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Engineering Her Future: Carolyn Wakeman

Thu Jun 1, 2017 at 05:28 PM

Carolyn Wakeman

After getting a good grounding in liberal arts subjects at a college in Idaho, Carolyn Wakeman found herself missing something: mathematics.

“My fifth-grade self would never believe that I missed math,” says the straight A student and President’s List honoree. “Math is the language for the way everything works. It’s the gateway.”

Carolyn started her Blue Ridge journey in 2015, and is on track to earn an associate of science degree with an engineering specialization, finishing next spring. Her long-term career goal is to study rehabilitative engineering to make prosthetics. She is now considering programs at Virginia Tech or Old Dominion University.

“I love the complexity of the human body,” Carolyn, 21, says, demonstrating bending her elbow. “What is the force needed to make that movement? Thinking about replicating that movement to help someone is really intriguing to me.”

She became interested in rehabilitation while working at a summer camp in Pennsylvania for people with a wide range of disabilities. Some of the campers communicate through sign language, so Carolyn decided it would be practical to fulfill her foreign language requirement here with courses in American Sign Language. Practicality is very important to her.

The Woodstock, VA native is a great example of the laws of physics as well. “An object in motion tends to stay in motion” could describe her on most days. She keeps her hands busy by knitting. She keeps her mind supple by reading fiction and doing Sudoku puzzles. When she found some downtime in her schedule, she took evening welding classes at BRCC and earned two certifications: in 3G Fluxcore Arc Welding and 3G Shielded Metal Arc welding.

Courses like vector calculus, differential equations, and university physics loom on her academic horizon. Carolyn has definitely become reacquainted with her old “frenemy,” math.

“My final semester will be nothing but math and science,” she says with a smile.