“Underachiever” is not a label anyone who knows Bethany Witemeyer (’20) would have given her as a student. Bethany graduated from Abilene Christian University with a double major in computer science and mathematics and a concentration in computer theory and is now enrolled in graduate school at Texas A&M where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in computer science and focusing her research on computer graphics. As an undergrad student, Witemeyer spent time in pursuits that enriched her educational experience and furthered her desire to go to graduate school. One of her favorite activities was giving presentations for the math club, Mu Sigma, where she could spend time with people who had a similar interest discussing things they were passionate about. Bethany also lists traveling to Oxford to study abroad with SITC as a close second in her treasured memories of ACU.
ACU helped shaped Bethany’s faith which is at the core of what motivates her to be a good student and the best team member she can be. She said that the relationships she formed with professors, both in SITC and at ACU in general, were pivotal in shaping her faith. As they showed her kindness and shared their own faith, these professors were role models to her in shaping what type of person she wanted to be and better equipped her for being a person of faith in the world. Witemeyer said, “My time with SITC has shaped my future in many ways. The most significant is probably in a career direction. I knew when I started undergrad that I wanted to go to graduate school, but I always thought I would go for math and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after that. It was through conversations with my professors and taking more and more computer science classes that I discovered that computer graphics was the right career direction for me. And I couldn’t be happier about it!”
Entering the world of graduate school has meant learning to navigate the delicate balance of school, work, and personal activities in a new environment at a time that has presented numerous challenges. Like many students across the nation, COVID-19 has impacted her educational experience as she is mainly working and going to school online rather than sitting in a computer lab or classroom. Bethany said that she looks forward to Sundays when she is able to gather with her church family, saying that it has been a blessing to spend time with others in an encouraging environment which in turn gives her the energy she needs to get through the week. Like many of us, Bethany is learning a little more each day how to handle the effects of the pandemic and she encourages us that “The way we can make it through is one day at a time.”
Bethany wants prospective students to know that “ACU is a special place with professors that truly care about their students. There are opportunities to get involved both socially and academically, and those opportunities can allow you to start determining what you want to do after college. ACU is a place where you will grow both academically and spiritually, and it will help prepare you for whatever life holds.”
Finally, Witemeyer shares one of the best pieces of advice she received as a student from math professor, Dr. John Ehrke. He advised her “to pick a career based on the type of lifestyle you want to have. Make sure that, as you’re evaluating what career path you want to take, you consider both the type of work you’ll be doing and the lifestyle you’ll be signing up for.”