Making a difference one college degree at a time
For Reda Jaber and Sara Abraham, entrepreneurship isn’t only for grown-ups. They have started a children’s book series entitled “Visionary Kids” about entrepreneurs and innovators that they hope will spark a new experience for children ages 3-to-8.
Instead of fairytales and princes, the books explore the life of entrepreneurs on their journey to success. The first book of the series follows Apple co-founder Steve Jobs from his childhood adoption to finding a company out of his garage. It includes illustrations and a child-friendly narrative. Joaquin Arias, an illustrator, handled the visual aspects of the book.
Jaber and Abraham said they hope the stories would teach children the values of creative thinking, pursuing their dreams and entrepreneurship. “I want wheels to turn in the kids head,” said Abraham.
Jaber and Abraham attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the idea for the book came up when they were talking about their dreams. Abraham mentioned publishing a book and Jaber suggested to start right away. They visited some local bookstores and found no real-life hero books in the children’s section. The couple began the series, and the first book is scheduled for release on June 30.
Born in Dearborn, Jaber comes from humble beginnings. His parents, both immigrants from Lebanon, did not attend college and worked at a local factory, but they invested in the dreams of Jaber and his older brother, Ryan, who is now a physician.
Jaber loves learning. He graduated from the College of Literature, Science & the Arts in 2008 and received a Master of Science in Clinical Research from the U-of-M School of Public Health in 2011. This month, he will receive a Master of Business Administration from the U-of-M Ross School of Business and a Doctor of Medicine from the U-of-M Medical School, graduating with a Student of the Year award.
Jaber also cares about people. He found two mobile applications to help others. The Happy App tracks depressive symptoms over time and allows users to take a daily survey and THIS or THAT helps users make decisions.
“It brings me joy to make something out of nothing because it can help people,” said Jaber.
His work in the mental health field doesn’t stop there. He conducted breakthrough research on depression among Arab-American adolescents at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), a Dearborn-based nonprofit organization serving the Middle Eastern communities. The research got noticed and Jaber will be speaking at the National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) International Conference next year in Oman.
“Reda is very loyal to solutions,” said Hassan Jaber, executive director of ACCESS, who is not related and mentored Reda Jaber for years on various projects, including the mental health research at ACCESS. “He is fully aware of what the community goes through.”
Abraham’s life is immersed in the field of education. She changed her major from medical to teaching against her family’s wishes, and U-of-M awarded her the prestigious Robert C. Noyce Teacher scholarship.
Born in Baghdad to a Kurdish mother and an Arab father, Abraham’s parents immigrated to America when she was 8 years old. She recalls living in a one-bedroom home and her parents – one having a doctorate and the other a physician in Iraq – struggling to pay the bills. But America was a bubble of comfort coming from a war-torn country, she said.
“She knows how to treat people,” said Robert Watson, Northville High School principal and Abraham’s mentor.
Abraham’s passion for education goes beyond Ann Arbor where she tutors on topics like biochemistry, biology and physics. For the past three summers, she traveled to Iraq to teach English and work at an emergency pediatric hospital assisting patients.
“There is a lot of light but you also see a lot of pain in their faces,” said Abraham about the children she teaches in Iraq.
Abraham loves teaching because it changes lives, she said. After pursuing her master’s degree, she plans to continue to teach at underprivileged schools in the area.
Jaber and Abraham said the financial support they have received on Visionary Kids has exceeded expectations, raising nearly $3,000 dollars since starting the project on Feb. 25.
Their plans include doing upcoming books of Michigan-based entrepreneurs, specifically founder of Quicken Loans, Dan Gilbert, and female entrepreneurs to show the diversity of the business world.
You can order a copy of the book at Visionary Kids. It is also be available on Amazon.com at the end of June for $19.95.
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