Phoenix HS senior uses childhood bullying experience to create change

Apr 16, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:00 pm

Bullying hurts billboard sign, Brandon, Minnesota. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Gro...

Bullying hurts billboard sign, Brandon, Minnesota. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — When Julia Rivas was 10, she was bullied by her classmates at her school for her weight after taking medication.

Kids would take her lunch saying she was too fat to eat, while also making insensitive drawing of her.

Feeling alone and out of place, the then 10-year-old Rivas would speak with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Larry Gaydos about her experiences being bullied.

The result of her interview with Gaydos was one no one could see coming. Rivas would be kicked out of her school after being the victim of bullying.

Years later as a senior in high school, Rivas joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Wednesday to talk about how being bullied and that interview as a 10-year-old changed her.

An advocate against bullying, Rivas has used her experiences from the past to now help others who may be going through what she did.

“I never want someone to feel how I felt when I was 10,” Rivas said.

A student at the Arizona School for the Arts, Rivas has made an impact through the Respect, Inspire, Speak Up and Educate (RISE) student advocacy program she started two years ago.

The program is made for the students and ran by the students, with Rivas leading the charge.

“Any student who goes through something deserves to be heard and sometimes administration doesn’t listen on any level,” she said. “So being a person who has gone through that and not listened to, I felt a need to stand up for people around me.”

Rivas said she will often go back and listen to her interview with Gaydos from when she was 10. While it was a low point for her at the time, she says the interview inspires her today because she is now the one helping the 10-year-olds who go through what she experienced.

The senior in high school will next attend Northeastern University in the fall, where she plans to major in forensic psychology and criminal justice.

Rivas said she chose that to be her major to better understand why people do the things they do and to understand why.

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Phoenix HS senior uses childhood bullying experience to create change