MELBOURNE, FLA. — Dazzled as a youngster by the towering rockets at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and now seeking to play a role in future space exploration, Peter Waszkowski arrives in the fall as Florida Tech’s 2023 Farmer Scholar.
Named for Phillip W. Farmer, the former chairman, president and chief executive officer of L3Harris Corp. and past chairman of the Florida Tech Board of Trustees, the 14-year-old Farmer Scholars program is the university’s most prestigious financial award.
The program provides a full, four-year scholarship annually to a Florida resident and high school graduate who is among the top 5 percent of his or her class and demonstrates exceptional academic achievement and outstanding personal character.
With a 5.58 weighted GPA good for the top 3% of his class at Estero High School in southwest Florida, hundreds of hours of community service and a penchant for working with other students to help them succeed, Waszkowski is an ideal fit for the Farmer Scholars program.
With plans to someday work on “major extraterrestrial projects” including exploring Mars or the planets beyond it, Waszkowski is an ideal fit for Florida Tech.
This journey started not far from the university’s Melbourne campus, at the KSC Visitor Center.
“These trips really showed me how incredibly impressive space exploration is to have a truly massive piece of machinery withstand launch and re-entry,” Waszkowski said in an email interview. “That is when I knew that I wanted to be a part of this field in the future.”
In the meantime, Waszkowski has used his time in – and out – of high school to prepare.
He has taken a “very rigorous course load” all four years, school counselor Lori Schultz noted in her letter of recommendation, and earned a spot on the straight A honor roll each year. He earned his AICE Diploma with Distinction as a junior and participated in dual enrollment through Florida Southwestern State College.
Waszkowski said positive thinking is a powerful tool for him.
“I believe that the ‘secret’ to academic success is to believe that you can learn the information and do the assignments,” he said. “I think that if you approach a problem or class with the mindset that you won’t be able to do it, then that result is much more likely to happen.”
While excelling academically, Waszkowski was busy elsewhere, as well. He was a varsity lettered athlete all four years of high school, playing on soccer, lacrosse and bowling teams. And he earned about 250 hours of community service at Estero High, including at LEAD Estero, the non-profit organization that he and a few other students founded to help provide scholarship and leadership opportunities are area youth.
“I believe that this experience contributed to Peter’s notable leadership skills and extraordinary qualities,” Julia Matos, Waszkowski’s Cambridge Spanish teacher, said in her letter of recommendation. She added, “At such a young age, he has genuinely inspired those around him, including myself.”