Texas Tech University

December Grad Ready to Uncork Wine Industry Career

December 11, 2023

Casey Short is well-equipped for the next phase of life.

When first-generation student Casey Short graduates from Texas Tech University in December, the Texas Hill Country better be ready. Casey will be on a mission to promote the region's award-winning wines and its burgeoning wine industry. 

She will be armed with her diploma, extra certifications and knowledge earned and learned from obtaining her degree in University Studies through Texas Tech's Hill Country regional sites in Fredericksburg and Highland Lakes

Being a wife, a mother of two and a student, Casey is well-versed in managing multiple challenges at once. In fact, it was beating the odds earlier in her life that gave her the gumption to get through the rigors of college.

Casey was in foster care for six years. When she was 8, she and her four siblings were adopted through Child Protective Services by a single mom who already had four children of her own. This put Casey nearly in the middle of five older and three younger siblings, and a mix of five brothers and three sisters. The situation has come full circle, as now her mom lives with Casey and her family. 

Casey takes a selfie of herself inside her car.
Casey Short

“Without her adopting me, my life would not have turned out the way it has, and I would not be the wife, mom and soon-to-be graduate that I am,” Casey said.

Being adopted into a loving home didn't solve all of Casey's early challenges. From her teens into her 20s, she struggled with two heart conditions: IST (Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia) and SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia). IST is characterized by a heart rate inexplicably higher than 100 beats per minute at rest that is associated with symptoms like palpitations or dizziness. SVT is an irregularly fast or erratic heartbeat, or arrhythmia, that affects the heart's upper chambers. 

“These conditions worsened with both of my pregnancies and resulted in a heart procedure in September 2020, just as the fall semester started, but it hasn't kept me from finishing my degree,” Casey said.

But the story is getting ahead of itself. 

Casey's husband Steven, also a first-gen student and an Air Force veteran, started work on his degree in 2015 at Texas Tech's two regional sites in the Hill Country and through Texas Tech's Military & Veterans Program, after his honorable discharge from the military in 2013.  

Steven and Casey ShortSteven Short in his cap and gown.
Steven and Casey Short

While completing his University Studies degree in less than three years and graduating in May 2017, Casey had been observing his success and getting to know the people at the regional site in Fredericksburg. With encouragement from Steven, her mom, and the academic adviser for those sites, Casey decided to pursue her own education.

That adviser is Anne Arnecke.  

To say that Anne has been simply a part of their educational journeys is dramatically understated. Anne has watched their children grow as the couple has been in and out of the school for advising. She has helped them navigate through some of their challenges over the years. 

“Steven was one of the first students I advised. They had two children during this time, and I felt like I was part of the family,” Anne said. “Casey is super creative and determined, and she has stayed strong with medical issues and the stress from school, family and work. She has a unique story and I have been blessed to know her.”

Casey added that as a non-traditional student there were times she needed a flexible schedule, or an understanding ear, and Anne was always willing to be there, answer any questions she could and find answers if she didn't already know them. 

“I am a busy mom of two little ones who have always been loved on by Anne and the other friendly and understanding staff at Texas Tech,” Casey beamed.

Casey and her two children

Not only did Casey become familiar with the people at the regional site, but she learned about the degree and program offerings as well. One of those is the Wine Marketing Institute, which sparked her interest and inspired her concentration choices. A University Studies degree comprises three areas of focus rather than a major and minor. Casey's concentrations are media strategies, organizational leadership and RHIM - Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management

And then there are the academic honors. 

Casey is a member of three honor societies at Texas Tech: The National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Lambda and Phi Kappa Phi. 

“I was invited to Phi Kappa Phi as a junior, putting me in the top 7.5% of students at Texas Tech,” Casey said. “I have received my honors letter from Texas Tech, so I am anticipating graduating Magna Cum Laude and will get my honor cords once we get to Lubbock. I also am getting my recognition packet from the first-generation program.”

Aside from making it to graduation with honors, Casey's current goal is to work freelance with wineries and vineyards to increase their online presence and reach new demographics such as millennials and Gen Zers. She is passionate about wine and loves learning all about it: its history, its characteristics, how to pair it with all sorts of things, and the how and why of it all.

Casey at Barons Creek Vineyards in Fredricksburg, TX

To that end, Casey has taken advantage of other opportunities available at Texas Tech's Hill Country sites by earning wine certifications through Texas Tech's partnership with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET®),the world's leading provider of wine qualifications. WSET courses are designed to inspire and empower anyone looking to develop their wine knowledge, from beginners to experts, enthusiasts to professionals.

“At this time, I hold two certificates, the WSET Level 1 and Level 2. I plan to obtain my Level 3 once I graduate,” Casey explained. “It isn't currently offered at Texas Tech, so I will need to take it online eventually.” 

But there was one other interest she mentioned in addition to wine when talking about her future freelancing possibilities.

“I would love to work with local coffee shops as well,” she said, “because as a mom and student - good coffee is life.”

Working through Texas Tech's regional sites, Casey has become just as passionate about the university as she is about her future career. Along with hyping the area's wine industry, she intends to spread the word about the convenience and flexibility of obtaining a degree through the regional sites. She highly recommends students give them a look if they want to further their education but not leave the area.

Casey in her commencement gown from the front. Casey puts on her mortar board as she walks away.

“If you are considering a Texas Tech regional site, go for it,” she said. “Find a program that will inspire you. Trust your adviser but be open. They can't help if you don't let them.

“Our lives and family are here in the Hill Country, so the ability to take remote classes and attend in person when needed at the nearest campus was vital to finishing my degree." 

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