Gary Rozek: The Gift of Affirmation

Gary Rozek is a longtime Kirkwood enthusiast

When asked how he got involved in so many local endeavors, Gary Rozek answers simply, “I said yes.”

Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the second of seven siblings, he’s a man deeply rooted in family and community life. Rozek finds that Kirkwood mirrors his enthusiasm for tackling innovative and entrepreneurial projects. (Included in a long list of cutting-edge educational efforts, Kirkwood has built a wind turbine, a winery, a world-class teaching hotel and a regionally recognized healthcare simulation center – with no indication of slowing the growth of such innovations.)

“Kirkwood is serving a great need for education by minding the gap, helping some students into a career in just two years while providing others what they need through professional Continuing Education courses,” Rozek asserts. Rozek should know. He is the Chairman of Centro, a company founded by his father in 1970, which supports the needs of original equipment manufacturers for custom rotationally molded products. “Centro has used Kirkwood’s 260E program for on-the-job employee training. Also, a number of new employees have come
to work at Centro after completing the advanced manufacturing program offered by a partnership between Kirkwood and Mount Mercy University.”

Rozek’s role at Centro is just one of the many hats Rozek dons in the Corridor. He’s also served as board president for the National Czech and Slovak Museum, and was a driving force behind the museum’s renovation and move to higher ground: “Putting it back together after the ’08 flood was a labor of love. My grandfather came over from Czechoslovakia. I love its mission and how special it is to Cedar Rapids.”

Kirkwood is an important beneficiary of Rozek’s philanthropy. He’s a longtime member of the Facilities Foundation board and, in addition to personal gifts to the Kirkwood Foundation, he’s established both the Centro Endowed Scholarship and the Gary Rozek Endowed Golf Scholarship, both of which will support our students forever.

“I was facing some tough decisions for the upcoming year in prioritizing my goals, and finances are certainly a large consideration as I work towards earning my degree,” reveals Kirkwood student Brian Schreck in his letter of thanks for receiving the 2013-2014 Gary Rozek Endowed Golf Scholarship. “This will make it possible for me to continue my pursuit of two things very dear to me: my desire to one day serve the public as a police officer and to continue to represent Kirkwood Community College as a member of the golf team.”

Rozek has played golf for most of his life, and at one time considered pursuing the sport professionally. Why did he want to create a golf scholarship? “There are many life lessons in the sport. It teaches you honesty, discipline, etiquette, sportsmanship and integrity.” It’s clear these are lessons Rozek learned well.

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