A profile of Kevin Wojcik ’12 is Part III of “Faces of the Class of 2012,” a series on the academic and extracurricular interests of graduating seniors.
Hometown: Moorestown, N.J.
Academic Majors: Biological Foundations of Behavior: Neuroscience and Philosophy
The path of Kevin Wojcik ’12 to Franklin & Marshall College was a circuitous one.
During his search for the right college, Wojcik says he looked at “a lot of everything.” The Moorestown, N.J., native investigated large state schools and small liberal arts colleges, including Franklin & Marshall. But he decided to take his interest in biomedical engineering to the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“In high school, I had an aptitude for science and engineering,” Wojcik said. “I also enjoyed humanities, and I found both F&M and Georgia Tech appealing. F&M was my favorite liberal arts school.”
And it would eventually become his alma mater. After two years at Georgia Tech, Wojcik transferred to F&M in September 2009 for the College’s neuroscience major, which had impressed him a couple of years earlier. The decision appears to have paid off, as Wojcik graduated on May 12 with a double major in neuroscience and philosophy.
Wojcik says he found an immediate home at F&M in the Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building, the location of the biological foundations of behavior program. He worked closely throughout summer 2011 with Associate Professor of Psychology and Scientific and Philosophical Studies of the Mind Tony Chemero during a Hackman Scholarship—an award that provides stipends for faculty-mentored research projects. Chemero’s research centers on the idea that human experiences are best described in terms of “agent-environment dynamics,” not in terms of computation, or what happens inside the brain.
“We looked at perceptual changes with interaction in the environment using dynamic modeling,” Wojcik said. “Up until recently, most thinking was that cognitive function took place in a linear fashion: A affects B, which affects C, and these interactions did not account for what happens between the agent and the environment. There are flaws in that modeling.”
Early in his F&M career, Wojcik also discovered a second academic passion—philosophy. A former visiting professor of philosophy, Mary Beth Willard, told the transfer student that he had a “knack” for the subject. Wojcik found that philosophy complemented neuroscience in profound ways.
“I’d encourage everyone to take philosophy courses,” Wojcik said. “Looking back, it’s interesting to see how much I can relate between the two majors. They have way more in common than people think. Neuroscience is now answering a lot of questions philosophers have asked for years.”
Wojcik was busy outside the classroom as well, leaving his mark as a leader in F&M’s student-run Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and as chair of the College’s Student Conduct Committee. He became a certified EMT in high school as a way to give back to his community.
“I’ve always enjoyed learning about the human body, and riding an ambulance is always exciting,” said Wojcik, who was chief of F&M’s EMS during the spring 2012 semester. “The fact that we’re a student-run program is really special. It requires a lot of efficient resource management and dedicated personnel. Having a student-run program like this is something that very few colleges have. It’s a lot of responsibility, but an amazing learning opportunity.”
Wojcik received F&M’s Alice Distler Award, given to a student who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in volunteer service in the community. He also won the Kenneth A. Brookshire Memorial Prize in Psychology for outstanding undergraduate research.
“F&M is tough, and you have to work. If you're willing to take some initiative, there are a lot of wonderful opportunities for you to take advantage of,” Wojcik said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find a balance, but if you work hard, F&M will give back.”