News Articles

SADD Student of the Year seizes witness opportunities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)–Traveling the nation as the 1997 National SADD Student of the Year has opened up many opportunities for Nikki Finch.
The title has taken Finch from Florida to Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to speak on panels for Students Against Destructive Decisions (formerly called Students Against Drunk Driving). She travels out of state one to two times a month for speaking engagements, in addition to visiting high schools in Tallahassee, where the Tampa native is an honors freshman pre-med student at Florida State University.
But the opportunity she values most is sharing her faith.
If she has to wait for a plane in an airport, she starts a conversation instead of starting a book. She makes an effort to get to know her roommate at a conference, even though she might never see that person again.
“I like to meet new people, tell them what I’m doing with SADD and witness for God,” Finch said. “It isn’t that I’m trying to tell people that I’m great, because I’m not. I’m trying to tell them that it’s God who is working in my life. He’s the One who is doing something great.
“God did all this,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine doing it on my own.”
Balancing her work with SADD and her studies is demanding, but Finch said she works well under pressure.
“I don’t have the attitude of kicking back and doing nothing my freshman year,” she said. “Then I wouldn’t be using my time and talents to the best of my ability and being effective for him.
“God always uses us in some way,” she said. “He’s given me a love for youth, for talking to them, educating them and in some way informing them about how to avoid destructive decisions in their lives. SADD teaches responsibility, and responsibility can save lives.”
Finch got involved in SADD as a high school freshman. Two years later, she was on SADD’s state advisory board and during her senior year she was president of her high school chapter. During that time, the chapter’s membership grew from 40 to 300.
She frequently speaks about membership recruitment techniques and about SADD’s expanded scope of concern to include such issues as suicide, HIV and AIDS, violence, drug use, drunk driving and aggressive driving.
G.W. Finch, Nikki’s brother, said no one in the family was surprised Nikki was named SADD Student of the Year.
“She’s really made a commitment to it,” he said. “I’m amazed that she can keep the energy she does but she loves what she’s doing.”
G.W., a junior engineering student at FSU, works with Nikki in the college’s foundation office.
“We’re a family of six children, so it’s good to have someone here to show me the ropes,” Nikki said.
Nikki has three brothers and two sisters. Her fraternal twin, Candi, is a student ministry assistant at the Finches’ church, First Baptist Church of Tampa.
“Nikki really believes in what she’s doing with SADD,” Candi said. “That’s why she can make a difference. Another reason is her faith. SADD has enabled her to witness for God.”
Candi, who is on a full scholarship at the University of South Florida in Tampa, is a leader in her own right, pursuing a career in full-time Christian service. Last year, she won the Florida Baptist discipleship training speakers’ tournament.
The twins attribute their leadership techniques to training received during Student Leadership University, a three-year program sponsored by the Jay Strack Evangelistic Association of Orlando.
“That’s where Nikki and Candi really learned what a leader is,” said J.J. Johnson, minister of youth for First Baptist, Tampa. Nikki had set a goal of becoming national SADD Student of the Year and she made it come true, he said.
“She was phenomenal as a student leader in ministry to the degree that I nicknamed her ‘Champ,’ Johnson recalled, “because it’s important to her to do her best in everything she does.”

    About the Author

  • Kristi Hodge