After enduring severe bullying through middle and high school, Long Island native Mackenzie Gavel, 20, is doing everything she can to help kids cope with the stress of it all.  Her blog, “Belittle the Bullies” is aimed at teaching kids that character outweighs popularity any day, and that as long as you stay true to who you are as a person, you’ve already achieved something pretty special.  Though she will graduate from N.Y.U. in May with a degree in journalism and psychology, the world still holds a lot of uncertainties for Gavel.  One thing is certain, however, she wants to continue writing.

Bullying becomes a blog: The main focus of my blog is to get these kids to understand that it’s more about having great integrity and great heart, and that’s what makes great character.  I think it’s really important to have these kids understand the famous hash tag on Twitter that “love is louder and that it’s important to embrace everything about yourself and be happy with who you are, and not live according to anyone else’s standards.

Bad enough to move: When I was at a private Catholic middle school, it was so bad that I begged my mom to move us a different town.  We did end up moving, but it was also a time in my parent’s life when they wanted a house on the water, and they were able to do that at that time.

The cruelty: The bullying was mostly verbal.  For instance, a girl would act like she was my best friend, and when I’d go to sit with her in the cafeteria, all the girls would move to a different table.  Someone took a “Thomas the Tank Engine” sticker and put in on my backpack to try to embarrass me.  As I got older I had girls who would spread lies about me to the boys I liked, or would try to tell my closest friends that I wasn’t who I seemed.

A lending hand: I think what changed me was my English teacher in ninth grade, Mr. Kondrich; he really saw something in me.  He came up to me at the end of the year with a copy of Jane Eyre, and on the inside he had written a lovely letter that I based part of my college essay on, where he said that one day I would find the courage to voice the words that he knew were inside my head, and that when I did that I would be unstoppable.  I am still trying to live up to those words.

Literary soul mate: I love Holden Caulfield.  I read him for the first time in 11th grade, and I just related so much to his “screw the world” attitude.  I really liked that he wasn’t ashamed of who he was.  There was a part of him still trying to hold on to his naiveté, which I think we all need to hold onto to keep us sane.

Support from home: My mom is probably my best friend to date.  She knows everything about me.

Why journalism: I started journalism as one of those people who was told she was a good writer and didn’t know what to do when she got into college. I like speaking my mind about things. I like feeling like I can be an advocate.

Musical identity: I think music’s a pretty easy way to figure out who you are.  I try to always pair a posting with a song, and relate them together.  Contrary to N.Y.U.’s main genres, I listen to a lot of Nickleback, Bush, Seether.  I listen to what people define as “angry music,” but I define it as “music with a purpose.”

Trying out PR: Going into a public relations firm that’s based in fashion you never know what to expect; it’s either a lot of very stuck up people or people who are just in it to get ahead.  But at Factory PR [a fashion communications agency], I’ve never felt more like myself in the first day.

Born in the wrong era: I would love to have been born in the Romantic period.  I would be happy sitting at my desk, huddled over a piece of paper, writing down all of my thoughts from the day, or writing a random story.

Kindred with a burrito:  It’s partially because I love Mexican food, but it’s a lot of random combinations rolled into one.  I’m a scatterbrain; I’m all over the place.  I start a bunch of projects I never finish, but if I am passionate about something I can ramble on about it forever.


Written by Marie Southard