Late automotive professor establishes scholarship in student’s honor

Regina Ivy, Editory-in-Chief

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When Dick Rogers died, he left a request to donate to a scholarship fund. Not in his own name, but the name of his former studentRyan Landers. 

The Ryan Landers Memorial Scholarship was founded and named after a student who went to Lincoln Land during 2007. He died in a car accident during his time at Lincoln Land. He was just 19 years old. 

Lander’s parents and Dick established the scholarship for automotive students in his honor in 2008. Dick’s family requested that instead of sending flowers to his memorial, contributions should be made to that scholarship fund. 

I know Dick well enough to know that he wouldn’t want people to send flowers that are just gonna die and be thrown away,” said Joanie Rogers, his wife, and retired foundation office coordinator commented.  

Dick Rogers inspired his students. Ryan Landers was no exception to that.  

“Ryan was just one of those students that Dick just grew fond of and worked hard. I don’t know if Dick kind of saw a glimpse of himself when he was that age.” Joanie said. 

When Landers was killed, Dick had lost someone who he had thought very highly of, thus the establishment of the LLCC scholarship.  

“He would want people to give back to the college that (he) loved so much and to a scholarship that meant a lot to him,” Joanie said. 

Dick took opportunities he had to be a positive influence on someone else’s life. Damon Tanke of the automotive department in LLCC’s Workforce Development Center was once a student of Dick’s.  

“He was very inspirational to me as a student going off into the industry and Brian (the other automotive instructor). He was the one who really inspired us to do teaching,” Tanke said. 

The automotive field has lots of opportunities for people going into it. There is a deficit in technicians due to people retiring, and there isn’t a lot of people going into the industry. Tanke’s advice to the next recipient of the Ryan Landers Scholarship is to seize the opportunities that are being presented in this field, especially now.  

He clarified, “There are lots of opportunities out there, but most people think that it’s just working on cars, but there’s much more than that. You can go on to expand yourself other than just working in the shop.” 

The current recipient of the scholarship, Todd Leuelling of Williamsville, is a father. He juggles his family life with his school life. He says that “The Ryan Landers Scholarship has really helped me with my tuition costs.” 

Although Leuelling never had the opportunity to have Rogers as a professor, there are those that have moved on in the automotive industry who have been impacted by Dick’s caring teaching style. 

Alicia Davis, a former LLCC Workforce student was once a student of Dick’s, she felt as she was close to him, even as a female automotive student.  

“Professor Dick Rogers was very important to me.” Davis started 

“He really had straightforward, no gray-area way of reaching out, and that was really important to me, especially as a female student, and someone who has not grown up in the automotiveindustry setting. I had to teach myself everything that I knew up to that point, so his straightforward teaching really meant a lot. He just had a really just had a great ability to teach,” Davis said. 

Karen Sanders, executive director of the scholarship foundation, explained the details of the scholarship. 

She said that the scholarship offered to automotive students is valued at $500. The application will open Dec. 1 and will close March 1. Students who are planning on applying for this scholarship should make sure they are a first-time freshman at LLCC and in good academic standing. This means that they have a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and are taking a minimum of 6 credit hours. There is even a special preference for students who are graduates of Capital Area Career Center’s auto tech program. 

The scholarship can be applied for once a year. Awards are made for the following academic year.  

“He (Ryan) must have touched Dick’s heart in some special way because he established the scholarship and named it after him,” Sanders remarked. 

LLCC Foundation scholarships are competitive. Nearly 400 students applied for foundation scholarships last year. 

“Dick never stopped teaching,” Joanie commented. “He loved Lincoln Land, it was his home for several years and he had a lot of students that looked up to him. I don’t think he ever realized how much he meant to some of his students and how much of an impact he made on their lives. He’s always been a hard worker and dedicated to everything that he does.” 

To learn more about the scholarship or to donate, go to llccfoundation.org.