DALLAS — Nahla Hamilton was in her second year at Dallas High School before she discovered the value of being involved.
Once she learned that, the senior didn’t look back.
Hamilton will graduate with Dallas’ Class of 2019 on Friday, and says her four years at DHS has prepared her for her next step: attending Portland State University studying political science.
It started with joining the yearbook staff her sophomore year.
“When I was a freshman, I didn’t really think they (extra activities) were important and didn’t really ever want to go,” she said. “That’s one of my biggest regrets in high school, because I was the pessimistic teen. I was like ‘I’m not doing that. I’d rather go home’ and I didn’t go to things.”
She said working for yearbook forced her to attend events to cover them.
“I started going, and it’s actually fun seeing things, being around people. … You get to be there when our sports teams win a game, or something major happens, you get to be there. That’s one of the reasons I love yearbook. You get to capture important moments in time.”
This year, she was one of three co-editors for the yearbook. She’s also the secretary of the school’s Interact Club, the youth branch of Rotary, and the sergeant-at-arms of the National Honor Society.
Her involvement gave her chances to volunteer and help others, which has been rewarding, she said. Through Interact, Hamilton has volunteered for the Dallas Food Bank and James2 Kitchen.
“It just opens up your mind. At a young age, you know sometimes you are not really exposed to a lot,” Hamilton said. “Doing these things has really helped me branch out and keep an open mind, and just be more understanding and compassionate. I think that is important.”
The lessons learned through volunteering has become her inspiration for her major in college.
“I really, I’ve kind of found my calling, I think, here, doing all these things and being involved in the community and helping people out,” she said. “It kind of sounds cheesy, but I think I’ve found my calling through that. It makes you feel good knowing that you are helping other people and you are making a difference. I think political science would be an awesome spot for me.”
DHS Principal Steve Spencer said Hamilton’s drive to serve shows in her actions.
“She is the unsung-hero kid of this building. She doesn’t bring a lot of attention to herself or to the things that she does, but is at everything taking pictures for yearbook,” Spencer said. “She’s a genuinely nice kid that you don’t doubt will go on and do great things.”
One of Hamilton’s final achievements, the 2019 yearbook, arrived last week.
“Oh, my little baby. It’s been baking for a year and it’s finally here,” she said, smiling.
This year, Hamilton and her co-editors built the book around the theme “End of an Era” for the senior class. She said the Class of 2019 is smaller than other recent classes, and is close. She said that’s a trait of Dallas she loves. She feels like the students in the class grew up together, and the teachers and counselors were there to guide them on the way.
“I’m definitely going to be missing that when I head off to Portland,” she said.
That said, Hamilton believes her time at Dallas has prepared her for what is next.
“I’m really excited to see what happens in my future and what’s to come,” she said.