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Joanna Jimenez

Episode 092

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Learning your Children's Education to Making your own Education Journey

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About Joanna Jimenez

Joanna M Jimenez was born in San Antonio Texas. She lived in Texas till the age of 6. Her family moved to Pasadena, California, in 1980, and that is where she completed high school. Joanna married her high school sweetheart right out of high school and had five children. Throughout her children’s education, she volunteered in the PTA and was engaged in volunteering in her kids’ classrooms during their elementary school years. Joanna and her husband started a small swimming pool company which, in time, grew and became successful and is still in operation to this day. Joanna and her husband also opened a small restaurant and two flower shops. The restaurant did not last long. However, the two flower shops were solely run by Joanna and became successful.

As a result, Joanna became a member of several local Chamber of Commerce to promote the flower shop business. Joanna’s Floral Expressions has been well known in the local community. Joanna is now going into her 12th year as a faithful member of the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce. 

This year 2023, will be Joanna’s second time serving as Chamber President. After Joanna’s divorce in 2017 and then attending her youngest child’s college graduation, she pondered her next step in life. After raising five children, three of them college graduates from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, two in the family pool business, and being a successful entrepreneur in the community, Joanna decided to pursue a college education. Joanna enrolled at Pasadena City College, and with the same work ethic, determination, and enthusiasm, she will complete an Associate’s Degree in May 2023. 

Her goal is to earn a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in Child Development. Currently, Joanna spends her time studying, running her part-time flower business, volunteering in local community organizations, and spending time with her grandchildren. 

And when she has extra time, you can find her cycling the San Gabriel River trail or salsa dancing. Most importantly, Joanna is a woman of faith.

Instagram: @comolaflorjj

Chamber of Commerce: sangabrielchamber.org

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Joanna Jimenez Quotes

  • “My education was very limited, but I tried to push and help my children, and that’s what I want to do with other young people.”
  • “Whatever I don’t know or understand, I will find out. I’m going to learn and get the information I need to be successful.”
  • “No matter how high the mountain is, I can still climb it. No matter what difficulty arises, I can still overcome it.”
  • Joanna Jimenez grew up with ten siblings, where the value was focused more on work and work ethic than education.
  • This experience shaped Joanna, and she became an advocate for her children, pushing them to work hard and excel at school. 
  • She helped her children through school, making sure she was present and a part of the PTA, where she became the President of ELAC. 
  • She managed all this while operating a swimming pool business and two flower shops. 
  • Then after 25 years of not attending school, Joanna enrolled at Pasadena City College, where she will graduate with her Associate’s Degree in May 2023. 
  • Joanna’s passion for learning and networking led her to become the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce President. In this role, she continues her passion for ensuring every voice is heard and receives the help they need.

WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY?

I’ve lived in the San Gabriel Valley for about 40 years now. I got married here and raised my family here. I love being a part of the community. I joined the Chamber of Commerce and tried to expand and partner in the community. 

san-gabriel-chamber-of-commerce-joanna-jimenez

YOU DECIDED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL. WHERE ARE YOU GOING, AND WHAT AREA ARE YOU STUDYING?

I am going to Pasadena City College, majoring in Psychology with an emphasis on Child Development, and I am excited to graduate this May.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR DEGREE?

I want to help young children know that regardless of their upbringing, they can be successful. They can reach their highest potential, and I want to encourage and show them how to believe in themselves.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP IN THE SGV?

Growing up here was great. I’ve lived in Pasadena for forty years, and it has grown quite a bit. 

I love the community’s growth, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY’S STORY?

Of course. I was born in San Antonio, Texas, and schooling wasn’t considered very important growing up. It was all about the work ethic. 

Once I got married and had kids, I pushed them to be good in school and would help them in any way I could. 

I made sure that they were doing their homework, and in the summers, I had them work with tutors. I wasn’t good at math, so I made sure they had help to excel in school.

I have three children who are graduates of one of the five service federal academies, The United States Merchant Marine Academy.

My education was very limited, but I tried to push and help my children, and that’s what I want to do with other young people.

And after putting my kids through school, I wanted to return to school, and I did.

ARE YOUR CHILDREN ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY?

Yes. My oldest son just finished the reserves. My daughter and younger son are still in the reserves. 

My daughter just got back from Italy. She served five months over there on active duty.

WHERE ARE THEY STATIONED?

My youngest son is stationed in South Carolina and is currently on a container ship in China.

My daughter is an engineer and works on the oil tankers at the Ports in Long Beach.

YOU SAID THAT SCHOOL WASN’T EMPHASIZED, BUT WORK WAS. DID YOU HAVE TO WORK AT A YOUNG AGE?

I didn’t, but all of my brothers did. My father was in construction, and as soon as my brothers got into high school, it was time for them to work and help provide for the family.

My job was to help my mother with cleaning the house.

WHAT WERE THE DIFFICULTIES THAT YOU EXPERIENCED IN SCHOOL?

