Center Alum Launches Stronger Than Stigma, Inc., Connects Entrepreneurship and Social Change

 

Gabrielle Magid

Gabrielle Magid graduated with the BA in Women’s Studies and minors in business administration and nonprofit organizational leadership in 2015. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Stronger Than Stigma, Inc. in Jacksonville, FL.

As with most big decisions in my life, I didn’t plan it out and execute it gracefully. I stumbled upon women’s studies completely by accident, threw myself on its mercy my junior year and have been a big believer ever since. “Sociology of Gender” started out as a General Education Diversity credit in the spring of my freshman year, but quickly became the class where sparks flew. I remember thinking that Dr. Broad was passionate, intelligent, funny, and caring—everything I wanted to be when I grew up. It took me two years to stop fighting the internal force that wanted me to major in “something practical,” and instead to embrace the challenge and satisfaction I felt in women’s studies.

At the same time, I was exposed to the concept of social entrepreneurship–using business for social good. UF did not offer it as a major, so it would be up to me to forge an educational path that would give me the foundation I needed to pursue this work. So, I declared my major and started a business all in the same semester.

I had become aware of a problem on our campus–my peers were scared, ashamed, and embarrassed to reach out for help when it came to taking care of their mental health. This problem was not limited to the Gator Nation. I founded Stronger Than Stigma® in 2013 to bridge that gap between the student body and the mental health resources available for free on our campus, determined to change the culture around asking for help: it’s a sign of strength, not a weakness.

I graduated in 2015 with a degree in women’s studies and a double-minor in business administration, and nonprofit organizational leadership. The day after graduation, I received a letter from the IRS granting Stronger Than Stigma 501(c)3 status.

I learned that to be an advocate for something, you have to be passionate about it. You could feel that passion in every professor and in every class under the women’s studies umbrella. It is that same passion that guides me in my work today. I am proud of the progress made over the last five years–the UF chapter of Stronger Than Stigma is thriving in its fifth year of operation under student leadership. Broadening the scope beyond the UF campus, Stronger Than Stigma has established headquarters in Jacksonville, where I organize events and travel to speak to audiences in Florida and beyond, sharing what I feel are innovative ways to spark a discussion around mental health. Last spring, I even had the opportunity to speak at TEDxFSCJ and my talk “The Stigma is Real” is available for view on YouTube.

Stronger Than Stigma strives to give a voice to those who struggle in silence, demonstrating the influence of the discipline of women’s studies, which sheds light on the untold stories and the unsung heroes—filling in gaps and telling the whole truth. So, too, does Stronger Than Stigma.