Black History Month: Advocating for others with Statler College biomedical engineering student Sonia Ndifon
In celebration of Black History Month, the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University is honoring students, alumni and faculty from diverse backgrounds to showcase their successes in engineering and beyond and share how they continue to make a difference in society.
Story by Adrianne Uphold, Graduate Assistant
Biomedical engineering major Sonia Ndifon realized she wanted to make a difference in others' lives when she saw first-hand how hard it could be not to have access to health care.
"Growing up, most people in my community had no access to health care, and I, unfortunately, witnessed how this cost them their lives," Ndifon said. "This ignited a passion in me for healthcare and medicine. Then, when I got to high school, I developed an interest in hands-on experiments, building and fixing things."
The Yaoundé, Cameroon native said when it came time to choose a major for college, the decision was easy when she realized she could blend her two most significant interests, medicine and engineering, into one by pursuing a biomedical engineering degree. Her high school experiences and teachers inspired her to choose engineering.
"As soon as I got into high school, we had physics, chemistry and biology labs that ran simultaneously with those classes," Ndifon said. "As a visual learner, it was nice to connect what I learned in class to something I did with my hands in the lab. But it was even nicer and more exciting to see those things work, for example, the first time I built a circuit and saw a bulb light up."
While on campus, Ndifon has served as an orientation leader and a Statler College Ambassador.
"I'm proud of the outreach work I have been able to contribute to here on campus," Ndifon said. "There are many different opportunities to reach out, meet and connect with prospective students during which I can share my story and experience here at the Statler College, and hopefully encourage them to pursue an engineering degree here."
One semester, Ndifon was tutoring a high school student in math interested in engineering who was scared that he would not succeed in engineering because he was struggling with math. Ndifon helped him over the semester with many review and practice sessions, and before the end of the semester, the student had aced the math exam.
"He said he felt like he could go into engineering now that he understood math more," Ndifon said. "When I heard his words, I was happy he felt more confident in his math skills. I also felt privileged to have been in a position where I could give another student the extra push they needed to go into engineering."
For Ndifon, her family and community keep her motivated to strive towards excellence, and her father has pushed her to work hard.
"As a woman in STEM, I know that hard work and discipline are qualities I need to keep working on and improving," Ndifon said. "In addition to that, seeing my community and thinking about the change in healthcare access I hope to contribute to is a huge motivating factor for me."
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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