We had the good fortune of connecting with Akin Merino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Akin, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am an immigrant and a naturalized citizen. I’ve been in this country for over 3 decades. My mantra is that I am a possibility. I am a black woman immigrant with a Ph.D., which is an education privilege. However, with three minority statuses, the task might seem daunting but I come from great stock. My first identity is a daughter of God, therefore, my duty is to bring light to my world. Secondly, I grew up within a strong family that instilled the pursuit of service within my DNA. Thirdly, I am an immigrant who is appreciative of every opportunity that allows me to give back. Fourthly, I am a woman, a birther of dreams. Lastly, it is a destiny to be Black. It is important to create transformative opportunities within this system.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the founder of Jars Education Institute, JARS Education Institute’s mission is to be a dynamic, training facility, offering lifelong learning opportunities of specialized occupational education that equips a diverse group of individuals learner for life and work in the society. I was a Vice-President of Academic Affairs at one of the Private Universities that closed in 2018. I saw this as an opportunity to venture into a dream I’ve had since childhood – to create a training institute that would be inclusive of blacks across the globe. A world Class academy is facilitated and administered by people of color. I personally believe that Mental health is a family’s health which in turn impacts the community and nation. One of the greatest needs of our community is healing from an individual, familial and communal trauma. The Institute has focused on trauma training to bring wholeness and healing to our communities. I am most excited and proud that we have an institute that trains people from across the globe. In one of our training, we had attendance from 13 countries spanning 4 continents. How did I get here? I was in academia for 2 decades from Middle School teacher to College Professor and then in administrative and leadership positions. I believe those years helped me with professional expertise. However, I had to learn how to build the structure and systems for the institute. It wasn’t easy. However, I was open to learning so I invested in courses, coaching, and literature that helped me advance my vision. We were not always successful but remained consistent. What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? 1. Details matter! 2. Spend money on quality staff – you get what you pay for. 3. Train and then train some more. Don’t require anything from your staff that you have not trained them to do. 4. Create a Trauma-Informed Care atmosphere for your employees and customers. 5. Create systems for everything. It saves you from having to extinguish fires constantly. 6. Collaborate with others 7. Meaningful Work is important – ensure you have a big reason to anchor you 8. Constantly add to the body of knowledge of your industry 9. Promote! Promote! People should know you exist 10.Build a business that will outlast you. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story? Vision: Transform lives through education Focus: Coaching Academy, School of Education, Behavioral Management, and Leadership Management. All our programs are taught from a human management lens. Naming: The name ‘Jars’ is from the scriptural parable of Jesus turning water into wine. The repository is known as Jars of Clay. The Jars concept is that humans are repositories of greatness. We simply empower their lives into extraordinary ones.. Mission: *Improve the community’s understanding of mental health and wellness. *Provide education and opportunities for individuals, families, and organizations to identify early warning signs of mental illness and subsequently provide programs and an environment that supports recovery and improves resilience for these individuals. *Assure that those who request information and need mental health care referral have confidential access to the appropriate information and how to obtain care. *Advocate for improved support and treatment particularly at the state and federal levels, especially where reform is needed.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A week Itinerary Getty center Museum of tolerance Botanical Gardens in Pasadena California Africa American Museum Viva el Arte, Los Angeles UCLA Rodeo Drive The Huntington Gardens at Night LA Arboretum San Diego Beaches Aquarium of the Pacific Dine on the Queen Mary Walk on the beach in Santa Monica Catch a show at the Pantages Theatre The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dr. Marilyn Al Hassan, my professional mentor and encourager.