Honors alum uses birthday as fund raiser

Wang DSC00928 large“The Honors College was the most amazing educational experience I had in my whole life.”

That’s according to Jialan “Jenny” Wang, who holds a bachelor’s degree in math from Cal Tech and a Ph.D. in financial economics from MIT. She so enjoyed her time at the University of Central Arkansas and the Honors College, she used the occasion of her 30th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the Honors College to raise $3,000 to benefit the Schedler Honors College Campaign.

The campaign aims to raise $3 million to grow the endowment for Travel Abroad Grants and Undergraduate Research Grants for Education. TAG and URGE allow Honors College students to travel to and study in other countries, or to assist in research opportunities in a variety of fields.

Wang, now working for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C. following a stint as a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, grew up around UCA, taking classes as early as middle school, while her father was a math professor.

“I started attending full-time in the fall of 1998 and spent two years in the Honors College before transferring to Cal Tech,” she said. “I had a lot of interactions with UCA through my family.”

The idea to raise money for the Honors College is just one in many years of charitable birthday giving.

“I never really liked to celebrate my birthday since I was little,” Wang explained. “It started with Facebook, because every time your friends see your birthday on the page, they would send happy birthday wishes. I thought that was a great opportunity to use that to help a cause.”

Each year since 2008, Wang has done an online fund-raiser for non-profits or causes in which she believes. Past recipients have been Heifer International, which provides farm animals for underprivileged families in third world countries, and PATS, which helps children living with HIV in rural China. Wang is also a board member for PATS.

“So this year, I decided to ask family and friends to help me support the Honors College since I knew I was going to visit in the spring, “ Wang said. In March, she spoke to students in the Honors College as a part of their spring lecture series.

Wang also took advantage of all the opportunities afforded her through the Honors College, participating in the URGE program to study artificial intelligence at the University of Memphis, which she described as a “wonderful experience.”

“I feel that in the Honors College, I’ve been with the best and brightest minds in the world,” Wang said. “I feel so happy to give back in any way. I feel that the Honors College really guided my choices in life.”

Friends donated $775, to which Wang and husband, Patrick, added $2,225 to reach the $3,000 goal. A check from Schedler to the cause had in its “For” line: “Celebrating Jenny.”

More information about the Schedler Honors College Campaign and how to give can be found at http://uca.edu/giving/honors/.