In the Game
At Widener, Hayley Bonhage is preparing for a career in computer science and making their mark on the university’s Esports program.
- College of Arts & Sciences
By day, Hayley Bonhage ’21 studies computer science.
By night and weekend, Hayley competes in multi-player Overwatch matches as a member of Widener’s collegiate Esports team.
Under the in-game name ‘Seabass’ – a homage to their love of fish – Hayley has emerged as a leader in the university’s Esports program, now in its second year as a varsity sport.
Being on the ground level of the Pride’s video gaming venture has given Hayley the chance to “create something that will outlive my stay at Widener. I’m working with the coach to get things done, helping to direct what we want the program to look like, the tournaments we take part in, what our social media looks like.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily closed the university’s Esports arena space. But given the nature of gaming, team members have continued practicing and competing remotely, even when more traditional athletic programs are on hiatus.
“We’ve definitely been in the spotlight, but it’s a good spot to take on,” said Hayley.
At Widener, Hayley adeptly balances athletics and academics, sometimes playing a few matches in between classes. Hayley is also a member of Widener’s Women in Computing Club, which does outreach to high school students, helping to spur interest in the discipline, particularly among women.
Beyond their computer science major, Hayley is also minoring in computer information systems and mathematics, and is keeping their specific career options open.
I’m interested in a lot of different applications in computer science so I’m not sure where that will take me. It will be an adventure either way. — Hayley Bonhage ‘21
As a high school student, Hayley was attracted to the small, intimate nature of the Widener community. On a second campus visit, they were recognized by a faculty member, and that made a real impact.
“Professors know who I am. I’m not just a face in the crowd,” said Hayley.
Through Widener’s well-regarded co-op program, Hayley has gained vital professional experience. For eight months, they worked fulltime on software development at Jensen Hughes, an engineering consulting firm. At first, the co-op was in-person in the company’s West Chester office, but later transitioned to remote due to the pandemic. The change offered Hayley the chance to refine those all-important flexibility skills. And when the co-op ended, Jensen Hughes asked them to stay on part time during the school year.
“It’s been an invaluable experience. I’ve learned a lot of new things and have been able to apply my knowledge and adapt,” said Hayley.
Hayley grew up engaging in more traditional sports, including softball and swimming. But video games were always present in their life, especially with two older brothers. Playing on the Esports team for the blue and gold fills Hayley's competitive drive.
“It’s great to be part of a team again, to practice on your own and with a team, and to represent your school,” they said.