Nikka Ewing Spotlight

WITI News Staff

July 25, 2023

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As a kid, there was always a part of me that had a grave interest in technology. In the early 2000s, I discovered a show called “Robot Wars” that ultimately changed my life. The show featured everyday people like myself building these amazing mini machines that would go toe to toe with other contestant machines. Seeing these contestants have the ability to create these machines was the turning point for me. When I made my decision to go back to college, I knew being in the technology realm wouldn’t be easy. However, I also knew that aside from my fears, this would be a great opportunity to learn new things while following my dreams. In my first year at DeVry University, it was important for me to be involved as much as possible. After doing some research on groups in the technology field it was recommended to me that I look into the Women+Tech Scholars Program™. Having the word “women” in the program drew me closer to knowing more. I knew that it would be a great fit for me as it involved with other women like myself who held an admiration for technology. With technology being such a male-dominated industry, it was important for me to associate myself with these powerful women to do some great things in the future of tech more specifically in Engineering.

Q: How do you balance your work life and home life?

A: Honestly, saying “NO” played a major part in how I balance the two. When I first began here at DeVry, I felt like I was all over the place. However, after having the worst week on the planet, I decided it was time for some balance. One of the things I discovered was how unwilling I had become to say “no.” What this meant was having the ability to say “no” to anything that disrupted my schedule for the day/week. Whether it was someone who wanted to hang out, help someone move a couch, babysit my friend’s dog, or help my mom paint her grass, everything was a big fat-- though very loving-- “NO!”

Q: What was the best advice you ever got?

A: “Those things you’re going through had a purpose bigger than your tears. If you can get better and not bitter, you will find out that it was scheduled and not intentional.” WHOA! These words changed everything within my life. It spoke so strongly to me as it came at such a traumatic time in my life. So, for me, I knew it would be foolish of me to not acknowledge. As human beings, when things go wrong in life, we handle them emotionally instead of logically. We spend so much time on those emotions that it consumes us, turning us into angry bitter people. While in this state, nothing gets accomplished. However, when we take a step back, assess the situation, and look at the bigger picture, we’re better equipped to handle our situations so much easier. I appreciate this question as it couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you for the question! It’s such a relatable message that had to be shared with anyone willing to listen.

Q: What do you read or listen to for fun and inspiration?

A: For me, music is always my go to for fun and inspiration. It is the only thing that can speak to me in a language that only we (myself and the music) understand. My routine is to throw my headphones on and go wherever the music takes me. I feel that music acts as a soothing mechanism for anyone no matter what the genres are.

Q: What was your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?

A: A major obstacle I overcame was commitment! Committing to school after spending 10 years plus out �"of school and having two small children was harder than I thought. I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to focus after having so much freedom with my time. Later, I realized how much this commitment obstacle had been truly affecting me aside from school. Once I became aware of my inability to commit, it was imperative that I made a much-needed change in my journey. Aside from reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts (believe it or not) on this subject, I truly believe that my determination to prove myself wrong accompanied me in overcoming this obstacle. It’s something about proving your fears wrong that makes you feel like you can do anything!

Q: If you could start over, what would you do differently?

A: Absolutely NOTHING! Honestly, although I felt that life had put me through the ringer, I wouldn’t change anything about it. The way I see it, had I finished school 10 years ago, I guarantee my degree would’ve been in a subject that wouldn’t have been beneficial to my current journey.

Q: What books are on your nightstand?

A: Right now, on my nightstand I have three books that I’m reading. The first book is “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” by Lindsay C. Gibson. The second book is “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. The final book is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. The first book by Lindsay Gibson is feeding the mom in me to become a better mom as well as human. Not only that, but it is also teaching me how to become more emotionally mature while being more aware. The second book by Chris Voss feeds my entrepreneurial soul by teaching me a lot about not settling for anything. In my opinion, this book educates its readers on how to determine what is truly negotiable/non-negotiable. “Atomic Habits” is showing me a few ways to reframe from the need to allow detrimental habits to hold me back. That is important as it is another factor in my ability to overcome my commitment anxiety.

Q: Who is your hero and why?

A: I would say my hero is myself. As humans, it is often easier to show love to others before we show love to ourselves. Everything that defines the word “hero” I believe best describes me. Having the ability to overcome some of life’s toughest struggles while still moving forward are hero traits in my opinion.

Q: Success to me is defined as any challenge you’ve overcome whether large or small. If you can muster the courage to go after something that possessed a challenge to you is success. Often, when we’re faced with challenges, the easy thing to do is ignore them. However, if you can go after that challenge and tackle it head on, that’s success!

Q: How many choices do you feel were your own? What were they?

A: All my choices were my own whether good or bad. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that we all have a choice. As I see it, it’s about if were prepared to handle the actions of that choice. I try to really understand the pros and cons of my choice. This way, no matter the outcome, I am confident in my decision. For instance, my choice to return to college was of my own. After careful consideration of the pros and cons of returning to college, I was confident in my choice.

Q: Have you reached your full potential? What has held you back from reaching your full potential?

A: Not at all, as far as I’m concerned, I am just getting started in growing to my full potential. In the past, an abundance of fears kept me from my growth. Fear of rejection, acceptance, and confidence were among some of the more serious things that were hovering over me. It has cost me so many great opportunities, that looking back, I was not mentally mature enough to handle it.

Q: Where do you see feminine influence in the workplace today?

A: A beautiful thing I love about today’s influences are not only how on the rise women have become in certain fields but also how dope they have been at succeeding in MALE dominated fields. When I started in the tech field, I feared that I wouldn’t match up to my male counterparts. It was my long-time best friend who changed my perspective. As an African American woman in a predominately male trade, such as sheet metal, she would always share her experiences with me. At times, I would often find myself suggesting to her to let it go. However, each time she would reiterate to me why she wouldn’t give up. As her friend, I began to feel terrible with myself for even wanting her to give up. With that in mind, I decided to take a step back and completely process what she had been sharing with me. Her determination to alter the way women are perceived, treated, accepted in trade and her advocacy for women in trades were super inspirational. Today, she’s still killing the game as a 1st year apprentice doing better than most of the male counterparts gracefully. It was her feminine influence that gave me the courage to keep moving forward.

Q: Is perfection possible?

A: Absolutely not! Anyone who states otherwise must be a magical person who I am not quite ready to meet yet. Lol

Q: How do you take your whole self to work?

A: I don’t! I can’t! I will NEEEVVER! Personally, I think bringing your whole self into something you have no plan on fully committing to is unhealthy. It is my belief that work is not something that anyone should be fully committed to. When it comes to the workplace, the only portion of me that is important at that time is the portion that is necessary for the task, in this case that task is work. Once work is complete, I put that hat up in my office and change back into MY hat as I proceed out the door. Funny thing, now while I am not certain of the writer’s intent, I always thought “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (the television show) alluded to this exact theory. Mister Rogers would come in singing (maintaining his joy), he would then sit down to remove his shoes (his personal choice, while continuing to sing), then change into his other shoes (work shoes). This would carry on until Mister Rogers had fully changed from his personal attire to his work attire. I felt he knew how important it was to separate work from personal life. For me, the ability to keep the two separate helps with mental health for any profession.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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