The Ross School’s Nina Damiecki transitioned from student to alumni earlier this month. After attending Ross for 16 years, she’ll head to Washington D.C. to attend George Washington University.
Damiecki’s experience at Ross is not unlike most students there. “Ross pushes the boundaries for students and allows them to explore their passions,” she says. “I was able to take so many electives like photography, screenwriting and writing for children’s books. Being able to do and learn what you want is beautiful and a lot of other schools wouldn’t allow that sort of learning.”
Every year students from the Ross School present their Senior Projects, the culmination of their learning experiences at Ross. Students are able to embody their passions in a process while gaining a deeper insight to themselves as they enter into the real world. “The senior projects give us the opportunity to educate one another about what we love. Everyone here is willing to learn and willing to work together,” says Damiecki.
“Kind of The Jam” was the feature of Damiecki’s senior project. A script for a television pilot for her sitcom entitled “Kind of Punk,” the story follows five teenagers: Sylvia, Kat, Philip, Declan and Sid. They live in a vacation town in Massachusetts. The characters navigate complicated issues including gender, sexuality, and ethnicity through the medium of punk music. “I structured my potential television series — and the pilot script — around these issues due to the lack of Asian representation in Western media, as well as my personal experiences as a Chinese girl adopted and raised by American parents.”
But this project is bigger than a pilot script or a television series. Damiecki also focused on the lack of minority representation in the media in general and the issues of micro-aggression and whitewashing in people’s everyday lives. “Minorities can no longer be silenced. There is still institutional racism. We see it and don’t do anything about it. I’m a part of a silent minority, and I want to be louder,” says Damiecki. “Whitewashing and institutionalized racism won’t end in the years to come, but the only way that we can start to get more Asian exposure, or exposure of people of color, is if we fight for it.”
Damiecki takes inspiration from a wide array of sources from music icon John Lennon to her young friend, Emmy. “John Lennon protested and advocated to make the world a better place,” she says.
He was able to make his dream into a reality. My friend Emmy who, like myself, is an adopted Asian girl and she’s seven. I want her to learn to be fearless in the challenges that she’ll face over the years; ones that I’ve not faced as well as I hoped I could have.”
In Washington D.C. Damiecki looks forward to learning more about the film industry, which she hopes to later work in. “D.C. is where activism takes place, where you can make a statement and where there’s more opportunity to do more important things,” she says.
Damiecki hopes to create some sort of outreach program to help other young girls dealing with identity questions, potentially a blog. “I want a place where people aren’t afraid to express their concerns. A place where people feel comfortable to reach out and learn to be proud of who they are.”