Pete Cerny Endowed Scholarship in Aerospace Engineering
A conversation with Peggy Cerny.
Why did you choose to create a scholarship at Auburn University?
My husband was an Auburn aerospace engineering grad, Class of 1969. When he died suddenly of a massive heart attack in 2008 at age 62, some of his fraternity brothers decided to establish an engineering scholarship in his name. Our family is proud to continue the scholarship in Pete’s name.
What would you want the recipients of this scholarship to know about the person for whom it is named?
Pete Cerny was a 1969 Auburn University aerospace engineering grad. He went on to get his master’s in Operations Research elsewhere and completed nearly all the course work for a PhD. He came to the US (Huntsville, Ala.) in 1957 with his family when his dad was selected as a member of the Wernher von Braun rocket team, which designed the Saturn rocket that put man on the moon. I guess you could say he was “born” to be an engineer and shoot for the stars. He worked on many space projects, including the real Star Wars program and the Space and Missile Defense initiative. Pete served on the Auburn Aerospace Engineering Council headed by Dr. John Cochran. He loved Auburn, was a football season ticket holder for over 40 years, and managed to fit in an active social life while studying engineering. He was a wonderful spouse (to an Auburn grad), and a terrific father of two children (both Auburn grads). He was a very humble man and would be honored (and probably a little embarrassed) at having this scholarship established in is name. Pete never sought the limelight, but was recognized many times for his engineering and leadership achievements. He would probably say to the recipient: study hard, enjoy all that Auburn has to offer, take pride in being an Auburn engineering grad and, above all, “War Eagle!”
Tell us about your Auburn story, favorite tradition, a “War Eagle!” moment, or what Auburn has meant to you.
Pete and I met on a blind date to the Auburn/Georgia football game in the fall of 1966, when we were sophomores. We enjoyed three more great years on campus together. He proposed to me on the lawn of Samford Hall with a ring from Ware Jewelers in 1969, the year we graduated. We made sure to schedule our wedding for the off weekend between the Auburn/Georgia game and the Auburn/Alabama game (back when there was an off weekend). We have enough wonderful memories of our time at Auburn to fill a book. Many late nights studying, football from the Shug Jordan era, Dean Cater, Dean Foy, being in attendance at the 17-16 win over Alabama, sitting through tornado warnings in the rain to watch Auburn play Alabama at Legion Field in Birmingham, attending the first Auburn/Alabama home game at Jordan Hare, 40-plus years of Auburn football season tickets and fun tailgates, having wonderful careers thanks to hard work and our Auburn University degrees, and watching with pride as each of our children graduated from Auburn. We are an Auburn family through and through.
What do you hope your recipients gain through this scholarship?
Paying for college is hard. Pete worked part-time while at Auburn and had student loans to pay. Hopefully this scholarship will help a young engineering student be able to focus on pursuing an engineering degree and being the best they can be while at Auburn, while using this scholarship to help out a little bit with the finances.