FMU senior to pursue degree in engineering


After graduation, Widejko plans to pursue his master’s degree.

Justin Baird, Staff Writer

It was the inspiration from a high school teacher that inspired one FMU student to pursue their dreams.

Ryan Widejko graduated from Marlboro County High School and is a senior at FMU majoring in computational physics with a minor in chemistry and math.  Widejko said he has always had a niche for sciences, a fascination that came into focus during high school.

“Mrs. Wafer noticed my interest in science classes and was always showing us the really cool parts of it,” Widejko said. “She’s the one that pushed me to excel in science.”

Widejko has been involved in the Mars Student Imaging project, made available to him by Mrs. Wafer, who planned the trip through grant money the school received. The project is sponsored by NASA and Arizona State University, where it is held each year.

Widejko has also participated in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) for three summers. REUs are research opportunities provided by most colleges that pay and house students at a certain university for a portion of the summer.

Associate Professor of Chemisty Dr. Jennifer Kelley commented on the benefits of participating in REUs.

“REUs are awesome opportunities for students,” said Kelley. “Students don’t have to stay home and work a job they don’t like; they can go and get paid, paid well at that, to do something within their field of study.”

Widejko’s research consists of two REUs at Clemson University through the Palmetto Space Grant Consortium, which has a direct association with NASA, and one REU at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), where he conducted biomedical engineering research.

Since that time, Widejko has given three research presentations. He has presented at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Richmond, Va., the National Meeting of the American Physical Society in Atlanta, Ga. and the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Physical Society in Tallahassee, Fla.

“These research opportunities have been great experiences,” Widejko said. “They have also added to my ability to go to graduate school. Graduate schools are no longer impressed with all the classes you have taken, but what you have actually done.”

Widejko has been accepted to two graduate schools and is waiting to hear back from several others.  He plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master of Science in Engineering.

Widejko is the recipient of the Patriot Scholarship, the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship and the Kathy Sullivan Scholarship. He is president of Kappa Mu Epsilon, the math honors society and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, a university honors society. Widejko has also received the Dean’s and President’s List honors.

Widejko also works with the American Chemical Society, called the Chemistry Club at FMU. The Chemistry Club is involved with several community and campus outreach programs, such as the Children’s Hospital Dance Marathon and National Chemistry Week.

Widejko said FMU was not his first college choice, but it was ultimately the best decision because of the personal relationships he has been able to build with his professors.