By Marah Rigaud
The following is the fourth installment in a series of stories written by the 10 talented participants in the 2022 Hofstra University Summer High School Journalism Institute, from July 11-22. In this piece, Marah Rigaud, of Elmont Memorial High School, profiles Chiamaka Nwako, a recent graduate of Elmont High. All participants were asked to write short biographies on one another as an opening exercise.
Chiamaka Nwako, 18, can be described as an innovative and fun soul from Nigeria who says she enjoys learning about the world and how to make it better. She currently is transitioning from high school to college, which she notes hasn’t been easy.
During the global coronavirus pandemic that began in March 2020, Nwako became more introverted, she said. This was an especially difficult period for her because she had emigrated from Nigeria to Elmont, so she had to adapt to a new country and make friends at an unfamiliar school that was locked down, like so much of the country.
She made friends by joining clubs and making a concerted effort to put herself out there. That was tough. Before moving to New York, she had been bullied by older students in Nigeria. The hardships that she faced inspired the book that she is currently working on, “Border Girl,” the title of which comes from Nwako’s experience with crossing the border from her Nigerian to American culture. The book shows Nwako’s life in Nigeria, both good and bad, and how her experiences in the West African nation shaped her into the person she is today.
The name Chiamaka means “God is good” and was gifted to her by her father. It is a common name among Nigerian girls. Nwako said she loves her Igbo culture, which includes grand weddings, a beautiful language and ankaras (a special style of your choice sewn into your clothes).
Among her favorite aspects of her culture is the clothing. She even wore a traditional African dress to her senior prom at Elmont High recently.
Nwako has loved to write stories, particularly science fiction, since she was a child. It is her way of exploring the world and reaching out to others. In college, she plans to major in nursing and minor in international relations, while continuing to write.
In addition to writing, she enjoys watching anime and reading in her free time. Personality-wise, she described herself as spontaneous, but she also likes to plan out her day. During school, she is focused on work, but over the summer she likes to relax.
No doubt, Nwako is a unique and determined individual who is ready to take on the world.