Astrophysics Major is in His Orbit

Astrophysics Major is in His Orbit

It is easy to understand why it’s taking Wendell Roberson so long to finally finish his pleasure reading of Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.

As a student ambassador with the College’s admissions office, a member of Leadership CofC, the public relations co-chair of the South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation (SCAMP), a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, a student employee in the Addlestone Library and Campus Recreation Services, Roberson doesn’t have a lot of free time.

That doesn’t even factor in the many hours he spends every week studying and researching as an astrophysics major.

It is beginning to look like Hemingway will remain on the shelf for a while.

Astrophysics major Wendell Roberson is an active member of the CofC community. (Photos by Reese Moore.)

Roberson has been busy since the day he first stepped foot on campus three years ago. He only intended to stay one semester at the College and then transfer to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. After talking with his father during that first semester, however, he decided to stay a little bit longer.

That was all he needed.

“After my second semester, I loved the College and wanted to stay,” he says.

Growing up on Lady’s Island, S.C., Roberson discovered early what he wanted to do with his life.

“I have always been fascinated with space itself, and since I also love to work with my hands, astrophysics seemed like the natural fit,” explains Roberson. “My dream is to make something that leaves the surface of the earth and explores the stars.”

He’s on the right trajectory.

Last year, Roberson took first place in the astrophysics section of the Georgia Tech Research Bound Poster Session. His research, funded through SCAMP and the College’s Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty (SURF) grant, looked at how planets outside our solar system formed over millions of years.

He also won an Excellence in Collegiate Education and Leadership (ExCEL) award, being named the School of Sciences and Mathematics’ Outstanding Student of the Year for the 2015–16 academic year.

And he hangs out with College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell ’69.

As a freshman, he was looking to make the most of his time at the College and decided to sign up for the mentor-mentee program. As it turns out, he was paired up with the president of the College. Even today, Roberson and McConnell meet several times a semester to talk.

“Wendell is a bright and driven young man who carries himself well on campus and in the community,” says McConnell. “He exhibits great character and integrity and is seen as a leader by his peers. Whenever I see Wendell on campus, he has an infectious smile on his face and is full of great energy. It has been a great joy to counsel him on a number of topics, guide him on his college journey and watch him grow personally and professionally as a student.”

Even though he still has a year left before graduation, Roberson is already looking to the future. He is leaning toward the prospect of joining the military after graduation and enrolling in the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. He hopes this will eventually lead to a career as a pilot and an engineer. If that doesn’t work out, he hopes to go to graduate school for aeronautical engineering.

Maybe, after all of that, he can finally sit down and find out how that Hemingway story ends.