Old Family Artifacts
April 27, 2020 By Erika R. Whitehead

Arby Dickert Wins the Vogelzang Law Academic Scholarship 2020

Vogelzang Law is pleased to announce that Arby Dickert is the winner of this year’s Vogelzang Law Academic Scholarship. Dickert, a high school science teacher at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville, Tenn., has been a teacher for five years and is currently getting a second Master’s Degree.

Scholarship applicants were asked to write an essay detailing the ways that asbestos is still used despite growing concern and government-issued regulations. For Dickert, this inspired him to take a personal approach.

“The story that I had been told is that my great grandfather, his name was Gordon, died from asbestosis,” Dickert said.

Dickert found a death certificate confirming his great grandfather’s asbestosis diagnosis while exploring his genealogy. His great grandfather worked as a pipefitter in Mobile, Ala. shipyards where he was exposed to asbestos fibers for years. At the time, there were no regulations geared toward reducing or banning the use of asbestos. It wasn’t until the Environmental Protection Agency implemented the Clean Air Act of 1970 that asbestos was discovered to be toxic.

As Dickert concluded the research for his essay, the information he learned brought him a little closer to learning about his great grandfather.

“He was someone that I did not know much about, I have no pictures of him,” Dickert said. “I was very curious about him.”

Dickert has relished his time teaching over the years. He said he enjoys the time he spends with his students, as well as the new perspective they give him on life. Most days, he realizes that his students rely on him for much more than just teaching the structured curriculum.

“As a teacher in a leadership position, just as an older adult, students come to you with all kinds of problems and questions,” Dickert said. “You get to realize that the things that we take for granted every day, a lot of these kids don’t have a clue.”

Before becoming a high school science teacher, Dickert earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a Master of Arts in Science. Dickert was a member of the American Chemical Society. He worked in sales and marketing, teaching vibration analysis classes in Russia, China, Taiwan, and Australia before transitioning into teaching.

“My driving force is, find a need and fill it,” Dickert said. “It [teaching] has really changed the way I look at things. When you’re in business, you have this mindset of what’s the first quarter profit? Then all of a sudden you get into teaching each kid and it’s just totally different.”

On April 1, Dickert began an online program to obtain a Master of Arts in Instructional Design at Western Governors University. Dickert is matriculating through his program ahead of schedule, with more than half of his courses completed. His scholarship will be applied to his tuition, which will aid in allowing him to obtain his degree early.

Dickert was joined at home by his wife and one of his sons when he received the exciting news that he was this year’s scholarship winner. Moving forward, he plans to continue to be mindful of the effect that toxic chemicals like asbestos can have on himself and others.

“I am much more careful,” Dickert said. “The best thing I can do is to steer clear of things that I know are dangerous, even if it’s long term exposure. I hope that I can wake up the kids that I teach.”

This year, 12 applicants applied for the scholarship. You can read Dickert’s winning essay here: https://bit.ly/2Scx75H

For more information about Vogelzang Law’s yearly scholarships, keep checking our scholarship page at: