Say hello to Alejandra, this month’s Lady Lennia! Alejandra is a current student of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (or Cal Poly Pomona) with a Spanish major. After years of a diverse education and a variety of odd jobs, Alejandra has found her calling and has graciously decided to share it with us. She is currently the President of the Ahimsa group at Cal Poly Pomona which practices non-violence and love of the self. Alejandra has integrated this into her entire life and is truly someone we can learn mountains from.
Currently attending Cal Poly Pomona (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona)
“I am inspired by mankind’s ability to experience forgiveness and gratitude.”
What is your area of study?
I will graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish. After taking a year of Mandarin three years ago, I decided to delve into the area of languages to offer a forum to exchange ideas and inspire understanding and tolerance. Learning language as a foreign language or a second language serve as vehicles to knowledge, compassion, love, and tolerance.
Where have you attended college, and when is your expected graduation date for Cal Poly Pomona?
When I graduated high school in 2003, I attended UC Davis for a year and a half. After being dismissed in 2005, I have attended two community colleges and have held countless jobs that range from cleaning houses and selling house paint jobs to being an accomplished Spanish tutor and an English teacher in China. It is an understatement to say that I am excited for my graduation in Spring 2013. I am preparing to embark on a path to graduate school, to further my research and help create better policies for education.
How have you become knowledgeable about Ahimsa and the teachings of Gandhi?
From a very young age, my father cultivated my passion for reading. I came across many authors, but some that stood out were Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Stephen Covey, and Miguel Ruiz. Although their styles were very different, I observed that their message was the same: we have the capacity to connect to a greater source that provides the ability to transcend the limitations of the superficial world.
When I transferred to Cal Poly Pomona, I stumbled upon a flyer informing students of the Ahimsa Center’s Nonviolence Studies minor, “The interdisciplinary minor in Nonviolence Studies provides our students an opportunity to learn about the philosophical, cultural, and literary traditions of nonviolence and the histories of nonviolent change. The minor imparts a systematic understanding of nonviolence as a core human virtue, a positive force that is grounded in courage, compassion and conciliation, and is key to creating a peaceful and sustainable future for the humanity.”
Upon reading these words, I knew that I was ready for Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolence.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by mankind’s ability to experience forgiveness and gratitude. The underlying virtue is respect. When one human being shows respect to his brother and sister, to Mother Earth, and to all living creatures, it rekindles my faith in humanity. Women and people of color that have encountered resistance so that I could encounter much less inspire me. My parents who provided the support needed for my healing is also a love which continues to inspire me.
What has been your biggest struggle in achieving your goals? How are you overcoming it?
Dealing with failure has been my greatest struggle and yet one of my most important teachers. I did not learn the tools needed to deal with failure and when I had to face it, my spiral into depression caused a long road back. My family provided support and love to help aid me back to emotional and spiritual well-being. Just as we brush our teeth every day, nourish our bodies, the soul needs to be nourished as well. Through reflection and forgiveness, I have been able to overcome my fear of failure and now simply challenge it.
What would you like to write about for our magazine?
This month I want to share with you different events that my club works hard to put on in order to provide a space where the community can discuss the complexity yet simplicity of Ahimsa in our daily lives. Ahimsa can be found in many religions, the result of an absence of violence leads to filling it with love for the self, the higher power, those around us, the soil, the air, food. From the violence imposed by multinational corporation Monsanto through intimidation, coercion, and systematic elimination of natural seed harvests both in America and around the world, it cannot be natural to accept these conditions that imprison our cultures. I will discuss the findings of a dedicated teacher who through his years as a K-12 pedagogue discovered that students want to talk about religion and want to feel a spiritual connection to their education. I will talk about the way we often run to religion or our place of faith in times of crisis, and when that can help or simply blind us from the problem. As a Spanish major, I will discuss our daily lexicon which connotes violence and further distances us from our spiritual core.
Do you feel like you can inspire women in their 20′s and 30′s? If so how would you go about doing this, or how do you believe that you are doing this now?
When I finally arrived at a good place in my life, the moment I was open to love, the moment I started to believe in my intellectual capacity, I was ready to share my story. As a woman with some experience under her belt, I love to advise and mentor young girls in high school and at the beginning of their college career. It is important to talk, to provide a safe forum to discuss fear, doubts and success as concepts that go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. If I was able to find my way back, I could only hope to give hope to individuals that need a support system in their path to professional and spiritual success.
Who does Lady Lennia represent to you?
Lady Lennia represents a knowledgeable, self-aware woman who understands that success is not an end but a process that must be enjoyed every step of the way.
Why would you make a great Lady Lennia for the Spirituality & Religion edition?
I am always working toward bettering myself first in order to have a better foundation to lead and to lead by example. I recognize elements of Ahimsa in all world religions that advocate love for humankind.
What is something you absolutely must have?
Balance: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our young adult female readers?
When you need help, ask for it. If they don’t know the answer, ask someone else. Seek many answers to the same question in order to make the most informed decision possible. Do not be afraid of failure. Did you know that Silicon investors are more likely to invest their money in companies that are run by people that have already failed since they are better versed in the realities of life?
Life will be easier when you practice forms of meditation [prayer] to nourish the soul. You cannot change what the world may throw your way, but you certainly have the strength to control how you react to these situations. Being in touch with the greater source provides the strength to not only get through tough situations but more importantly, to clear the way to solutions and opportunities. They are all around us. It is such an amazing feeling that you wake up every morning thanking this energy for the hot shower you have the access to, for the hands that picked the apples you having for breakfast and for the ability you have right now to read my words, a skill that we take for granted.