Dunwoody Alumni Association President Chris Swingley with 2012 Student Leadership Award winner Robert “Bobby” Weckwerth.
To say Robert “Bobby” Weckwerth, 50, of Ham Lake, is a leader is an understatement.
In addition to receiving various honors during his 25 years in the military—retiring a Master Sergeant, being a volunteer fireman for more than 17 years and working as a commercial carpenter for the past 24 years, on July 25 Weckwerth received the Student Leadership Award from Dunwoody College of Technology’s Alumni Board of Managers.
“The Student Leadership Award was developed in 2004 by the Alumni Board of Managers to honor the most outstanding students that this school has to offer,” said Alumni Association President Chris Swingley. “To date, 21 students have received this award. Typically the faculty and staff present the Board Leadership Committee with the nominations each year. The students must have a GPA of 3.5 or better, show exemplary leadership skills and have outstanding Dunwoody school spirit.”
Weckwerth has all of those qualities, Swingley said at the Board of Managers quarterly meeting where he presented the award to Weckwerth.
Weckwerth said he pursued an education at Dunwoody because of its location, small class sizes, rich history and great reputation. He received a degree in Construction Supervision & Project Management last June.
“I’ve heard people call Dunwoody the Harvard of technical colleges,” he said. “That says something about its reputation. They’re the front. They’re leading edge in everything they do and I think they work really hard to do that.”
Weckwerth said there was a bit of a learning curve going into college. After not setting foot in a classroom for more than 20 years he needed to relearn how to type, take notes and study.
“I was scared at first,” he said. “It’d been so long. I graduated from high school in 1980 and here it was 2010 and I was going back to college.”
Instructor James Strapko encouraged him to get involved in extracurricular activities at Dunwoody, which he did.
In addition to meeting people and networking, Weckwerth thought getting involved on campus would look positive to potential employers.
“There are a lot of companies out there that want to see people that aren’t going to do just the bare minimum,” he said. “You show up to an interview and you have all these extracurriculars on your resume, and another person shows up and they have just whatever they accomplished in the classroom, it tells you something.”
Weckwerth got involved in a variety of clubs on campus. He was named President of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and of the student chapter of the Association of General Contractors (AGC), he was also a member of Historic Green, Nation Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Construction Specifications Institute (CSI).
Once he got involved in clubs on campus, he recruited his classmates to join, too.
In addition to participating in various activities and fundraisers, Weckwerth led PTK from a three-star rated chapter to a five-star rating from the national organization. Officer positions in PTK increased from three to 11 by the end of the 2011-12 academic year, and Weckwerth hopes the number of participants will continue to grow.
While being involved in extracurriculars consumed a lot of Weckwerth’s time, he said it was worth it for the teamwork and companionship as well as the good feeling of helping others.
“I like to help people. And I hope it helps develop people who help people, too,” he said. Though he learned a lot about leadership in the military, Weckwerth said, “I didn’t want to be a dictator, because in my mind we were all developing leadership skills. I tried share what I’ve learned throughout the years. I was really fond of my classmates and I wanted to see them succeed.”
Weckwerth said over the course of two years he became close with his fellow club members and classmates.
“It’s almost like a small family,” he said. “I was kind of like the dad of the class.”
While Weckwerth was honored to receive the sole Student Leadership Award this year, he said there are a lot of great student leaders at Dunwoody.
“I’m really honored to have received it. It’s a big deal. They only give it once a year, and most of the time it’s only a few students out of the whole school,” he said. “Tristan Zieman and Jesse Lovejoy were also great leaders– in my opinion. I would have liked to have seen them win the award, too.”
Now that Weckwerth has his associate’s degree, he says he’s ready to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“You should never stop learning,” he said of his decision to continue his education.
Weckwerth applied for the new Construction Supervision Leadership Bachelor’s completion program offered at Dunwoody.
He said he plans to participate in clubs on campus again, but he’ll leave the officer positions and leadership roles to other students.