Passion turned into purpose


Isabelle Lisk, Staff Writer

For senior Niharika Singh, her non-profit organization was more than a way to give back to communities, it was a way to express herself.

OkToBeMe was truly started in 2010 to address bullying. Singh, throughout elementary and middle school, endured racist as well as microaggressive comments about herself and her culture, and for her OkToBeMe was a way to speak up about bullying. Even in the beginning years of the organization, Singh knew she wanted to create a safe space through her henna art designs and songs she composed herself for those who endured a similar situation. 

At the middle school Singh attended, there would be talent shows and events where students could display their passions. Singh took the opportunity to perform some of her songs to bring awareness to both bullying prevention and her organization. Unfortunately, students at her school began to mock her performance.

“I think I took their comments a little too much to heart,” Singh said, “which caused me to take a break from OkToBeMe, and direct my focus on academics for the rest of middle school.”

Once Covid-19 became a more pressing issue, it caused Lake Forest High School to shut down and go to online learning. Singh, with more time on her hands, decided to return to her non-profit organization, but to expand her purpose.

At the end of each month, she would donate to a charity that relates to some of the current events in order to broaden her “audience and cause.” She felt that more people would be able to create a form of connection or relation to Singh’s non-profit organization and their goals.

This goal of donating to a new charity each month has caused Singh to keep up with current events and research each charity carefully to make sure that they are not only credible, but have the intention she is looking to support. For example, after the July 4th Highland Park shooting, Singh sent the accumulation of July’s donations to Everytown, a nonprofit organization to end gun violence. In addition to donating to good causes, her intention is to educate people on both her culture and on current events. 

“By helping people become more open-minded while being able to educate people on my culture, it feels less like a hassle and more like a passion,” Singh said.