Ishta Nabakka ’23 on Turning Ideas into Action, Finding Belonging at Scripps

By Lauren Mar ’25

During The Giving Season at Scripps, we’re highlighting student leaders like Ishta (she/they) as they share how their Scripps experience helped them use their voice and act on new ideas.

Ishta Nabakka ’23 visited Scripps for the first time three years ago through the College’s fly-in program, an event that brings historically underrepresented students to campus for a taste of college life. She felt Scripps’ inviting ambience right away.

“I really liked the students and professors that I met and the College’s atmosphere,” they say.  “It just seemed like a place which could be a home for the next four years.”

Before visiting, Nabakka was already active as a QuestBridge Scholar, a scholarship network that connects high-achieving students with limited financial resources with partner colleges and universities. While Nabakka says she initially did not think of attending a women’s college, her experience interacting with Scripps’ community members compelled her to rank it as her first choice.

Now back on campus, Nabakka cites the pandemic as her greatest growing period, and attributes this to support from Scripps’ community. “A lot of my growth has to do with my professors,” they say. “And the students that come here—and the honest conversations I’ve had with them—have helped me develop in a lot of ways. I’ve been encouraged to be excited and passionate, and I have the outlets here to express that.”

One of these outlets came through a donor-funded We Act Grant given by Scripps’ Laspa Center for Leadership for a project Nabakka tackled in summer 2020. Intended to support self-designed projects that transform knowledge, passion, and ideas into action to produce a positive impact, Nabakka recalls she was told she could “make this project whatever you want it to be; take it in any direction.” With this autonomy, the philosophy and humanities major built a tiny house as an exploration of providing resources for individuals affected by homelessness.

“It was nice to just have the resources for something I wanted to do,” they explain. “I felt that my ideas were validated and worth exploring.”

Because of these Scripps experiences and the inspiring impact of professors at The Claremont Colleges, Nabakka plans to become a professor of philosophy and extend the same support to others in the future. This is something donors can influence by giving, she notes, to programs like scholarships and We Act Grants—and by doing so, expand opportunities for a greater diversity of students.

“When I was visiting different colleges and seeing the student body, I was trying to figure out: Do I feel like I fit in here? Do I feel like I have a community here and people to fall back on?” Nabakka reflects. “Having more people of color or those with marginalized identities, and the resources to support us, helps me feel like this is a space in which I belong.”

Now through December 31, we invite Scripps College alums, parents, and friends to make a gift to set students like Julia up for success in 2022. To give today, please click here. Thank you for your support!