Someone 2 Know: Nikki Hamada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Someone 2 Know: Nikki Hamada

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Growing up is hard.

As Reno High School senior Nikki Hamada admits, she's had some problems-- albeit small--accepting her Japanese heritage. 

"I always wanted to be like a little white girl with blond hair and blue eyes," said Nikki. As a younger person, Nikki noticed that kids around her were different.  

"I stuck out like a sore thumb." 

Nikki is more of a math person, and her AP Statistics teacher agrees. 

"She has a great brain for math," said Bryon Worthen. "She is very driven, and a petty fun kid to teach."

But it was an English assignment not math, that has the biggest role in this story. In her freshman year of high school, Nikki read a book called Farewell to Manzanar. 

The protagonist was Japanese, living in America during the 1940's. "The book was about her experience with her family, getting sent to the internment camps during World War II," she said. 

Those 200 or so pages can change a life and perspective profoundly. 

Nikki reads from an essay: 

'"After reading your book I have gained a large amount of confidence in myself."

As a homework assignment, her teacher made the class write letters to the author.     

"For many years, all I wanted in life was to be Caucasian, and not have to worry about being judged or picked on," she wrote. 

That essay was so good,  she even submitted it to, and won Nevada's 'Letters about Literature' essay contest.

"I didn't expect to win first place out of everybody in Nevada."

But the story in this book, is eerily similar to one in Nikki's real life.     

"She honestly doesn't like to talk about it," Nikki said. 

Her grandmother and her siblings were placed in a Japanese internment camp in Rower, AZ during World War II. Niiki doesn't hear too much about their experience inside.   

"My grandma was like too emotionally and mentally scarred to even talk about it."

But Nikki didn't need words to learn a lesson. Her  silence was enough. 

"It has really helped me appreciate what I have now," Nikki said. "I have all these opportunities they didn't have."

One of the biggest take always from her Grandma's story, is that she has to take advantage of education. Nikki plans on attending the University of Nevada to become a doctor.

Nikki's story is part of the Washoe County School District's Countdown to Graduation, where they share the inspiring stories of 17 graduating students. Click here to go to the school district's Countdown to Graduation webpage. 

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