Our People, Their Stories | Honoring AAPI Heritage Month – Nikki Hamzaeff

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we are proud to offer our platforms to our team members as they share their stories in their own unique voices. Today, we are pleased to feature Nikki Hamzaeff, our District Marketing Manager for California and Colorado.

“I grew up in Sonoma, California in a culturally rich family upbringing (I’m tri-racial – Chinese, Assyrian, and Russian). Everything centered around family first and the dinner table. Both of my parents worked long hours in San Francisco, so I was lucky enough to have my grandmother, who was born in China and lived in the city, take care of me. This exposed me to my heritage and our culture from a very young age—an experience I value to this day. I was taught to make my mark on this world, and I still strive for that daily.

My parents were a huge encouragement to me. They worked so hard for me to have the life I did, but also pushed me from a young age to go after what I wanted. My mother and father are the hardest working individuals I know, but my grandparents were truly inspirational – on my mother’s side starting over from China, and my father’s side who came to the United States from Baghdad. They all came with nothing except the sole purpose to have a better life and raise their families. ­­

When I was applying for college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My mother pushed me to go into business because she felt that if anything, it was a good fall back and I was sure to find something I enjoyed. She was right. I fell in love with marketing and when I graduated from Cal Poly, SLO, I started working in the marketing department for campus dining at Cal Poly. As I got comfortable in my role as an entry-level marketer, my boss at the time urged me to explore graphic design, which I am forever thankful for. I worked tirelessly at learning the trade and started freelancing in design and marketing while I worked at Cal Poly for the local community in San Luis Obispo. 10 years later, I found myself with the opportunity to start working with Chartwells and here I am today. It was the perfect next step, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to grow with such an incredible team and com­­pany.

I spend most of my free time cooking and exploring the cuisine of different cultures and crafting charcoal art. I’m a creator at heart, so anything I can make with my hands that brings happiness to others or inspires them is right up my alley. I also love to spend time with my dog Harley, who I would never be forgiven for if I didn’t mention!”