by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Spark Photography

Student Star Nyiah Bollinger Sets Her Dreams High and Does Not Hold Back

Competing in national pageants, running 5K and 10K races, and having a day named after you all before you hit double digits? Meet student star Nyiah Bollinger, an eight-year-old resident of Scripps Ranch, a student at Jerabek Elementary, and a National Cover Model.

student1While Nyiah’s resume certainly outweighs her years, her favorite things indicate she has not missed any beat of her childhood. Her favorite part of school? “I like recess because I get to play with my friends,” Nyiah acknowledged. In the classroom, science has the strongest appeal, “because I like making things like moon dust!” she exclaimed.

The pageants were not an immediate draw for Nyiah and her family. She admitted, “We received a letter in the mail saying someone had recommended me. My dad threw it away the first time.” When the second letter came, though, Nyiah’s mom took her to the open call. Nyiah was immediately drawn to the dresses and the girls, while her mother appreciated the focus on confidence. “So far I have competed in the California state pageant two times, and this was my first year to go to the Nationals pageant,” she explained. Though it was her first year, she excelled in the competition and was crowned the 2015-2016 National Cover Model.

It isn’t only the judges who have been taking note of Nyiah. The San Diego Board of Supervisors has honored Nyiah’s success, naming September 15, 2015 as Nyiah Bollinger Day across San Diego. The success is even more notable because of Nyiah’s nonverbal learning disorder (NLD). “My brain works a little differently than most. NLD is a rare learning disorder that only affects one percent of other children,” she explained.

“So far I have competed in the CA state pageant two times, and this was my first year to go to the Nationals pageant.”

Looking ahead, Nyiah dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day, inspired by the vet who helped her dog Riley survive an extra three years with cancer. She also looks to her cousin, Lacey, as inspiration, “because she is a model and she needs confidence to do what she does,” Nyiah explained. No doubt, Nyiah will continue on her bright path. “My parents named me Nyiah, which means dreamer!”

Name: Nyiah Rae Bollinger (8)
School: Jerabek Elementary
Grade: 3
Parents: Richard and Marlayna Bollinger
Favorite Place in 92131: Lakeview Park