale bakeries; multi-unit operators; supermarket bakeries; specialty shops; bakery suppliers; college bakery programs; manufacturers and associate members.  There is also a student membership category.  Visit or for more information.  The WBA Member Services Center is located at 2514 S. 102nd St., Suite 100, West Allis, WI.