by LYDIA COBB | photos by Spark Photography

A Few of Her Favorite Things

Nikitha Gopal doesn’t just focus on one passion. She has three: singing, dancing, and playing golf. As a sophomore at Scripps Ranch High, life is about balancing her cultural pursuits. “I have been learning Indian classical singing (Carnatic) and dancing (Kathak) since I was six years old,” shared Nikitha. Her mom encouraged her to perform onstage at the age of two. By six, Nikitha added, “My mom wanted me to learn classical and traditional dance because I was always singing and dancing around the house.” Her onstage performances include Balboa Park’s December Nights, at the park’s Organ Pavilion, and as a recent performer at a gala in Virginia for The Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin.

student_gopal_1“Golf is different,” said Nikitha, because it didn’t come naturally. “Both my parents did not know anything about golf.” However, they supported her. Golf class was an after-school activity in third through eighth grade that a friend encouraged her to join. Nikitha started seriously playing golf by seventh grade. She’s now on the varsity golf team with impressive regional rankings. Nikitha reflected, “The hardest part of playing golf is not to get excited when you do well, or angry when you do poorly. You have to maintain a balanced state of mind.” When her golf ball hit a tree and then landed in the hole, it was a spark of motivation. A sign, maybe, that this was much more than a sport to Nikitha.

She’s a self-described carefree and relaxed teen, despite juggling diverse activities with the demands of school. Her favorite courses are math and AP Biology – so it is no surprise that her desired undergraduate major is Biotechnology. She’d like to play golf in college and ultimately in the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.

Scripps Highlands has been home her whole life. One of her favorite neighborhood gatherings is Movies in the Park each summer. Her family at home includes her parents, younger sister, and grandma. Both parents work, and Nikitha is glad her grandma is close by. She is equally inspired by her parents: her mother’s determination, her father’s optimism. They have helped her to believe in herself, to be a strong woman who follows her dreams. And that’s where Nikitha is now – singing, dancing, playing golf. Enjoying life to its fullest, with dreams of the future.


MEET NIKITHA

Name: Nikitha Vijayalaxmi Gopal (15)
School: Scripps Ranch High School
Grade: 10
Parents: Sarathy Gopal and Priya Gopal
Sibling: Sweta (10)
Favorite Local Spots: Edwards Mira Mesa theater, Yogurt Heaven