In the case of Brian and Annica Wayman ’99, both Meyerhoff Scholars and mechanical engineering grads, however, it’s easy to see how it all adds up. For them, math + science + UMBC = lasting romance.
“I guess it was probably a combination of having the same classes and seeing each other all the time,” laughed Brian, who, like his wife, the former Annica Warrick, is pursuing his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. Married since 2001, they also have an eight-month-old son, Donovan.
Like so many relationships, the Waymans might never have met if not for a particularly well-timed intervention by fate. In this case, fate went by the name of UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski.
Close to graduating from high school, Brian had already decided to attend UMBC, but Annica was far from making the same decision.
“I hadn’t even applied to UMBC,” she said. However, during an appearance by Dr. Hrabowski at a cultural diversity event at her high school, the two met and started talking about UMBC. “He was telling me about the Meyerhoff Scholars and he offered me the scholarship on the spot…I was floored.”
The two met soon after, at the “Summer Bridge” program held for Meyerhoff Scholars in the months before their freshman semester began. From the start, they found themselves working well together.
“We had to get together in groups of four or five and build a portable shelter” for the homeless, said Annica. “We had to work closely together a lot, and it just sort of went from there.”
As students at UMBC, both Brian and Annica stayed very active in campus activities. Brian served as president of UMBC’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Engineering Council of Majors. Annica, a dance minor, also took part in MARC U*STAR, or Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research, and acted as president of UMBC’s chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta public service sorority.
They also completed internships, which helped them to focus in on their doctoral research, which for both involves bioengineering. Brian’s research focuses on how mechanical factors such as blood flow affect arteries. Annica is conducting research concerning certain types of cell adhesion. Both of them have received honors in their studies, and both hope to finish their degrees this year and work in the medical device industry.
Despite the pressures of balancing their research and family life, the Waymans seem remarkably cool, calm and collected – just like an average family.
“It’s challenging, but rewarding,” said Brian. “We do our best to balance our work and our family life.”
The best reward, Annica said, is seeing her son at the end of the day.
“The challenges presented to us are the same as those presented to any working family trying to balance their careers with raising a child,” she said. “You can have a day when nothing goes right (in the lab), but then you can come home to see this smiling face who doesn’t care about that at all…It’s wonderful.”
– Jenny O’Grady
Originally published March 2006