Patryk Tomaszkiewicz, a May 2019 graduate from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, was awarded one of the first annual Top Hat Scholarships for his leadership, growth, and academic success.
Tomaszkiewicz double majored in biomedical sciences and entomology, with a minor in public health. He was nominated for this scholarship by Dr. Adrienne Brundage, instructional assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ (COALS) Department of Entomology.
Top Hat creates interactive learning technologies such as customizable textbooks, in-class engagement activities, secure exams and quizzes, and personalized homework assignments. In Brundage’s classes, Tomaszkiewicz used many Top Hat programs, which he said improved his ability to remember and apply the information he was learning.
“Each day, she (Brundage) would put some questions on Top Hat and integrate it with her lectures, and that’s how we would get credit for the class,” he said. “It was really nice because she could put pictures on the screen and then you could use Top Hat to identify what it was, and you could see live feedback to see what other students were (answering).”
“It was really engaging and it helped me learn in a different way,” Tomaszkiewicz said. “It made all of us come out of our shells, versus just hiding behind a clicker. We could actually be more involved and more active in our learning experience.”
In addition to being his professor, Brundage was also a mentor to Tomaszkiewicz, even serving as the driving force behind his decision to add entomology as a second major.
“She’s an amazing professor and a really good mentor,” Tomaszkiewicz said. “She was the one who nominated me and she was part of the reason why I got this scholarship in the first place.”
Tomaszkiewicz is currently in the process of applying to medical schools, with either McGovern Medical School in Houston or Baylor College of Medicine as his current first choice. After paying off student loans, the rest of the Top Hat scholarship money will go toward his medical education.
He hopes to eventually become a heart surgeon, but is also interested in the study of tropical vector diseases, where he could combine his interests in medicine and entomology. His desire to become a doctor began in high school when he participated in a program that allowed him to shadow doctors during their daily tasks.
When it came time to choose a college after high school, Tomaszkiewicz said the location of Texas A&M first sparked his interest, then a tour by Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, a family friend and professor in the COALS Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications, confirmed his decision.
“I really fell in love with the university, the traditions, the location, everything,” Tomaszkiewicz said.
Tomaszkiewicz’s family currently lives in Houston, but his parents were born and married in Poland. They fled to Greece during the communist regime, then moved to Canada, where they had Patryk and his brother.
The Top Hat Scholarships are designed to award students who see large academic improvements as a result of using Top Hat programs in the classroom and enable them to continue their academic achievements. In their first year, the company awarded a total of $100,000 in scholarships to five students across North America.