Data Saves Lives: Reflections from the Corporate Citizenship Conference

Xinyuan (Johnny) Yin
Xinyuan (Johnny) Yin

Johnny Yin is currently an MS Information Systems candidate at the Carey Business School and also the CDO intern for the Social Impact Network. Johnny obtained his bachelor’s degree in Finance at Case Western Reserve University. He has had several internships in tax advisory, business consulting and asset management. He is passionate about data-driven advisory and digital transformation, further leveraging both the technical tools and business insights to facilitate decision making processes for his clients. In his free time, Johnny loves playing basketball, watching movies and traveling.

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On Nov. 15, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Better Together Corporate Citizenship Conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, representing Carey Business School. As the Social Impact Network intern in the Career Development Office, I am responsible for helping catalog different resources related to social impact, organize events and conferences, and assist in the establishment of the social impact network at Carey. Attending the Better Together conference was a great chance for me to learn more about social impact from a variety of companies and organizations.

The conference started with two amazing speeches about promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering) education and learning for children through partnerships. In the speeches, the speakers mentioned that early proficiency in math is the number one indicator of later academic achievement in life, and there will be 9 million jobs that are going to be STEM jobs. As a student in a STEM program, I have realized that it is increasingly more important to focus on early-stage STEM education for children in this era of fast evolving technology.

The most striking topic to me was the speech, “Humanizing the World of Work: Using Tech and Data to Save Lives” by Nancy Lublin, CEO, and founder of Crisis Text Line and Lublin shared her experience of being inspired to establish Crisis Text Line when a young girl texted the hotline saying that she wanted to die. Crisis Text Line provides 24/7 support for people in crisis in the United States via text. With over 70 million texts processed to date, Crisis Text Line uses insights from data analytics to develop and share innovations in prevention, treatment, and long-time health. Crisis Text Line also shares data it collected and processed on to further help to prevent future crises.

As a data enthusiast, I believe that data plays an important role in making people’s lives easier and more convenient. However, when it came to the use of data in handling young people’s issues like mental health, suicidal thoughts or drug addiction, I was skeptical about how data can help someone with life struggles. In Crisis Text Line, keywords such as “suicide” or the names of drugs are marked as high priority and reported to police or rescue teams. Through data analytics, Crisis Text Line finds that the names of specific drugs actually lead to higher suicidal rate than the actual word “suicide”.

Lublin’s speech really inspired me to expand my thinking and taught me that data could serve not only as a tool to share points and values but also as a medium of empowerment to spread human values. Unfortunately, Lublin never heard back from the young girl, but that instance inspired her to reinvent data with a golden rule: kindness saves lives.

As the first Social Impact Network intern, I have learned a lot about how social impact could reshape a person or a business. It leads businesses to pay more attention to employee welfare, raise awareness of sustainable growth, create more equal opportunities for under-represented groups and, more importantly, to leverage resources to deliver help and kindness.

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