Helen Dilworth of Sylvania has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during the 51st annual Spring Commencement ceremony. She is graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in Social Work Concentration and with Cum Laude honors.
The Sylvania resident graduated high school in northern Kentucky in 1967 and even though Morehead State offered her a partial scholarship to study education, she was denied the opportunity to attend by her father because a woman under the age of 21 at that time needed her father or husband's permission to sign a contract. Her father said no.
Dilworth enrolled at Owens in Fall Semester 2013 a few years after the death of her husband of 24 years, Robert. She quickly thrived. She was elected to the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, took part in the Honors Program and Honors Club and accepted a job in the Admissions office.
"My algebra teacher in high school told me that I shouldn't go to college because I'd have no chance to succeed," she said.
She earned the respect and praise of the Owens faculty.
"Her deep thinking and active involvement in our class quickly set her apart from other students," said Pam Chibucos, Professor of Teacher Education. "She is an analytical and dogged researcher whose information enriched our class on many topics."
"Helen currently has the record for Honors Option Contracts at 13 -- only three are necessary. An Honors Option Contract allows students to work beyond the regular class work and to enhance their learning. Her energy is boundless and her work ethic is beyond anything l have ever seen," said Dr. Russ Bodi, Professor of English.
After graduating high school, Dilworth scored 98 percent on the Civil Service Exam and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Cincinnati hired her as a secretary. Within a year, she was one of a handful of employees selected to go to Washington, D.C. and work at the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency, which collaborated with Keep America Beautiful and launched Earth Day. The national campaign was an immediate success, and Dilworth was in the middle of it, answering all of President Nixon's correspondence and taking it to the White House for his signature.
"I met President Nixon and shook his hand. It was an interesting time. I did it for seven years."
Dilworth was visiting Toledo in the mid-1980s when she met her future husband. They married and had a son, John. Helen read all of John's textbooks during his school years to help quench her thirst for knowledge. John Dilworth is also an Owens graduate who went on to earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo. He will earn a master's degree from the University of Toledo May 6. Starting Fall Semester 2017, Helen Dilworth will enroll at the University of Toledo and begin work on a bachelor's degree.
View Commencement Speakers.
- View past Class Speakers.