Bonor Ayambem

Bonor Ayambem '23 graduates with a degree in computer engineering and a minor in English.

Bonor Ayambem Strives to Keep Learning

She graduates with a degree in computer engineering and a minor in English.

Photography by

Christa Neu

In the four years Bonor Ayambem ‘23 has spent at Lehigh, one quality has driven many of her experiences—curiosity.

Ayambem is an international student from Nigeria. As a senior in high school, she wanted to pursue an education in the United States and narrowed her search to Pennsylvania because she had family living in the state. After an online search of Pennsylvania universities, Lehigh piqued her interest, and her curiosity.

“If I have an idea, I will do it 100% of the time,” Ayambem said. “I don't really get intimidated by the idea of trying something new. I trust myself enough to just be able to do things.”

Ayambem decided to major in computer engineering because she wanted to understand how advancing technologies work. But, not wanting to limit herself to the world of STEM and wanting to practice reading and writing—hobbies she loves—she also chose to minor in English.

Her minor reignited a love for storytelling, which led to accolades, including the Williams Prize for a fiction story.

Bonor Ayambem recording The Lehigh Insider.

Bonor Ayambem recording The Lehigh Insider. Photo: Contributed.

Ayambem said she especially cares about a particular group of people’s stories: her residents. Following an instinct to want to take care of other people, she became a Gryphon in her sophomore year, assigned to the Third Floors of Williams in Centennial II Complex, where she continued as a junior.

“I wanted my residents to feel like they were supported,” she says. “I wanted them to feel that there was somebody who cared about them because they're coming into a new place. I know how I felt coming to the USA from Nigeria. Everyone knows what it's like to step into a new place and not really know anyone. As much as that can be a fun adventure, it comes with all the feelings of loneliness, dread and uncertainty. I did not want them to feel that, or at least to feel alone in that, so I made myself available to them. I know all of them, first and last name, and I have such a clear image in my mind of who all of them are.”

She said being responsible for other individuals made her more responsible with herself, and that giving back to the community in this way was fulfilling.

Wanting to gain a deeper understanding of people on Lehigh’s campus, Ayambem approached Lehigh’s student-run newspaper The Brown and White about starting a podcast. Her passion-project “Lehigh Insider,” in which she interviews prominent Lehigh community members including President Joseph Helble, was born.

“I care about people’s stories,” Ayambem says. “I started thinking about all the people that I only know in one way and all the people whose stories are just reduced to one thing. The mission was to add more to these people's stories.”

Martindale trip to Denmark.

Ayambem visited Denmark as part of the Martindale Student Associates Honors Program. Photo on left by Asgar Ali '23.

Looking to extend her learning beyond Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she applied to the Martindale Student Associates Honors Program. She was one of 12 students selected to travel to Denmark and complete research. She landed on the topic of immigration.

“Martindale really fit me because the very core part of the program is asking questions, and one thing about me is, I have a question,” Ayambem says leaning forward with a laugh. “At any point in time, I have a question.”

She also found time to emcee Lehigh’s dance showcase FUSION because she wanted to practice public speaking, and attend a debate between the College Democrats and College Republicans on Civil Engagement Day because she wanted to learn more about American politics. She joined African Renaissance, TUMBAO and Bad Company early in her undergraduate career to get into dancing, and served as a tutor for Broughal Middle School in her first year to contribute her knowledge to the community.

Most recently, she joined the Women’s Wrestling Club and ran her first half-marathon.

“I joined wrestling to challenge myself, push my body, see what it's capable of,” Ayambem says. “Challenge your ideas about who you are because I see the girls that are wrestling and I'm like, ‘That can never be me,’ but how do you know if you're this kind of person or that kind of person if you don't even try it out. I tried out wrestling, and I love it.”

She said every significant experience she’s had at Lehigh points back to wanting to learn more about herself.

Her word of advice to other students? You will only get out what you put in, so care about what you’re doing, and get involved, as it will make your experience better.

“Every single thing I've ever involved myself with at Lehigh has taught me something new about myself,” she says. “Keep, keep, keep learning because knowing yourself gives you a lot of confidence."

–By Christina Perrier

Photography by

Christa Neu

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