I hadn’t been in school for 25 years, and the most challenging thing was that I didn’t understand what was expected of me.

All I knew was that I was going to go, and I was going to do whatever I needed to be successful. 

At one point in my biology class, my professor explained the syllabus, and I did not understand what she said. I sat there and cried. 

I asked myself, “What are you doing, Joanna? This is way out of your league,” but the inner voice said, “No, you can do all of this.”

So I cleaned myself up, walked up to the professor, and said, “I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?” she replied.

“Everything. I don’t understand any of it,” and she told me, “It’s ok. I’m going to help you, and we’ll get through this.”

And I utilized the labs to make sure I had the help so I understood.

WHAT FEELING WERE YOU LOOKING TO GET FROM THIS CHALLENGE?

No matter how high the mountain is, I can still climb it. No matter what difficulty arises, I can still overcome it. 

As hard as the challenges get in life, there is no stopping someone as long as they are determined to get to that finish line.

All of my brothers went into the military and got their GED. I was the only one to finish high school, and I am the first one to go to college. 

YOU HAVE TEN SIBLINGS!?

Yes. My mom had five from her first marriage and five with my dad.

ARE YOU CLOSE WITH THEM?

Yeah, we are close. We just lost our mother in November, and that has brought us closer together.

BEFORE YOU WENT BACK TO SCHOOL, WHAT WERE YOU PURSUING?

Before school, my husband and I started our own swimming pool company. Then we opened up two flower shops. I had to teach myself how to do the books and run the business while caring for the family.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE BUSINESSES?

Right before Covid happened, I closed my flower shops and worked out of my home.

The swimming pool company is still very successful.

WERE THOSE BUSINESSES YOUR PASSION?

No, they weren’t. I always wanted to back to school. I loved being in the school setting and working with the kids.

WHAT ITEM DID YOU BRING WITH YOU TODAY?

I brought a vase with a flower. I am very passionate about flowers. I opened two flower shops and had to learn about flowers, so I took classes at PCC and Culver’s so I could run my business successfully.

SO WAS IT YOUR “JOB” TO RAISE THE FAMILY?

Yes, it was. One of the things I did was to make sure I was there for my kids. Through this, I found out that the presence of a parent in the school system stands out, and the kids make sure they get things done. 

DID YOU ENJOY BEING INVOLVED IN THE PTA?

I did. I felt like I wasn’t there just for my kids; I was there for the kids whose parents had to work and couldn’t be there.

When they made me the ELAC President, I discovered that non-English speaking parents weren’t getting involved due to the language barrier. I encouraged them to participate, and we brought in translators so the parents could be involved.

DO YOU WANT TO CONTINUE TO BE INVOLVED WITH CHILDREN?

Yes. I want to continue to work with children. I have a special passion for children in foster homes, and I want to continue to help children grow and develop. It’s one of the reasons I sponsored international students.  

I would have four at a time and help them prepare for school and experience America. 

HOW LONG WOULD YOU HAVE THE KIDS?

I would have them for two weeks at a time, and we did it for four summers until Covid stopped it. It’s something I would like to get back into.

THESE QUESTIONS WERE DEVELOPED BY A PREVIOUS GUEST, BRIAN TAYLOR, AND I’LL READ TWO QUESTIONS, BUT YOU HAVE TO ANSWER ONE OF THEM.

If You Were Arrested With No Explanation, What Would Your Family and Friends Assume You Have Done?

If I got arrested, my friends and family would think it was because I was sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

YOU’RE IN YOUR SECOND TERM AS THE SAN GABRIEL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT. HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH IT?

Years ago, when I opened my flower shops, I became the President of the San Marino Chamber of Commerce. 

At one of the mixers, I met Sandy and started getting involved with the community. I was meeting new people and had a shared experience with them as business owners trying to grow in the community.

The Chamber came along and helped me and then would help me network in the community, and that’s what the Chamber does. It allows businesses in whatever business you need.

HOW DOES THE ROLE OF THE CHAMBER PRESIDENT DIFFER FROM JUST BEING A MEMBER?

It’s being on top of things and making sure that members’ voices are heard and that the business feels valued in the community.

 

SGV III

  1. The Santa Fe Dam: I love riding my bike up to the dam.
  2. Pasadena City College: It has been such an impactful place for me. 
  3. The San Gabriel Valley Chamber of Commerce: Being a part of the Chamber has allowed me to meet so many people

 

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR FAITH?

Yes. I think that is the foundation of who I am. Ever since I was young, I had this hunger for something more, and when I found out about who God is and why He came to earth to reconcile us to him. 

Who I am today is because of who Jesus is. 

JOANNA, HOW CAN PEOPLE GET IN TOUCH WITH YOU?

If people want to get in touch with me, they can find me on Instagram at @comolaflorjj, and to get a hold of the Chamber of Commerce, they can visit the website sangabrielchamber.org