Student of the Week: Nair excelling in Quiz Bowl; making a difference through advocacy


Kyah Jones

Coppell High School junior Nikita Nair is very vehement about the extracurricular activities she is involved in. Nair has been participating in Quiz Bowl for about five years, is one of the few top ranking female players and actively serves the community.

Varshitha Korrapolu, Staff Writer

A strong, inherent desire for knowledge resonates with Coppell High School junior Nikita Nair. This drive had propelled her to discover Quiz Bowl, a game organized by National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT), during her time at Coppell Middle School West, which continues to satisfy her intrinsic curiosity about everything. 

“I had one of those situations where I felt like I was a fish out of water because I was one of those kids who did genuinely enjoy going to school and actually learning what we were doing in class,” Nair said. “Quiz Bowl gives me a really great outlet to put that desire for knowledge into so that I can go beyond what we learn in the classroom and see results from learning that.”

Initially, Nair did not expect that she would dedicate an immense amount of time and effort to these academic competitions. However, with her father Rajesh Gangadharan’s support, Nair embarked upon her journey of advancing through the levels of competition.

From watching TV shows, such as “Jeopardy” at home, Gangadharan and Nair believed that Quiz Bowl was an activity in which Nair would have great potential. 

“It was just a natural fit for her in terms of how she is as a person,” Gangadharan said. “You need to know a lot about current affairs, music, sports, history, geography and science. It’s not like the typical academic things you need to know about; it’s more than that.” 

In order to progress through Quiz Bowl, gain a good rank and eventually become one of the top players in Texas, Nair often watched other players during her initial interactions with the game. 

“There was a point where I saw these really great players and I thought, ‘Why can’t I be like that?’” Nair said. “That was all it took for me to push myself to get to the next level.” 

According to Nair, Quiz Bowl is a male dominated game which has led to the issue of sexism playing a role and causing hardship for several female players. In attempt to mitigate the severity of this problem, Nair created a social advocacy platform to help female Quiz Bowl players share their problems with others and help them understand that they are not alone. 

“One of the silver linings about this pandemic is that I’ve been able to interact with this online community of Quiz Bowl players,” Nair said. “People have gone through this, it gets better. I just have to keep pushing, and I have to make a name for myself. Even if it doesn’t make a tremendous difference in 10,000 people’s lives, it can [make] a difference for one person and that’s what it takes for me to keep [running the social advocacy platform].” 

Being one of the only top female players at a state level, Nair has set a standard for female players across the state. According to Nair, winning is not the only aspect she considers, it’s the statement that she is making that matters most. 

“Some mom came up to me and said, ‘my son was playing, but I was really rooting for you’,” Nair said. “And that was always just a crazy feeling to me. I think that’s what pushes me also, to talk to these younger players, to be a role model for them and show them that despite what your gender is, what you identify as, you can still succeed in this game if you do the hard work it requires.” 

In addition to playing quiz bowl, Nair is also part of the Coppell Academic Decathlon honors team and several community service related clubs such as Leo Club and National Spanish Honor Society (NSHS). Even though the activities that Nair is involved in are diverse, the same mentality is prevalent: a natural sense of leadership. 

“No matter what she does, I see her leading activities in whatever form of work she takes on,” Gangadhran said. “Outside of that, I see her being involved in community building, community supporting, upliftment type of activities. I think that’s where she’s headed and I see her doing both of those things very well.”

CHS junior Poojitha Diggikar, Nair’s friend from Coppell Middle School West, has been playing quiz bowl alongside Nair since ninth grade. Diggikar’s bond with Nair is unique as they share several common interests.  

“[Nair is] passionate because in all her efforts, whether they be academic or outside of school, she has never failed to show passion or dedication towards what she pursues,” Diggikar said. 

From competing in quiz bowl tournaments to hosting food drives and serving the community, Nair puts her best foot forward with a compassionate smile and bold attitude. 

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