Most girls don’t experience their first heartbreak until high school. Nikole’s heart was broken much earlier. She was born to an alcoholic mother and an absent father, who gave her up to relatives when she was just five years old. The trauma of her early years left her self-confidence shattered. When she came to Boys Town, her guard was up, and she resisted all help from her Family-Teachers. Over time, Nikole began to feel at home and eventually recognized that she had become part of a real family. Since then, Nikole has been a successful student, athlete, and leader. Her confidence is back, her heart is strong, and she looks forward to a happy, healthy life.
Watch Nikole's Story
Nikole – I was born Dec 3, 2001 in Gillette, Wyoming to a mother who was always intoxicated and a father who was always working. At the age of three my father left my mother took me with him and remarried instantly. My stepmom didn't know there was a difference between discipline and beating. And she sure didn't understand that children needed to be fed. By the age of 5 I was removed from their care and my aunt and uncle took me in. Most girls can look back and say their first heartbreak was some high school boy who only took them on one date. Mine was my father. I was a little kid who just wanted the one person in the world who should love you to love me.
It was my first heartbreak. It's what drives me now today even of the perfectionism and the needing to prove myself, and it's what made me... And it made me so hard on myself. And it made me so hard on myself. It's what drove me to think, "I'm not good at this. I'm not worth it." But now it's what drives me to say, Yeah, I am. Even if he gave me up, the one person that's supposed to love you, your parents, gave you up and you're still super successful, you're still striving with perfect grades and things like that. You're doing really well. I mean, what else is there?
Roberto: Her story and the things that she had to experience and overcome, and deal with at such a young age are things that you'd never wish on anybody. And they do create lasting trauma.
Nikki: I was in a really bad state of mind. I didn't want the help. Anything, anyone for authority could say to me, I wasn't having it. I fought the system. I didn't wanna be here and I was determined to make that known to everybody.
Leslie: Nikki was a frustrated young kiddo. And she just was trying to navigate her world that just seemed like it was in turmoil and so much change constantly happening around her. And she was just struggling to find her way through it.
Nikole: So I was in the home for the waiting period to see where I was gonna go next. And sitting there at their kitchen table filling out a skill work and things like that, focusing on my own skills that I needed to work on, I remember watching them interact with their kids and how much it just felt like a home. It was the first time that I actually sat there and was like, "Okay, this isn't just a placement. I'm here because I did something wrong. Why does this look like a family? Like, I wanna be part of that. I wanna be a part of that."
Nikole: My favorite thing about Boys Town is how much you can get involved in a whole bunch of different things. Like, I'm in music, sports and leadership roles.
In May, I will be graduating Boys Town and I got a scholarship opportunity to Peru State here in Nebraska. And I will be starting my English degree there for high school students.
I'm hoping to be an English teacher in a smaller town where there's kind of gonna be with that kid through the whole high school experience.
Leslie: I think she sees the value in just leading by doing the right thing and just helping somebody else's road be a little bit smoother or just feel heard. And I think that's what drives her.
Nikole: Before Boys Town, I was scared of the world, but also clinging to the stubbornness that, I have myself, I can do this. I don't need anybody else. Thirteen years old, that's not accurate. And so, going from that mindset to now at Boys Town, it's realizing that, Yeah, I have a whole bunch of people behind me and in front of me, and to my left and right, everywhere." No matter where I go, I have someone who's gonna be there to help me.