Meet the Grads, Sonia-Frida Ndifon: Making an impact on campus
Although far from her hometown in Yaounde, Cameroon, senior biomedical engineering student Sonia-Frida Ndifon has found a sense of purpose and belonging at West Virginia University’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
Story by Brittany Furbee, Communications Specialist
Growing up, Ndifon always had an interest in medicine and healthcare, but it wasn’t until she experienced lab sciences in high school that she became interested in engineering.
“I remember the first time I built a circuit board and saw the bulb light up,” said Ndifon. “Combining my passion for medicine with my new-found interest in engineering, biomedical engineering seemed like the best option that allowed me to blend both fields.”
WVU’s impressive biomedical engineering program and the campus’s proximity to Maryland where many of her family members lived, helped solidify her choice to pursue her education at the Statler College.
“When I came to campus, I knew I had made the right choice,” said Ndifon. “The sense of community I felt was second to none."
Ndifon wasted no time getting involved on campus. Her freshman year she joined the African Student’s Association. She was drawn to the organization because it provided her with a sense of community at WVU, while being so far from home.
During her junior year, Ndifon served as secretary of ASA and later went on to serve as president throughout her senior year. As a member of the leadership team, she helped organize the ASA’s annual start of year cookout in the fall semester where they welcomed new and current members to a celebratory event full of food and networking opportunities.
She was also a part of the organization's annual African Night, a cultural celebration in the spring semester that gives members the opportunity to showcase their unique cultures through food, music, and fashion.
This past spring, ASA was able to collaborate with other black student organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers, 100 Black Women at WVU and the Black Student Union, to organize a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the National Museum of African American History in celebration of Black History Month.
Ndifon was also active in the Minorities Association of Pre-healthcare Students, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the National Society of Black Engineers and a member of the Statler College Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee.
As a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, she was selected to present her Honors EXCEL research at the organization's annual conference in San Antonio, Texas in October, 2022.
“My project focused on osseointegration, a surgical procedure in which a titanium rod is inserted into the residual femur of an amputee and connected to a transdermal abutment to which the distal portion of the prosthetic leg is attached,” explained Ndifon. “The traditional mechanical socket interface is a source of skin irritation and pain for amputees. Osseointegration shows promise in addressing these problems.”
According to Ndifon, her research would not have been a success without the support from her project mentors Sergiy Yakovenko, adjunct assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Statler College, and doctoral student Kacie Hanna.
Throughout her tenure at the Statler College, Ndifon also had the opportunity to serve as a Statler Ambassador. In this role, she was able to represent the college and assist with recruitment at events like High School Visitation Day, Discover WVU Day and Decide WVU Day.
“Some of my most memorable moments at the Statler College are from interacting with prospective and incoming students,” said Ndifon. “We recently had a High School Visitation Day where we had high school students come to campus. I served on the student panel, answering questions from students and their parents about my experience at WVU. It was beautiful to be able to encourage students to come to WVU for school, while also pursuing my goal of becoming a physician. That moment in my life gave me a vivid description of ‘lifting as you climb.’”
Ndifon's hard work has paid off, as she recently received the Order of Augusta, the most prestigious West Virginia University student award.
Now that her undergraduate journey at the Statler College is coming to a close, she has her sights set on the future.
“I will be pursuing my Doctor of Medicine at the WVU School of Medicine in hopes of one day working in global health or with underserved communities,” said Ndifon. “In addition to the educational resources that the Statler College has given me, it has also provided me with the soft skills, such as leadership, communication, teamwork and organization, that I will need to succeed in my career.
Being involved both in and out of the classroom is what helped Ndifon develop these skills. Her advice to incoming students is to get involved early on at WVU.
“Step out of your comfort zone,” Ndifon said. “Join clubs and organizations that may be of interest to you even if they are not related to your major. Ask for help when you need it. Your tutors, professors and advisors are here for you and want you to help you succeed.”
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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