Class of 2014’s Dombrowski receives $20,000 Katherine Wickle-Ochipa Scholarship

Creator of GHG Club visits alma mater to speak to members


Nikki Dombrowski presents two deserving seniors with the Katherine Wickle-Ochipa Scholarship before receiving an unexpected scholarship of her own.

A Becton Regional High School graduate and founder of the school’s Girls Helping Girls Club, Nikki Dombrowski, returned to her alma mater four years later to speak to the group’s current members about her impressive amount of volunteer experience while attending the University of Delaware.

One week later, while presenting a scholarship at the school’s annual Senior Awards Ceremony to two deserving seniors on behalf of Katherine Wickle-Ochipa, Nikki was surprised to receive a 20,000 dollar scholarship from Katherine Wickle-Ochipa of her own to use toward graduate school.

Dr. Sforza meets Nikki on stage to hand over her $20,000 scholarship.

“I would like to personally thank Nikki for starting one of the most popular clubs at Becton,” stated Principal Dr. Sforza who presented her with the scholarship. He then went on to explain that because Nikki spearheaded GHG, a club that empowers and educates females, co-directed UDance, which raised over two million dollars this year alone to help fund research for childhood cancer, and is regularly helping others, she is receiving the financial award.

“You are continuing in Katherine Wickle-Ochipa’s legacy and she’s looking down at you with a smile,” continued the Becton principal.

Nikki and her proud parents after she received her scholarship

As a high school student, Nikki said she was a victim of bullying despite people assuming that she “had it all”and lived a seemingly happy life. Therefore, she decided to take action by pitching the idea for a club that supports females and motivates them to become involved in volunteer work and partake in community service.

“You can’t help the world until you help yourself,” she told GHG members on May 29. What inspired Nikki to begin this club was her drive and determination to not only help others, but also help other people help others.

Nikki speaks to the current members of Becton’s GHG Club.

A fundraiser that she recalls working on while in high school was a project where club members filled plastic baby bottles with donations and presented all of the proceeds to teen moms staying in shelters. She also informed today’s club members of the various projects she organized that raised awareness of human trafficking.

Although at the time the club was Nikki’s first major volunteer project that she had been a part of, her work did not stop there. During her college career, the young woman was also a major asset to UDance, a year-long program hosted annually at the University of Delaware that raises awareness for children who have cancer. UDance is a product of the Be Positive Foundation, which was created by a parent whose child passed away from pediatric cancer. Nikki has served on the executive board for the program trhoughout all four years of college. She worked on the Campus Engagement Team for three years and became one of the team’s two leaders during her fourth year at the university. She elaborated that her duties were to set up meetings every week with representatives that wished to support the program. Nikki told the girls that this year alone, UDance has raised over two million dollars during a philanthropic twelve-hour dance marathon. Because the university hosts the event, children who have cancer visit and are paired up with UD students. “They act as big brothers and sisters for these children,” she told the Becton girls.

Nikki Dombrowski and Becton’s current GHG Club

During the meeting, the Becton graduate went on to list a few of her proudest accomplishments to illustrate that there are multiple ways that people can get involved within their community and make a difference in people’s lives. One of Nikki’s first experiences in community service during college was when she held an event in her residence hall to raise bullying awareness. College students ate breakfast together and painted their nails blue, the color that symbolizes anti-bullying. Nikki also traveled to Washington D.C. with her classmates to help out at a preschool whose children were residing in shelters. Volunteers provided three meals a day for the kids and offered cooking, computer, and other classes for the homeless families. She explained that “it wasn’t just doing a service, it was also a lot of reflection” for her.

Additional community service experiences that Nikki completed took place during a four-month trip to Italy as part of a study abroad program and also while staying in Orland, Maine. She secured an internship with the Fresh Air Fund in New York City as well where she helped pair children who were signed up to spend the summer with families in the city with their temporary homes.

During her junior year at the university, she also became a peer mentor to incoming freshmen and was even asked to teach a life skills class at her school. She taught the teenagers about safe dating, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and introduced them to college life. 

Pullquote Photo

True success is when your passions intersect with the needs of the world.”

— Nikki Dombrowski, Class of 2014

After discussing how she chose to help others, Nikki offered advice to the girls about how they can do the same. “Don’t let the world harden you,” she told them and explained how the bullying that she endured made her a stronger person. Furthermore, she reminded the members to be friends with one another and to uplift not just fellow women but fellow people in general.

The college graduate continued to mention that part of her newfound happiness is the friends that she made at the University of Delaware. In high school, Nikki never had a true best friend, but growing up and experiencing life away from home allowed her to make her circle even bigger. “Surround yourself with good people. I have had the best four years of my life in college, and it’s because of the people that I’ve surrounded myself with.” She advised the girls to consider who they spend their time with while in high school and decide if these people are beneficial or harmful to their well being and growth.

When asked what the hardest part about moving on from high school to college was, Nikki responded that it was the transition from such a small-town school to a large university. While Becton hosted only approximately five hundred students when she attended, the University of Delaware was home to almost twenty thousand. “There is so much more than what we know here,” she said, referring to how limited her knowledge of the outside world was before attending college, “and true success is when your passions intersect with the needs of the world.”