Recipients of 1966 Firestone Scholarship Reflect on Blessings

By Roza Panos

Quincy University’s Ann Behrens, vice president of academic affairs, and Robert Dittmer, lecturer in math, were awarded the Firestone Scholarship for their outstanding academic achievement in 1966.

The Firestone Scholarship was developed by the Firestone Foundation. The scholarship was only available for children of Firestone employees. This prestigious award gave students a full ride to college. Only 33 students had received the scholarship nationwide.

“I would hope that Firestone invested their money wisely and that we’ve made good on (the) faith that they had in us. It was a big deal,” Behrens said.

Behrens was only 16 when she received her certification letter, which said that she had qualified for the scholarship. She and Dittmer both came from middle-class families and feel that the Firestone Scholarship had a meaningful impact on their lives.

“Education is geared to the path of success,” Dittmer said.

Dittmer and Behrens felt that they worked very hard for this accomplishment and that they did their part while working and going to school full-time. Behrens feels that her and Dittmer’s career and career paths have come full circle 50 years later.

Associate Professor of Communication Barbara Schleppenbach feels that Behrens and Dittmer’s stories exemplify what talented young people can achieve by winning substantial scholarships.

We’re in that season when students learn about the awards they have received and the financial assistance they will be able to depend on,” Schleppenbach said.

She also feels that it’s worth remembering corporate foundations, like Firestone,  are generous in their support because they want to reward and also inspire the recipients.

Behrens and Dittmer feel truly blessed for the advantages that they received growing up and hope that students who receive opportunities such as theirs will contribute to their professions in important ways someday.  

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