CARSON CITY, Nev. -- A Carson High School student has one more thing to do before she graduates and it's to give back.
Seventeen-year-old Nicole Bertholf is an honor student. She studies hard and makes time for her friends, but you would never know this was the same girl just a year ago.
"I used to get bullied a lot when I was younger because neither of my parents had a job and so I didn't have new clothes so all of my stuff was really bad," Bertholf said.
The teasing shattered her self-esteem at an early age and she started to develop an eating disorder.
"Nobody knew about it...I was probably throwing up maybe 5 to 6 times a day and I was getting really thing," she said. "I didn't want another thing tacked on to 'oh you're poor, oh you're ugly, now you have an eating disorder' and that lasted until about last year...I couldn't do what I loved so I knew I had to change."
Now, she wants to channel her painful past into something positive so others won't have to travel the same path. Words can make a difference in the way people feel about themselves.
"I wore the same outfits a lot and people noticed and they bullied me for it," she said. "If you tell someone they are ugly enough, eventually they're going to start to believe it."
High school is a place where students can feel the safest, but it can also be a place where they can feel the most vulnerable.
"I do see some issues with our students as far as girls wanting to dress a certain way, look a certain way, feeling not comfortable with themselves 100 percent of the time," Angela Golnick, Bertholf's government teacher said.
For Nicole's final project in high school, she wanted to give back to a community that helped her when she needed it most.
"My mom was able to go to the Salvation Army that was close to us and she got a new outfit for us and she got a new job, so the Salvation Army has played a really big part in building up my self-esteem again," she said.
She pulled together a Self-Esteem Fashion Show to help raise money to help them buy clothes for children in poverty. Money went to the Salvation Army.
"Being able to give someone an outfit, they won't feel embarrassed, they won't feel different, they'll feel like everybody else," she said.
"As a community, we want to send this message to everyone. We love you for who you are and what you contribute to society, not what you look like," Golnick said.
After graduation, Nicole will be traveling to South Korea to teach English.