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Jennie Zhang is teaching a quan­ti­tative analysis class at Hillsdale this semester.
Zhang | Courtesy

 

Qianying “Jennie” Zhang is the newest addition to Hillsdale College’s business and eco­nomics department. She is an assistant pro­fessor of finance and eco­nomics and teaches two sec­tions of quan­ti­tative analysis this semester.

Zhang was born in Shanghai, China and earned her bachelor’s degree in eco­nomics at East China Normal Uni­versity in 2008. It was her “dream school.” Then she came to the United States for further study.

“I wanted to come to the US because I always heard that ‘if you really want to study, that’s where you want to go,’” Zhang said. “If you really want to do the research and study, I think here is the best.”

She attended the Uni­versity of Illinois at Urbana-Cham­paign and earned a master’s degree in eco­nomics.

“When I came to Cham­paign, the one year studying there was even more fruitful than the four years in China,” Zhang said. “It’s very intense study.”

Zhang then attended Florida Inter­na­tional Uni­versity, where she earned her doc­torate in eco­nomics last year. She also met her future husband at FIU, and they married earlier this year.

While she was studying in the United States, her mother passed away, in 2014. Zhang said she still holds her mother very close, citing the impact she had on her.

“I’m really close to my mom. When I was 16, I had no idea I would study abroad. My mom is a very influ­ential person to me,” Zhang said. “My dad is a busi­nessman and I didn’t see him a lot. My mom raised me up. Every­thing I did was influ­enced by her.”

After com­pleting her studies, Zhang taught at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, last year. When her husband started teaching at Central Michigan Uni­versity, they moved to Michigan. After a few weeks of teaching at Hillsdale, Zhang said the college stands out.

“Stu­dents are more pre­pared here, they pay more attention, and they work very hard, and are very smart,” Zhang said.. “They’re really smart. I really like the stu­dents here.”

Allegheny is also a liberal arts college, but Zhang said Hillsdale is unique among liberal arts college in its com­mitment to its core mission.

“Now, a lot of liberal arts schools are tran­si­tioning towards being career-ori­ented. They don’t keep the tra­di­tions of the real liberal arts,” Zhang said. “Here, we still have that tra­dition. That’s what a liberal arts school is sup­posed to be.”

Zhang is appre­ciative of her oppor­tunity to teach at Hillsdale, espe­cially since she would never have applied for a position if she and her husband hadn’t moved to Michigan.

“When my husband got a job, I just wanted to get a job some­where that wasn’t too far,” Zhang said. “This was pretty lucky, and I think it was God’s plan for me to get a job here.”

At Hillsdale, Zhang’s stu­dents said they enjoy her ener­getic teaching style and her real-life appli­ca­tions. Junior Caylee McComb is in Zhang’s quan­ti­tative analysis class, and she said Zhang is engaging and wel­coming.

“She wel­comes stu­dents into her office hours, and she is very helpful with answering ques­tions and clar­i­fying during that time,” McComb said. “She’s lively and is very knowl­edgeable in the subject. She does a great job at pro­viding real world examples throughout lec­tures to make the material easier to under­stand.”

Senior Amelia Cul­breath also takes quan­ti­tative analysis with Zhang and said she can tell Zhang enjoys what she’s teaching.

“I’m really enjoying it so far. She is great at explaining all of the con­cepts and using real world data and infor­mation,” Cul­breath said. “She’s also young and ener­getic, which makes it easy to stay focused in class.”

Zhang said she encourages feedback from her stu­dents since she is still beginning her pro­fes­sional career.  

“I want to get feedback from the stu­dents. If the stu­dents have any sug­ges­tions, I want them to let me know,” Zhang said. “That can help me to improve my teaching. Research I can do by myself, but with teaching, I want to know what my stu­dents think.”

Zhang said she is accli­mating to Hillsdale as a com­munity and campus. She enjoys reading, phi­losophy, and caramel mochas from AJ’s. She wel­comes any stu­dents to visit her who would like to know more about China.

“If stu­dents are inter­ested in China or are inter­ested in Chinese culture, come talk to me, and I can give them good advice, or just good food,” Zhang said.