Scholarship to run on tequila

Elac professor plans to fund scholarship with his tequila company

GRANDPAS LOT—Madrigal’s farm in Ixtlan Del Rio Nayarit has 20,000 plants, enough to produce 75,000 liters of tequila. Photos courtesy of Gerardo Madrigal

By Trissean McDonald

Academic pathways toward success get rather pricey. However, what if some of those expenses were paid for with tequila? Gerardo Madrigal, a statistics professor at East Los Angeles College, has a plan to create his very own tequila and use a percentage of the revenue to sponsor a scholarship for ELAC students.

Tequila grant money sounds a bit far fetched. but, Madrigal has an agave farm in which he envisions creating the beverage. He even chooses to share his hard work’s profit with students who have stuggled to bring about success.
Anahy Vilchis, a student majoring in biochemistry, thinks that the scholarship is a great resource for students.
“It would give us more resources in order to prosper. A lot of us students start here with the intent of wanting to continue on. So that would be really good,” Vilchis said.

Professor Madrigal said the design of the tequila bottle could take nearly six months for completion. Therefore, at the moment, it is unclear as to when the scholarship will be funded.

A Linkedin article by Madrigal details the company’s plans as well as its history. The name of his brand is Tequila AMAN. Certified by the Agricert México, the tequila is 100 percent USDA organic Agave Azul.
Tequila AMAN’s mission is to educate the public by displaying how the company “affirms” to the soil by dedicating their farming method to soil-carbon sequestration, which captures carbon dioxide in soil.
The name AMAN means “to affirm,” according to the Linkedin article “Tequila AMAN: The First and Only Organic Tequila Dedicated to The United Nations Climate Action Sustainability Goal #13.”

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It is a method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change.

Madrigal said he has been fascinated with the idea of creating his very own tequila since the age of 10. “My family could never afford growing it. I told myself I would own my own someday,” Professor Madrigal said.
His father, who was a minimum wage blue collar worker, would save money in order to take his family to Nayarit, México.

When Madrigal’s father finally managed to save enough money, he decided to take his family on the anticipated trip.

“When we landed in Guadalajara on the way to Ixtlán Del Rio, Nayarit, [we passed] the “paisaje agavero” (Spanish for agave landscape) -millions of hectares filled with blue agave,” Madrigal said. “I remember being fascinated with those plants. I’m not sure (if) it’s because I’m an earth sign and love to invoke a deep connection [with] the earth.”

Tequila AMAN collaborates with research scientists to document their progress with sequestering carbon into their soil. “I’ve done my homework. I don’t trust distilling companies because they steal ideas,” Madrigal said. He continued saying, “In the time of scarcity, distilling companies are stealing ideas. I have to make my own tequila.”
Some regenerative organic agriculture methods that the company practices are composting, ground mulching and crop rotation. These methods assist in restoring the health and livelihood of degraded soils for abundant harvests.
His father is battling with cancer. However, “if it wasn’t for his foundation, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Professor Madrigal said.

The scholarship won’t be available for approximately three years. Madrigal would rather have it be sooner. “The bottle is still being created. My goal is within a year. It’s kind of out of my control at the moment,” he said.
The scholarship grants could range from $100 or more. However, Madrigal said that he can’confirm the time frame or even have an idea of the exact amount of money.

For students who are bilingual, however, Madrigal said that the scholarship opportunity could possibly be raised.
Madrigal said, “I can’t really say until I have a financial idea.” Half of the scholarship funds would come from the professor’s own pocket. The other half would be governmentally funded. “Student loan debt continues to rise. The cost of going to college continues to climb, and more and more students dropout of college because of long work hours, “Why not help mitigate this issue? My products will be Fair Trade, a global movement to alleviate poverty in ways that are economical, socially and environmentally sustainable.”

The professor understands that some staff, as well as students, will be disturbed by the fact that the scholarship comes from the profits of a tequila company.

Maria Macias, a student majoring in communication, is ambivalent. She thinks that the scholarship is both a good and bad idea. “It’s a good idea because it’s helping another student continue to keep going to school.
You know, they probably have financial problems. The fact that he’s trying to help another student, I think that speaks more than where it’s coming from,” Macias said. “I don’t think it’s bad that its from a tequila company. He’s using that money for good. It’s not all necessarily bad,” she said.

Madrigal said, “I respect their beliefs. This is more than just another brand. It’s the culture, heritage, and people.” He said, “The product is not illegal and The brand will not only be tequila. I will be selling agave plants, organic agave syrup, and agave inulin. This brand is about the relationship with my farmers, agriculture, and preservation of our ecosystem.”

“Hard work puts you where good luck can find you,” Madrigal said. For more information on the company should visit Professor Madrigal’s Instagram page @Tequila_aman.

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