As if being a full-time D-1 student-athlete and earning her Crime, Law, and Justice degree while playing for the successful Lady Lions basketball team AND creating an anti-bullying program for Centre County wasn’t enough, recent Penn State grad Gizelle Studevent was quietly working on publishing a book entitled “Bridges,” which was released on Amazon last week.
“Bridges is like a diary whereby which I share [my]innermost thoughts with the world. A diary is a place where some feel most comfortable to say what they want and how they want, so writing or typing my feelings was the best way, I felt, I could open up to people,” Studevent said about what motivated her to write the 226-page book.
The book is mostly written in a letter format, with messages written to people like her Generation Y peers, mothers and fathers, and coaches and teachers, because, she wanted the book to have a personal feel to it. In comparison to sending an e-mail, a letter takes time and dedication and is more real, she said. In addition, she received hand-written anonymous letters from bullies in her past, so she knew it would grab the reader’s attention like those letters grabbed hers.
Through her successes, you would never know the story behind Gizelle’s past. Studevent has gone through a lot in her 22 years, including a near-fatal car accident because of a drunk driver. In high school and middle school she was bullied via threatening letters as well as cyber-bullied through blogs. She was ultimately forced to transfer high schools while having her story covered by the Los Angeles Times and ESPN. A documentary was even created based on her story, in which some of her authorities failed to step up and take action.
Gizelle’s story of bullying is what propelled her to create Penn State Athletes Take Action (PSATA) during her senior year. The program, with the help of countless members of the Mount Nittany Middle School community and the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, brought Penn State student-athletes in to middle schools to talk to the students about bullying.
“The athletes who believed in the vision and trusted the unknown is what really made the program very special,” said Studevent. In addition, she contributed a great deal of success to her PR team which was consistent and assertive. Studevent will be coming back to State College to continue PSATA’s success and to help it grow outside of Centre County. Gizelle has received many accolades for her creation of PSATA, including the 2013 John W. Oswald award and 2013 Stand Up Award.
As for “Bridges,” Gizelle went through a lot of trouble to have it published. She talks about some risky subjects — like homosexuality, religion, and politics — that made some publishers shy away. But she believed in her words and, and as she said, “continued searching for a publisher that would let me be me.”
As you could imagine, Studevent sacrificed a lot to have the book published. She spent summers writing instead of catching up with friends at her home in San Diego or even working on her playing level. But, she says it was worth it.
“With Bridges, I hope to motivate those who I wrote letters to, to dig deep inside, look in the mirror and see how they can contribute more to the betterment of mankind. Even if that means only touching one soul,” said Studevent about her dreams for the book.
She’s often asked what words she would say to someone who is currently being bullied and her best advice is to speak up. As for those in positions of power? She begs that they step up. She said, “Parents must take the time to genuinely listen to their children and talk to them about anything and everything,” as her own parents did and helped her “get through the madness.”
Through it all, Gizelle gives a lot of credit to Penn State. “I just wanted to say thank you to Penn State for making my 4 years there incredible. It is a very special place and I am so grateful that I was given an opportunity to go there,” she said.