Breaking the stereotype of a nerd

Story by Autumn Sehy, Online Co-Editor in Cheif

Senior Gabriella Bermea sits in her bedroom. She’s surrounded by stacks of paper, one stack for each class. She’s flanked on the left by her Calculus homework, with Government on the right and Chemistry in the middle. Her family knows not to disturb her- she’s in her comfort zone.

Bermea is good at many things, whether it be school, tae kwon do, cheerleading, her social life or her newest endeavor, pageants. She wasn’t always this way, though. When she was younger, she focused solely on grades, caring nothing for how she looked. Things began to change when she started putting effort into her appearance.

“When I was younger I did not like to comb my hair,” Bermea said. “I would wear the most awful clothes and I don’t know why I did. It wasn’t until I got to middle school when I realized I could stop dressing like that and actually dress nicely. I always put grades first and then I did grades and appearance and it helped a lot. I was stereotyped a lot when I was younger just because of the way I dressed. When I changed then people stopped thinking that way about me.”

Throughout the years, Bermea has slowly come out of her shell and defied the nerd stereotype. Her first step was changing her appearance. She began fixing her hair and wearing new clothing. She’s not superficial, but dressing well makes her more comfortable with herself and more prepared for success.

“I really think that, whether or not people admit to it, that’s the first thing people see,” Bermea said. “They see it so they’re going to think it. If you’re going to a job interview or some kind of interview they’re going to look at your appearance first. They want to see what they have all around, not just ‘are they smart.”

Bermea’s need to do well in school is deep-rooted, however. Even though she is comfortable with doing things that don’t pertain to school, academics are still her top priority.

“School is always first,” Bermea said. “Anyone close to me will know that any free time I have [is dedicated to] schoolwork. I would consider myself a nerd. Not a typical nerd, but yes, a nerd.”

Her motivation is strong. Her grandparents had to make do with a fifth grade education, but that didn’t deter them from encouraging her to aim high. She also found a mentor in her former kindergarten teacher’s aide.

“When I was in kindergarten, and I remember this to this day, my kindergarten teacher’s aide came to my parent during a teacher’s conference and said “your daughter is going to go on to do things,” Bermea said. “She’s kept up with me and I’ve never found such motivation in a person. She has inspired me to do better.”

Since then, Bermea has tried to break the nerd stereotype. She doesn’t conform to what a nerd is supposed to be and does what she wants, such as the Miss THS Pageant. Her parents didn’t believe her at first when she told them she wanted to enter the pageant.

“I was totally out of my comfort zone,” Bermea said. “My parents laughed at me at first when I told them I wanted to try it. I’ve never been someone who has been judged based on anything other than my intellectual level and my accomplishments. It was something new.”

Bermea has learned from the pageant that venturing out of one’s comfort zone is an important part of life, even though it’s not always an easy thing to do.

“That’s where you find out the most about yourself, when you’re outside your comfort zone,” Bermea said. “So long as you’re in there [your comfort zone] all you’re ever going to be is in contempt with your life.”