Anyone who’s been through high school knows that bullies can be challenging. Gallatin sophomore Aija Mayrock is doing something about it — at just nineteen years old, she published her book, “The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen.”
Mayrock recalls a particular incident in her past when she herself had been a target of bullying as one of the precursors to penning her book.
“When I was 15, a girl that I had never met dressed up as me for Halloween,” Mayrock said. “She posted this picture online, and it went viral.”
Although Mayrock left the experience a stronger person, a year later she saw a story on the local news about a young boy who committed suicide because he was bullied. This became her call to action.
“I decided that night, ‘I’m going to write a book,’” Mayrock said. “I had no idea how to, but I was like, ‘I’m gonna do it.’ I realized I could use words to create stories to help people.”
After about two years of work, she self-published the book in September 2014. Mayrock said her work is different from others on the subject as she provides a unique perspective being a teenager herself. Unexpectedly, Various publishers contacted Mayrock for the publishing rights to the book. Ultimately, she chose Scholastic Books because of its long-standing relationships with schools so that her message could make the most impact. Mayrock has now sold the rights to publishers in nine foreign countries worldwide.
With her book now published, Mayrock has been working on other anti-bullying projects. The day after the book was released, she was featured on AOL BUILD, a live interview series with entertainers, business people and scholars among others, where she discussed the book and her personal experiences with bullying.
She has also partnered with ABC and Disney on their “Choose Kindness” campaign, which encourages acts and displays of kindness amongst children.
Here at NYU, Mayrock shared her story at a conference called “Learning Leaders,” in front of 500 school officials from around the country to share her story as well as tips to deal with both bullying and its aftermath.
She has also written for other publications including Seventeen magazine and is writing a series of online articles for Teen Vogue for the month of October.
Currently, Mayrock is working with the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights on their National Bullying Prevention Month, serving as an ambassador for its YouTube videos. She has also kicked off a nationwide tour to speak at schools and conduct book signings and readings. Perhaps most exciting for Mayrock is that her book is becoming incorporated into curricula into both middle and elementary schools.
“It’s the most incredible thing when you come to a town and there are all these kids coming to your signing…the response is something I never could have dreamed of. I think it’s really cool that it’s going to be taught in schools. Kids really relate to the book because it’s written by a teenager.”
Mayrock said the response to her work has been more than she could have imagined.
“Every day I wake up to thousands of messages from kids [saying] how the book has changed their lives, and it’s just the most incredible thing,” Mayrock said.
As for the future, Mayrock wants to continue focusing on her studies at Gallatin with aspirations to work in media as a writer and director to further her activism in shining a light on a group largely ignored.
“I’m really excited to continue in this field, of giving a voice to the voiceless.” Mayrock said.
Email Jeffrey Kopp at [email protected].