When Grace, Soumya and I conceived the idea of featuring an outstanding woman leader from the group to feature every month, we were quite confident that this would be an amazing facilitation group facilitation plan for all of us.
As Community Champions, we had initially no idea how we would go about it. But, during the process, we explored different mechanisms to try our hands on and distributed the criteria of selection among us.
The result was: Clarissa Rios Rojas (https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/clarissa-rios)
They say that a strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everyone else.
Clarissa is a perfect fit!
She is the founder and director of Ekpapalek ( www.ekpapalek.com )a non-profit organisation that to empower Latin students with the opportunities of professional development for Latin Americans by offering three FREE programmes. She also promotes the social and economic development of Latin American countries.
She lives in Australia but is a native of Peru in South America.
Clarissa is a strong soul.
“I do not think there was a special moment but a compilation of teachings during my life that made me who I am today,” she says.
Her parents taught her about the importance of family, honesty and about helping others with humility. She grew up with the belief that she can do whatever she wants to, if she would stay focussed. Life showed her that being persistent and never giving up was the combination of success.
The fact that she could travel and be exposed to different cultures inspired her. She says that people around her has influenced most of her core traits and way of thinking. She draws her motivation and inspiration from them.
Clarissa’s work reminds us of this important quote.
“Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.” -Marian Anderson
Inequality and social injustice around the world has impacted her deeply and has awaken the spirit of solidarity and empathy within her, which has also given her courage to take action and look for innovative ways to be part of the solution .
For her it was not a cake walk.
She believes that if one doesn’t have money, it is very difficult to access – knowledge and technology.
“I knew that everything will cost me twice or three times more than to the rest: I was Latina, a woman and I was poor. I looked for opportunities – scholarships and that is how I could do exchange studies in Finland,” she says.
Later, she wanted to pursue studies on the prestigious Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
“I worked hard for economic sustainability. I worked as babysitter, house cleaner, boat cleaner, waitress, Spanish teacher. I was even part of experiments at university,” she says.
At the end it all paid off. She completed her degree in Biomedicine and Neuroscience.
Clarissa is also a part of the UN Women platform: Empower women.
She has been selected as a global champion for women economic empowerment for 2016 to develop a pilot project in Peru about changing the current role models of women: (http://www.ekpapalek.com/programa-mujeres).
Her advice to all the young girls is to invest their time in education.
“Boyfriends may or may not leave you, but your education stays with you forever. It is a fantastic tool for not just academic but also for social development,” she says.
She also believes that the hard work never goes waste.
“Keep yourself curious about the world, keep updated with the technology and always think about new ways to give back to your community. Empower yourself by empowering others,” she says.
Her vision as a World Pulse member is to empower citizens from developing countries by developing innovative and effective programs that tackle poverty and lack of opportunities.
Please feel free to follow her on the link provided in the beginning and read her incredible work and get inspired!
As CC’s of the leadership group, we promise our readers that next month; we will introduce you to another incredible leader like Clarissa and join our amazing network of leaders at the leadership group.
“A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” - Beth Revis
Community Champions, Leadership Group