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WHM 2018 Student spotlight: Clarissa Peña

Clarissa Peña
Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students

Can you tell us a little bit about the path that lead you to Stern?

One day in undergrad, one of my marketing professors came up to me and told me I needed to go to business school. I’m not sure why he said that, but for some reason, it stuck with me. After completing undergrad, I started working for Teach For America with the intention of going to business school for marketing at some point in the future. I didn’t really know when that would be, but I knew it would be within 5 years. In my time with Teach For America, I learned so much about my own identity, and what it means to be a Latin@, and a female Latina for that matter. I realized certain statistics existed that predicted what my future would or should look like. I decided that I didn’t want to be a statistic, and that if I could somehow make it in business school and join the 7%~ of Latin@s that have masters degrees, I could somehow show other young Latin@s that they also have what it takes to help increase that percentage.

Can you tell us a bit more about any communities of women that you have found/built at Stern?

I am surrounded by so many strong, intelligent, and inspiring women at Stern. This is true across every single woman I’ve met at Stern, but I’m am very active in the Association of Black and Hispanic Business students. As a result, I’ve developed a particularly strong community within this group, and am so in awe of the ladies of this club. They educate me, challenge me, humble me, and encourage me. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of women to grow with over the last two years.

Have you found any women role models at Stern (whether professors, other students, at internships, or something else altogether)?

Honestly, every female professor has become a role model to me in one way or another. Of the 24 classes I’ve taken at Stern, 7 of those classes had a female professor. Every single one of these women have been so brilliant and accomplished. I’m constantly fascinated by the knowledge they share with us in class. Additionally, my female classmates themselves have become so instrumental in my positive learning experience at Stern. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish post-business school!

Based on your experience as a woman during your time at Stern (whether on campus or off), what advice would you give to a woman starting the program?

I would encourage them to not hide their voice. Even if you’re not sure if you’re right or not, your voice is so important. Speak up, especially if you feel something is not right, and don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in. The Stern community is so supportive that you will never stand alone. If you’re the only girl in a group, don’t let yourself sit in the sidelines. Be part of the conversation, because you belong in it. And lastly, spend time developing relationships with your female professors and fellow female peers. You’ll be amazed by how much you can learn about others, the world, and yourself from one conversation.


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