Jenny Jiang 26BBA was in her junior year of high school when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing with it the onset of remote everything. She began looking for ways to stay connected with and give back to her community. In doing so, she began volunteering for a virtual read aloud program for children.

“I noticed there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the books I was reading aloud to these kids,” Jiang says. She recalls researching the issue at the time. The results: Only about 25% of children’s books featured main characters of color.

Taking Matters Into Her Own Hands

Jiang decided to do something about that statistic. She set out to write a book about appreciating one’s own beauty and the beauty of those around them.

“It was springtime when I was making the book,” Jiang says. “I was walking around my neighborhood and perceived a lot of different flowers around me. I thought back to the universal concept that ‘All types of flowers are pretty.’ That inspired me to make a metaphor between the diversity of flowers and the diversity of humans.”

Jiang began to study other children’s books. She looked for inspiration on how to compose a storyline, the appropriate syntax and grammar to use, and how to visually depict characters.

Early renderings of the book’s main character, Julia

Next up, she independently storyboarded, wrote, and illustrated the project on her iPad. Then she sent the piece to her friends and a self-published author she found on YouTube for feedback. Nine months later, in September 2021, she uploaded “Just Like Flowers” to Amazon’s self-publishing platform.

Her debut literary work follows main character Julia, who struggles to paint herself in art class. Julia’s teacher, Ms. Ross, comforts her by exploring the flower metaphor.

Seeing The Impact With Her Own Eyes

The project has now come full circle. Jiang has since read her book aloud in several preschools, including three last semester. She hopes her story inspires children to love “what makes them and others unique,” while also serving as an example for students who want to become authors.

Jiang recalls one particularly sentimental moment during a school visit. “There was one girl who had her eyes glued to the page. She raised her hand at every question I asked and gave me a hug after the reading. It was incredibly rewarding to see the educational impact of my children’s book. I feel truly gratified after every read-aloud.”

Jiang points to one cornerstone of her experience: the drive for social change. It is something she has pledged herself to in all areas of her life. “With every single thing I do, I want to understand the impact that I’m having with the services that I’m providing,” she says.

Jiang says managing the economics of her children’s book pushed her to pursue an undergraduate degree in finance and quantitative sciences in the BBA program at Goizueta Business School. Seeing the positive effect her studies can have has only further ignited her passion for this field.

Plotting The Next Steps

To continue her mission, Jiang joined Consult Your Community, a club that offers pro bono management consulting services to small minority-owned businesses to help bridge the resource gap.

“I did a profit analysis for my client who was struggling to break even,” she says. “I did semester-long research and a financial analysis. It was super gratifying to be able to give back to her business and help her discover ways she could increase her revenue or decrease her costs. That helped me realize that, despite stereotypes within financial roles, there is a huge social impact behind things like quantitative responsibilities.”

This theme shows up again in Jiang’s participation in the Young Democrats of Emory. Through the club, she helps educate her peers on Georgia state issues, policymaking, and voter registration so they can be better informed and engaged citizens. With two more years at Emory University, she only hopes to continue to embody and spread her message.

The Goizueta BBA program gives students an approach to problem solving and a methodology for making things happen. Found out how an undergraduate degree from Goizueta can help you build a foundation that prepares you to tackle any challenge, anywhere, in any field.

Learn more about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Goizueta Business School.