Published on 6/7/2011 3:18:00 PM
Pitt Trustee Bobbie Gaunt (EDUC '72) learned the value of education from her parents.
A trailblazer for women executives in the automotive industry, Gaunt is co-owner and president of Capitol Holdings LLC, a small collection of automotive dealerships. In an effort to provide Pitt students with similar academic and career opportunities, Gaunt created in 2009 the Bobbie Andrea Gaunt Endowed Scholarship in the School of Education.
As a Pitt student, Gaunt received a scholarship, and she hopes her endowed fund will allow other students to focus on learning instead of finances.
“My scholarship enabled me to totally focus on my desire to be a great teacher, and now that I’m able, I want to provide that same opportunity for others to dedicate themselves to their academic careers so they can go on to teach and inspire children,” she said.
Gaunt’s parents grew up during the Great Depression and were unable to pursue their own educational goals, but they resolved to give their children the opportunities they didn’t have. Gaunt said her parents taught her to read long before she entered first grade, and once she began school, they always encouraged her to be a good student.
Following graduation from Pitt, Gaunt applied for a teaching position for which she was well qualified, but the job was offered to a man because, she was told, he had a family to support.
Never one to allow setbacks to stand in her way, Gaunt decided to shift her aspirations, and she began what would become a stellar career with Ford Motor Company. She was the first woman to enter Ford’s sales and marketing management program and the first woman to lead one of the automaker’s national operations. She retired in 2000 as president and CEO of Ford of Canada Ltd. and as vice president of Ford Motor Company.
For her accomplishments, Pitt recognized Gaunt as a Legacy Laureate in 2000, and she received the University’s Distinguished Alumni award in 2001.
The inaugural recipient of the Bobbie Andrea Gaunt Endowed Scholarship is Sarah Mueller, who is working toward a master’s degree in education with a certificate to teach high school chemistry. Mueller, who holds a 4.0 GPA, said the scholarship is making a big difference in her life.
“The past few years have been tough financially, so this scholarship has really helped,” said Mueller. “It has reduced the amount of my loan and made this year a little easier.”
And like Gaunt, Mueller still finds time in between her studies to give back to the community as a volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.