EPIC Spotlight: Qili “Lily” Jin

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“My philosophy is to challenge your limits. You’ll never know how successful you’ll be.”

This part of her visit to China wasn’t in the study abroad curriculum. But it was something Qili “Lily” Jin felt she had to do. Only days before, she was in Hong Kong, networking with the country’s business leaders. Now, she was in a remote village, sleeping on a mat on a classroom’s floor, waiting to teach English to preschoolers.

To get to the village of Fenghuang in the Chinese province of Hunan was a 12-hour train ride followed by a three-hour commute. Then, she hopped in a minivan and rode for an hour. The last leg to her destination involved a two-hour hike through the mountains on a path that wasn’t always easy to see.

The country is quite familiar to Lily. She was born in China and lived there until she was 13. Last summer, however, she wanted to see her native country through the eyes of an outsider while also making a contribution. She first did a Sam M. Walton College of Business study abroad program in China with professors John Aloysius and Gary Peters. Then she chose to stay in the country to teach young students through the Impact Abroad program. “It made me appreciate seeing the country as a whole,” she says.

It also made her realize she’s just beginning to make a difference in the world. “I always ask myself, what’s next?” she says. “How can I do more?”

Lily is a junior majoring in accounting with a minor in economics and retail who graduated from high school in Round Rock, Texas, a suburb of Austin. She says her parents encouraged her to consider business as a career – a suggestion she gleefully took. She tested the waters in high school by participating in DECA, an organization that helps prepare high school and college students for the business world.

She considered a number of universities in Texas and visited the University of Arkansas three times, where she found the Walton Honors program to be especially welcoming.

Before entering the Walton College as a freshman, she enrolled in the college’s Business Leadership Academy, a residential program that introduces students to career choices in retail and other opportunities available to business majors. This prompted Lily to be involved with the Center for Retailing Excellence at the Walton College, which connects academics and industry. She says programs there have enabled her to meet many senior executives and attend conferences and other business events.

Lily was recently appointed to the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, which provides communication between Walton College undergraduate students and Dean Eli Jones. She serves as treasurer for Students of Retailing Excellence and for Leadership Walton. She also is also outreach director for the Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

This summer, Lily will travel abroad again when she goes to Italy in a program led by Molly Rapert, an associate professor in Marketing. She will intern for Walmart’s Accounting Finance Development Program when she returns.

If things go according to plan, she will finish her senior year early before continuing her accounting education through the Integrated Master of Accountancy program, which, upon completion, makes students eligible to become certified public accountants.

“My philosophy is to challenge your limits,” she says. “You’ll never know how successful you’ll be.”