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Stiltner's unique path brings him to MVNU

Out of college you don’t always get the job you expect.

Rob Stiltner, MVNU’s food service director, quickly discovered this after graduating from Heidelberg with a degree in Communication and Theater Arts.

Stiltner looks back on his time as the manager of a 10-minute oil change and logistics coordinator of a building materials distribution center and is thankful for the path that God has placed him on.

Stiltner’s journey began at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, his hometown. There, he got plenty of hands-on experience in what he expected to be his future career field.

He recalls working as the station manager and music director for his college radio station and the assistant manager for the television station.

Stiltner was inducted into the school’s broadcasting Hall of Fame inaugural class.

However, college was more than just textbooks and tests for Stiltner.

“It’s about learning social skills, screwing up and taking responsibility for it, how to function with people that aren’t like you, and getting out of your comfort zone,” Stiltner said.

He met his wife, Beth, during his time at Heidelberg, and the two have been married for 20 years.

In 2008, he joined a roofing company and became Vice President of Operations.

“This became my dream job,” Stiltner said. I made a ton of money which allowed Beth and me to accomplish one of our goals: for Beth to be a stay-at-home mom.”

Like most dreams, this had to come to an end, he said.

Stiltner was left without a job when his boss told him he had no money to pay him, and wouldn’t for a long time.

“I was crushed. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a job. We tithed, we were involved in church,” he said. “I couldn’t understand why God was allowing this to happen. I still struggle with this whole thing to this very day.”

Stiltner did what he could amid the tough circumstances.

“I cashed out my retirement so my family could function as close to normal as possible. The job market was really tough and eventually the money ran out, so I had to swallow my pride and go get help.”

Stiltner said when he was at his lowest point, his wife suggested culinary school, since he is a great cook.

In February 2011, Stiltner enrolled in the Columbus Culinary Institute.

“I was one of the oldest students in the class, so they voted me to be the class leader, which basically means getting there before everyone else to get the kitchen ready.”

That summer, Pioneer Catering put a job posting in the newspaper for an assistant dinner cook at MVNU. Stiltner said this fit his schedule perfectly.

“I would leave my house at 5:15 a.m., go to class until noon, come to work here in the caf until 7:30, go home and say hi to the family, study, get up, and do it all over again.”

Despite his busy schedule, Rob received recognition for his actions and hard work. He was promoted to lead dinner cook that J-term, and then to Executive Chef in the fall of 2012.

“This kind of opportunity is very rare, because I hadn’t graduated yet and didn’t have much professional experience,” he said.

Stiltner served as Executive Chef until the end of the school year, and then was promoted to Food Service Director in June of 2016.

Stiltner graduated from the Columbus Culinary Institute with honors.

He went to college to get a job in radio, and to culinary school to own a food truck. But, God had other plans and he is happy and thankful to be where he is now.

Stiltner has four kids. The oldest is in the Navy stationed in Yokosuka, Japan; one is a freshman at Heidelberg who plays volleyball; his youngest two daughters attend Highland High School.

Through his life, Stiltner has learned to be happy with where God has placed him.

He has also gained countless opportunities, experiences and friendships by following God’s will for his life and praising Him in the storms.

“Life is not easy — if you allow the world to control you, you will walk through life depressed and always wanting more,” Stiltner said. “If you try to chase money and that’s how you base your self-worth, then you will be worthless. I’ve learned that when you chase money, you never catch it.”

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