Giveback Partner Spotlight: Clarissa Rodriguez of SheRocks@College

Our monthly spotlights of our Giveback Partners is one of our favorite blog posts of the month because it gives a "face to the name" of the people who make Kurandza what it is. Giveback Partners are monthly supporters of Kurandza, either individually, as an organization, or through a retail partnership or event. 

Today, we are so excited to introduce you to Clarissa, the founder of SheRocks@College. Clarissa has an incredible, contagious passion for educating girls that aligns perfectly with our work in Mozambique. We're so honored to have her as a Partner. 

We know you're going to love her too :)

You've been involved with Kurandza since you helped fund our Country Director, Percina's first trip to the US! What is your favorite program we've established, and why?

This last project #IStandForGirls has been my favorite for sure. While I was getting my traditional American education it never occurred to me that it was a privilege. I had no idea that this was a special gift that I had been given. I never knew not everyone received an education. I had no clue that somewhere across the world another little girl was being denied the one thing that should never be taken away from her, her knowledge.

I didn’t learn this truth as deep as I know it now until I was in college. And I could never shake the feeling that the solution to some of our worlds biggest issues was lying in the mind of a girl who was never given the chance to develop the skills to bring it to life. So part of my life’s work is around making sure every girl who wants it has access to an education.

Your business is built to help college-aged women excel in their studies. We think that's incredible! Could you tell us a little bit about the story behind this passion?

I was a first-generation college student, and learning the ropes of getting into college and then just trying to survive and succeed while I was there was tough. My parents didn’t understand it. The education system where they come from is totally different and they grew up in 3rd world country level of poverty so college was never even an option for them.

I struggled.

I failed class after class after class on my road of trying to become an OBGYN, and instead of being encouraged and helped, I was told that I wasn’t smart enough and that I didn’t have what it takes. And that crushed me. Deep down I knew it wasn’t true but those words really stuck with me and were the catalyst for me exploring how to learn.

I don’t believe in the idea that you’re either born smart or not. I believe that every girl has the ability and power within her to become extraordinarily smart regardless of her circumstances, background, and past grades. I created SheRocks@College to equip the next generation of female leaders with the skills that are essential to succeed in college so that they can step out and continue to change the world with their knowledge and talent.


What is your favorite part of your job?

The transformations. Watching these women go from doubting their brilliance to embodying the pure belief and confidence in themselves, abilities and their future.

Why is educating the next generation important to you?

Most of the students I know think that what I’m helping them do is get A’s and B’s in their college courses. But I know how much deeper my work goes. I know the impact passing their courses will have on their college education and how that will impact their career, income, self-confidence and the life they will go on to live.

I see how each small victory in their classes builds their confidence and strength to overcome any obstacle they might encounter. I see them inspiring and raising up the next generation for success. I’m rooting for them to win in life, not just college.

As one of our earliest Giveback partners, helping fund Percina's first trip to the US, what inspired you to partner with us?

I wholeheartedly believe that women have the power to change this whole world, and it starts by empowering them through education and access to the skills to do it.

Why were you excited to join as a launch team member for our #IStandForGirls campaign last September?

I think often we can forget the true impact our donations have on these kinds of efforts. It’s not just an education it’s a whole family that gets impacted, a whole community, a whole town, a whole country. That bigger vision is what I was excited about.

Through our GiveBack Partnership program, you've donated over $500, which sends one girl to school for an entire year and provides a subsidy to our art teacher for over 5 months! First of all, THANK YOU! Second of all, how does breaking down your impact thus far feel as a donor and sponsor?

It feels amazing to me because of what it makes possible for these girls. I’m more excited about the impact this one girl I helped sponsor will make in the world than the impact I’ve made.

If you weren't running SheRocks@College, what do you think you'd be doing?

I’d probably be a full-time nurse and dedicating a part of my life to volunteering as a medical professional in other countries. Access to basic needs and skills is really important to me and I think I will always be drawn to the kind of work that makes sure that happens.

And just for fun, what are a few things most people don't know about you?

  • I am obsessed with late 1940’s and early 1950’s fashion and decor. I own way too many clip-on earrings even though my ears are pierced because that was part of the style in that era.

  • I’ve watched Mad Men from start to finish a total of 8x. There are 7 seasons so, yeah. That’s a little crazy.

  • Every month I buy a slice of this death by chocolate cake at a local mom and pop restaurant and I refuse to share it with my husband.