Kate MacHugh, of Barnegat Township, was tormented for six years in middle school and high school, she said, by girls who called her “ugly,” spread untrue gossip about her and physically assaulted her. As tough as it was, it led to her calling in life.

MacHugh is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and speaks to students, educators and others about her experiences, in a presentation called “Ugly: The Story of a Bullied Girl.” She spoke last month at the National Conference on Girl Bullying 2012 in Atlanta.

“It resonates with kids to hear someone else has gone through this and made it out to the other side,” said MacHugh, 23. “I hope it reaches the aggressors, too, to realize the gravity of their words.”

MacHugh, who said she found acceptance and a full social life at Alvernia University in Pennsylvania, plans to run a private practice helping kids who are victims of bullying.

She grew up in Stafford Township, and attended Southern Regional High School. She said the girls who harassed her were well liked by teachers, held leadership positions and were pretty and popular.

Bystanders are central to prevention, she said.

“You need kids to speak up and say (to bullies), ‘That’s not cool,’” she said. “Those are the kids you need to get to, to support the victim.”

To contact MacHugh, email KateMacHughBullying@gmail.com or call 609-312-3322.

Teacher attends

computer workshop

Egg Harbor Township High School’s Lynne Kesselman, of Mays Landing, was one of 40 teachers selected to participate in the computer science Tapestry Workshop held July 11-13 at the University of Pennsylvania, co-sponsored by the University of Virginia, a high school representative said.

The workshop allows professionals to share strategies, research-based practices and field-tested ideas for teaching computer science to diverse populations.

76ers dancer

Michelle Figueiredo, 21, of Little Egg Harbor, has been named to the Philadelphia 76ers elite dance team, which performs during home game intermissions and for community and charity functions.

Figueiredo, a rising senior at Rider University where she is a member of the Dance Team and Dance Ensemble, has been dancing since age 4, said dad Dan Figueiredo. She trained at Rising Stars Performing Arts Co., in Tuckerton, and now trains with the American Repertory Ballet at the Princeton Ballet School. She teaches at Broadway Bound Dance Academy in Stafford Township.

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219