EVERYDAY HEROES: Hulbert grad spreads anti-bullying message

Dec. 13—HULBERT — After receiving a scholarship for anti-bullying efforts, a Hulbert graduate has continued to spread the message by promoting empathy and encouraging others to stand up to bullies.

Emily Ramos, a freshman at Northeastern State University, applied for the $5,000 2023 Spring Ty Smalley Memorial Scholarship her senior year at Hulbert Public Schools. The scholarship is set up through Stand for the Silent, an anti-bullying platform, in remembrance of its namesake, an 11-year-old who committed suicide after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully.

While Ramos may have received the scholarship her senior year, this was not her first encounter with Stand for the Silent and the story of Smalley. Ramos first heard the story in the fourth grade, when Kirk Smalley talked about the impacts bullying can have.

"Just at a young age, I remember this hit me right in the chest, because I didn't know what suicide was at the time," Ramos said. "The way it impacted my life was changing me to be a better person to everyone I make eye contact with. It definitely matured me at a young age to know you don't know [what] anyone's life is like at home. It has definitely shaped the person I can be for others, being a friend and just being nice."

The day after Stand for the Silent made a return during Ramos' senior year, she applied for the scholarship, which only has two recipients each semester.

"Seeing them again my senior year was a reminder that bullying still goes on today," Ramos said. "Now I am more educated that bullying is not just in elementary school, but continues on for ages. One thing Kirk Smalley mentioned was 'Fear of getting involved is temporary, but regretting that you did not get involved to be a hero for somebody is permanent.' It reminded me of what Sadie Robertson [an American Christian speaker and author], once said, 'Five seconds of awkward can save you from a lifetime of regret.' Now that can be used for many situations, and it can definitely help with bullying, cyberbullying, violence, and drugs."

Ramos said the encounter she had with Stand for the Silent changed her outlook on life To help continue the anti-bullying narrative, she plans to continue promoting empathy, encourage others to stand up against bullying, and to foster an inclusive culture.

"I believe receiving this anti-bullying scholarship is not just a personal achievement but an opportunity to help spread the message of kindness, and inclusivity," Ramos said. "My actions following this scholarship aim to inspire others to stand up against bullying — where everyone feels valued and accepted. I hope my commitment to this cause serves as a reminder that small actions can have a big impact, and by actively working together, we can create a world where bullying is not tolerated."

For those who are experiencing bullying, Ramos said they should not be afraid to speak up, and those who see mistreatment taking place should also "be a hero to someone."

Ramos' future plans include becoming a physician assistant and to make an impact on at least one person's life.

"Whether it's offering a helping hand to a friend in need, being supportive for my family, or contributing to my college, I aim to bring kindness and positivity to everyday situations," Ramos sad. "I believe small acts of compassion and understanding can help create a better environment for everyone."