defying gravity Major Psychology and Social Behavior and Criminology and Law and Society
Minor Civic and Community Engagement and Conflict Resolution
Hometown Huntington Beach, CA Find Nikki On
Nikki Goodman’s positive outlook on life inspires our community to give back to what we are so graciously given to us. Charlene Ip, a friend who has been impacted by Nikki’s compassionate and humble actions emphasizes that “Nikki has told me that her goal while she is here at UCI is to create a movement, getting students to care and increase their commitment to making a real difference in the world–focusing their energies on solving the social and environmental problems that matter most, to the people that live in our communities.” Recently Nikki has received the UCI Social Ecology Dean’s Award for Community Engagement while also being a Peer Educator at the Counseling Center, a suicide prevention hotline counselor at New Hope Counseling as well as working with the Orange County Rescue Mission, Village of Hope in Tustin. In the past 5 years, she has also committed her time to the organization Motel Kids which works to bring resources to abandoned, abused, and homeless children. Nikki’s dedication towards fighting against the world’s injustices is only the beginning and she will surely go on creating a better community.
ED: What is your motivation?
NG: My motivation is other people. I’m definitely a people lover and I think humanity is interconnected. I have yet to meet a person who I’m not impressed and absolutely fascinated by. I could sit in Starbucks for hours with anyone just listening to how they came to be the person they are now. I just love it! I think that humanity is beautiful and I want to do my part to keep it that way. I guess, in a way, my motivation is self-interest; I am always looking for the high that comes with being able to have a positive impact on someone who needs a helping hand; a friend. Even if all I do in a day is give someone a pen when they forget one, I feel good; I get my “fix.” I guess I figure that I would love to live in a world where people can rely on one another, where people use the extra they have and give it to those in need; that way humanity can sustain itself. See, the thing is, I’m not sure what I did to deserve everything I am blessed with, there must have been a glitch somewhere because it really isn’t fair. So it’s only natural to complete the cycle by utilizing my health, talents, and privileges to benefit others who may not have access to the same things.
ED: What have you accomplished?
NG: I work with this group of middle school girls dealing with eating/image disorders, technically I’m their “mentor” but I feel more like a big sister to these girls. I try and come up with some sort of bonding event for them each month so for our November event I helped them to organize food drives for their schools and communities. We were able to raise over 450 pounds of food and supplies to donate for the Thanksgiving season. It was pretty amazing to see these girls really look outside themselves and become passionate about a cause they cared for. One thing I’m pretty proud of is what was accomplished during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. After months and months and months of trying to get someone to respond to my emails and phone calls, a representative from the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action finally got in contact with me and after a lot of convincing was able to grant me funding to sponsor a Body Beautiful campaign for Irvine. Not only did the funding allow for tons of educational material to be distributed and presented, but I was able to get in contact with two speakers from the National Eating Disorder Association who came to speak at UCI. Words couldn’t describe how grateful I am to the people who made all of that happen because we were able to reach a lot of people who had no prior access or knowledge to any form of education.
ED: What is your passion?
NG: I care deeply about the well being of other people and I’m really passionate about community engagement and service. Specifically, I am really passionate about depression/suicide help and prevention and eating/image disorder awareness and prevention. I think that students have the ability to make huge changes to positively impact the communities surrounding us. It’s really upsetting to me when students don’t give themselves enough credit; they think that just because they don’t have a lot of money, or just because they don’t have “connections” that they can’t make a difference. It’s just not true! Students are the voice of innovation, the voice of change and we have the power to really make a difference and essentially improve our world. Don’t misperceive me though, because I’m not really an optimist at all, in fact I’m quite sarcastic, but I think it’s important to remember the difference between being realistic and being a pessimist. There’s beauty in just about everything; some days I may have to look a little harder, but it’s hard to be anything but genuinely happy when I find it.
ED: What do you hope to accomplish?
NG: I hope to make an impact on UCI students and get our university’s reputation changed to a more community engaged campus. Most of the time when I mention, “community engagement”, no one has any idea what I’m talking about. I really hope that during the time I spend here at UCI I can cultivate some sort of change or movement to get students to realize their potential and ability to be involved. My ultimate goal is to get the university to incorporate community engagement into the general education curriculum. It’s pretty idealistic but it’s not only important for the reputation of the university, but it shows that our generation is not selfish and we’re committed to leaving a positive mark on history and humanity. College campuses are full of absolutely brilliant people who love to challenge and critique everything; and while this is amazing it breeds so much cynicism. I don’t like negative energy; I don’t think it’s productive or helpful. I see so many people in my life get sucked into these self criticizing, dismal, angry ruts and if I can do something, anything, to pull people out I’ll do it in a heartbeat. My theory is if we were able to cultivate our knowledge, talents, and brilliance and, rather than challenging and opposing one another, instead, challenging the capitalistic ideals we are all so accustomed to and fighting the idea that we should only be concerned with ourselves, we could really make a dent in the fight against the world’s injustices.