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Flagler student wins Coca-Cola anti-cyberbullying essay contest, travels to New York for 'Hackathon' event

December 7, 2015 3:07 PM
Hope Rendell
Snapchat photo of Hope Rendell, wearing glasses and teal purse, with Coca-Cola Snapchat coordinator (in foreground) and other winning students from across the United States.

The Coca-Cola company recently flew Flagler College student Hope Rendell to the Big Apple to participate in the “Coca-Cola Happiness Hackathon,” an anti-cyberbullying campaign organized by the popular soft drink company and, an online social change engine.

The freshman, along with 14 other youths nationwide, was selected based on a winning essay that addressed how to use technology to “make the Internet a happier place.”

As part of her submission, Rendell, an Education major, proposed the development of a Web site where people could anonymously submit offensive cyberbullying material — articles, posts and Web sites. She suggested a corporation, such as Microsoft, Google or Coca-Cola, manage the site and donate a dollar per cyberbullying entry to an anti-bullying charity.

“I was contacted by email saying that I won and I was so excited,” she said.

In October Rendell flew to New York, where she joined 14 other students ranging in age from 13 to 19 to develop and present ideas for the cyberbullying “Hackathon” portion of the contest. The conference was held at the headquarters and participants were divided into five groups to dream up anti-cyberbullying ideas.  With the help of a tech mentor, Rendell and her team developed an app with the slogan “Be the ONE who makes a difference.” The app would provide a safe haven for victims of cyberbullying where others could post positive advice for them. Mental health counselors would also be a part of the app service.

“With bullying, victims feel like they're alone,” Rendell said. “And I really believe if one person does their best to make that person feel loved or cared about, that makes a huge difference in the way things turn out.”

Her group won in the category of “Best User Experience,” and Rendell took home a plaque and $500. Other highlights of the trip included meeting the CEO of Coca-Cola, the managing editor for BuzzFeed and attending the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland” with comedy series "Glee" star Matthew Morrison.

“I have never been to New York before, and I have always adored musical theatre,” she said. “And being in a hotel room where I was able to look out onto Broadway was amazing.”

Also as part of Rendell’s prize, Coca-Cola donated $500 to a charity of Rendell’s choice: Boys and Girls Club of St. Augustine.

To view what Coca-Cola’s “Hackathon” was all about, see the video below:


Topics: Education, Students