May 7, 2024

FMU’s Ronisha Genwright uses computer science expertise to improve web experience in healthcare

For Mullins, SC native Ronisha Genwright, computer science has always helped her make important connections, both for herself and for others. Some of her most meaningful work and opportunities have stemmed from her field of study. 

A Robert E. McNair scholar, computer science major and mathematics minor, Genwright graduated from Francis Marion University on Friday. She will continue to use her skills to make healthcare more accessible and user friendly in her career. 

Genwright’s plans for the future include going to work for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Columbia as a software engineer. There, she will work on mainframe programming, which will ultimately lead to a more optimized web experience. 

Genwright’s first experience with the collaboration of computer science and healthcare was for her Honors Thesis project. On this project, she collaborated with fellow computer science major Alan Wallace to create an education toolkit for the South Carolina Cancer Alliance’s (SCCA) pediatric initiative. The toolkit is a webpage on SCCA’s main site that is designed to bridge the gap between parents of children diagnosed with cancer and the educators who engage with them in the classroom.

“The education toolkit is for educators as well as parents,” Genwright says. “Our hope is for all the information to be easier to navigate. The South Carolina Cancer Alliance wanted to make research easier for parents, so that’s what we wanted to focus on.”

The toolkit webpage is currently being integrated with SCCA’s existing site. Genwright says it should go live in the coming weeks. Genwright enjoyed the process of applying her education in a professional setting.

“One thing we do in the computer science department is have software development courses that help us get an idea of how to create a project for a hypothetical company,” Genwright says. “It was cool to apply that knowledge to the real world before even graduating.”

Working with educators and the healthcare industry was exciting for Genwright, as she got to use her expertise to improve accessibility of resources for a deserving population.

“Working in pediatric cancer and the education field was really interesting,” Genwright says. “My mom is a teacher, so I had seen firsthand how it can be difficult to accommodate a student that has unique educational needs, especially students with cancer. It’s really interesting to see how all these fields work together.”

Genwright credits Dr. Padmaja Rao as being an important part of her Honors Thesis project, as well as many other aspects of her life as a student. Rao was the one that connected Genwright and Wallace to the SCCA, and encouraged Genwright to become president of the computer science club, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

“Professor Rao is one of the professors that impacted me the most,” Genwright says. “I met her through ACM, and she encouraged me to take on more with that. She was a big motivator for me. She’s helped me with career development too. She’s really helped me a lot academically and personally.”

Genwright’s time at FMU is characterized by how she stayed involved in her academic community, as well as in student life. Genwright cites FMU’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry group as one of the organizations that made her feel most at home in college. 

“One thing I did as a student that helped me a lot was get plugged into clubs and organizations,” Genwright says. “That’s where I met a lot of people and had new experiences.”

One of Genwright’s favorite experiences was her study abroad trip to Germany. Dr. Rao encouraged Genwright to go, and even served as her study abroad advisor. 

While in Germany, Genwright gained many valuable life lessons.

“After I got back from studying abroad in Germany, I felt completely different because of the experiences I had and all the people I got to meet and connect with,” Genwright says. “Moving forward, when I go to job interviews and have to meet new people, I’m less nervous about it. I just remember how I did that in Germany. I was able to meet people who weren’t from the same country, so I know I can do it here now.”

Inspired by her trip abroad, Genwright became an International Programs student liaison upon her return to campus.

“I get to help other students and get them out of their comfort zones. A lot of opportunities at Francis Marion helped me do that, so it’s nice that I can give back.”