First-year wins international award for anti-bullying work

Photo by Li Qin ’21  Emily Wolman ’22 was awarded a Posse Scholarship and a Diana Award.

Photo by Li Qin ’21

Emily Wolman ’22 was awarded a Posse Scholarship and a Diana Award.

BY LILY REAVIS ’21

Growing up in Miami, Florida, Emily Wolman ’22 experienced verbal and emotional bullying online and in-person. In response, she founded an anti-bullying initiative called Students That Offer Peace (STOP).

“I did get bullied, in 10th grade, and I felt alone during that period,” Wolman said. “So, I founded STOP so that no one else would feel alone.” The club grabbed the attention of students and faculty and eventually won Wolman the Posse Scholarship and the Princess Diana Award.

The program continues to exist in Wolman’s high school, even though she has moved on to college. After founding the club and serving as president her senior year, Wolman graduated and passed the leadership of the club on to underclassmen.

Wolman’s goal in creating STOP was to make high school a safe place for all students. Through the program, she led anti-bullying workshops and lessons. “One of the activities, as silly as it may sound, was with a piece of paper,” Wolman said. She led the student group through crumpling up a single sheet of paper, insulting it and throwing it at the ground.

Once her classmates picked up the paper again she would say, “Try telling the paper you’re sorry for what you did.’” The students would apologize to the pieces of paper, but the wrinkles and creases remained on the pages.

The purpose of the activity was to demonstrate to STOP members the lasting impact words can have on other people. “No matter if you apologize, being mean to someone is going to affect them,” Wolman said. Just as the wrinkles remained on the page, the damage of bullying continues to affect the victims.

Wolman attended Miami Arts Studio @ Zelda Glazer, a public magnet school focusing on the arts. According to the school’s website, it strives to “create an enthusiastic and exciting learning environment where all students learn the value of critical thinking and the arts.” Additionally, the school claims to “create a place for the arts and a home for the artist.” The school is divided into programs for students with different interests to foster these interests and community with other students.

It was in the school’s Entertainment Law program that Wolman was first inspired to create STOP. She said that the competition in her academic program spurred her to start the anti-bullying club. “I saw that there was a division, everybody [within the school] was trying to compete with one another,” she said. Because of the club’s success in Wolman’s Entertainment Law program, she believes that it will be spread to the other programs within her magnet school.

Even before founding STOP, Wolman sought out other ways to help people in her community. When she was 12, funding was cut for an annual toy drive at a nearby elementary school’s holiday party. “I felt like I had to do something,” Woman said, “so I went to my school. I asked if we could do the toy drive there, and they agreed.”She also reached out to her County Commissioner and was given permission to set up donation bins in all three public libraries in her district. “It was the first-ever student toy drive made for that school,” she said.

After participating in the toy drive for seven years, Coral Gables K-8 School nominated Wolman for the Posse Scholarship. The Posse Foundation identifies students with strong leadership and change-making abilities from low-income high schools in urban areas around the country, according to their mission statement. Mount Holyoke has partnered with the Foundation since 2010. After identifying qualified students, the Foundation admits them in small groups to their partner institutions. Mount Holyoke awards all Posse Scholars a full-tuition scholarship.

Wolman hopes to continue making a change at Mount Holyoke. She said, “I personally would like to [start a club at Mount Holyoke]. I just have to see what the school is missing.”

She is also interested in joining La Unidad and Model United Nations. Wolman is an American with Hispanic and Eastern European heritage, and she said that her culture is very important to her — it is a contributing factor to her desire to go into law.

Over the next four years, Wolman hopes to continue her anti-bullying work in nearby schools and on campus. She has already done research on middle and high schools near Mount Holyoke, and is interested in working with them to implement anti-bullying campaigns during her time in college.

Because of her work toward ending bullying, Wolman was also a recipient of the Princess Diana Award — an international award that recognizes young people who strive to better their communities. It is named for the late Princess of Wales who worked toward community support and betterment. Only 10 individuals win the award each year. The 2018 Diana Award Roll of Honour said, “[Wolman’s] mission is to empower students and provide a supportive, nurturing environment that promotes early success that will transfer into adult life.” The charity which administers the award described her as “a beacon of hope and a mentor for those who face bullying and intimidation.”

Wolman plans to major in either politics or international relations, because she wants to continue to try to make the world a better place. “I want to go into politics to make that change, possibly with something in the education sector,” she said.