Alondra Rodriguez is in her final year of undergrad at Manhattanville College. She keeps herself busy working as an office assistant in two offices on campus, and is always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. Her hobbies include food (primarily eating it), reading, spending time with friends, and dancing with her team! She graduates in May, and is excited to see where life will take her next.
I need to be honest… Alondra is one of my closest friends, and being able to share her story and life perspective is an honor (especially on Valentine’s Day)! While I might be totally biased, this lady is the coolest person in town. She carries herself with a confidence that takes you by surprise, and is up for just about any adventure you propose. Her story inspires me, and I am sure they inspire young women everywhere, too.
The recent events in our society has taught me the value of education and how important it is to continue learning even if it’s the opposite perspective.
Nothing motivates anyone to get out of bed more than good food, but for Alondra, food is everything. Granted, that food comes with a hefty side of gratitude. “What gets me out of bed is the fact that I’ll be learning something new that day, that I am gaining more than I had the day before.” Being able to attend class (and battling senioritis every step of the way) is a gift, something this lady remembers every day.
Of course, school is not the only thing on Alondra’s plate. “I am constantly getting involved in all kinds of activities and fields, in hope that I will find something that I am truly passionate about.” The arts, theatre, communication, finance, international business… the list goes on. You name it, she’s tried it. It wasn’t until recently that she came upon a line of work that fulfills her need for purpose and helps others: nonprofits.
My goal is to one day run my own non-profit and expand it into third world countries. I want to focus on girls and help them receive a well-rounded education.
Right now, Alondra works at a nonprofit called Lifting Up Westchester. They work to aid the homeless in in her college’s area. She hopes to continuing working with nonprofits to grow her knowledge of the trade, and use it for later endeavors. One day, she hopes to be running her own nonprofit at an international level. Before she gets there, though, she may pursue further education on nonprofit management.
Among her challenges is finding value in herself. “I have been bullied all throughout my life… which took a toll on my self-esteem.” After years of seeking approval from others, Alondra figured it out: her unhappiness came from never finding that peace within. It was then and there that she learned to take life by the reins, find joy within herself, and never measure her worth by someone else’s scales.
There was a time that I was constantly working for the approval of others but not myself. And then one day I asked myself why I was so unhappy and it was because I was not living for myself but for others.
A big part of finding this inner happiness and self-worth came from loving her skin. “Growing up I have always struggled with my brownness, especially coming from a family who has lighter skin than I do.” She was always compared to her mother, who has the lighter skin prized in much of the world. However, she’s been inspired by other women of color over time—and has decided that she’s too fabulous to wait for society’s approval. In her words: “I think I am AMAZING!”
When I ask for her advice to other young women out there, it’s simple: stay confident! “You are a goddess and you are women and there is always power in that.” Know your value, and never let another soul tell you otherwise. That is a trick to finding that true happiness—finding a joy in being you every single day.
Throughout the years I have meet many wonderful women who embraced their melanin fearlessly and they taught me to love my brown skin and to always know that there is no shame in that.
Finally, I always ask my ladies… How many times do you hurt yourself trying to dance in the shower? Alondra’s response: “That is a daily dilemma!”
Thank you for being a part of this series, and sharing your story alongside the stories of all the badass women out there.