When Lehigh announced its transition to online courses, Omogolo “Bishop” Pikinini '23 was just beginning to adjust to his first year of college.
As an international student from Botswana, he had not been home since the summer before arriving at Lehigh. After speaking with his advisor and family, he decided to stay in Bethlehem in order to ensure he would be on campus for his sophomore year.
This decision did not come easily.
“During a situation like this, you want to be in the comfort of your home,” Pikinini said. “As much as everyone is affected, it's better to be home with loved ones because of the sense of security you get when you’re at home.”
When his peers returned home in March, Pikinini found other sources to provide comfort. One of these coping mechanisms is writing music.
Pikinini, an aspiring rapper, said he works best at night. His most recent track, “Fallen,” focuses on the Black Lives Matter movement. He recorded it with the help of another Lehigh student.
What started out as a hobby became increasingly serious during his time in quarantine. A German producer from Famous Stage, a talent agency, connected with Pikinini after seeing his work in June. The partnership allows Pikinini to focus on writing his songs, while the producer works on the technical side.
When not writing music, Pikinini spent his time working on the COVID relief variety show, which was streamed on Lehigh’s YouTube channel on June 27 to raise money for essential workers in the Lehigh Valley. Pikinini co-hosted and wrote poetry for the show.
While Pikinini has remained busy through involvement in the show and music, this was not always the plan. In the beginning of the summer, Pikinini foresaw himself taking classes, but quickly dropped once he realized he needed a break from online learning.
“With everything going on, I thought I could just use this time to work on other things besides school,” he said.
This was partly due to his negative experience with online classes in the spring. Pikinini, an engineering major, did projects by setting up a makeshift lab in his dorm and sending his professor videos of the experiment.
“Motivation to keep yourself working online isn’t an easy thing,” Pikinini said. “It’s much easier when you go into a physical class. Now you have to actually drive yourself to watch lectures.”
Pikinini expects most, if not all, of his classes will be online in the fall. Although he is disappointed about the lack of in-person instruction, he feels better prepared mentally than he was in the spring.