Leading with confidence

Nadia Gompers is not an inspiration. She’s a high school freshman from Calvert County who loves riding horses, playing on her phone late at night, and watching Judge Judy re-runs with her dad. In fact, she says, “People tell me that I’m an inspiration, and I don’t feel good when they tell me that because I’m just normal.”

At a young age, Nadia knew that her disability is part of who she is, but it is not her identity. She is not impressive because she has cerebral palsy but rather because she has a kind heart, ambition, and confidence. Nadia jumps at opportunities that many would shy away from. She does modeling, acting, and part-time consulting with fashion brands to improve adaptive clothing lines­­—and she doesn’t plan to stop there.

Nadia’s parents were hesitant to take her out of public school when she was struggling. She had her group of friends, a routine, and on top of that, MSB would be a 3-hour round-trip bus ride. When they toured MSB, Nadia noticed that no one was staring at her the way they did in her previous school. To everyone here, she was just a normal kid. Her mom was immediately impressed by the technology lab, the physical therapy staff with in-depth knowledge of cerebral palsy, and how easily Nadia could navigate the campus without assistance. Where she had been the “crazy mom” in other schools advocating for better services, everyone at MSB understood exactly what their family needed. She says, “Every kid deserves to be in an environment where they can reach their full potential,” MSB was that environment for Nadia.

Since joining MSB in 6th grade, Nadia’s confidence has sky-rocketed. In three short years, she’s gone from having trouble talking to close family members to speaking at a recent Groundbreaking Ceremony with an audience of over 100 people last month. She has advocated for herself to join the MSB residential program to live on campus during the week. Her parents were so impressed by her initiative and reasoning, but they were nervous about how much they would miss her. Nadia pushed them; she said it would help improve her social skills and independence. They say she was also aiming for a few extra hours of sleep without a long bus ride. What teenager wouldn’t jump at that opportunity?

Nadia now shares a dorm with five other girls where they take turns creating after-school activities to do together like painting and pumpkin carving. She joined the school’s chapter of Ruling Our Experiences (ROX), a staff-led group that “creates generations of confident girls who control their own relationships, experiences, decisions and futures.” She hopes to be a psychiatrist who helps teens in juvenile centers one day. She says, “The kids seem like they want help. They know they can do better, but they just need a push to help them.” Nadia recognizes through her own experiences that you can do a whole lot with a little bit of help.