When Isaiah Green decides to do something, he goes all out. That’s how, in his first year at UNC Asheville, he’s already well into his classes for his management major, finished an internship, owns his own small fashion retail business, spends his Saturdays teaching kids entrepreneurship skills, and has just been elected President of the Student Government Association. And he’s not stopping there.
“When I look at anything I do, I want to look at the highest opportunity possible,” Isaiah says.
Isaiah came to UNC Asheville from the STEM Early College at NC A&T; he was looking for a university where the classes would be small and where he knew he’d be able to talk to his professors—UNC Asheville was the perfect fit. In his first year he’s already diving into his management and accountancy courses; his favorite class so far is Organizational Behavior and Theory, where he studies successful business practices from a social science perspective. His courses aren’t only helping him get one step closer to graduation, but also with his own company.
“I’ve been running a business since I was 15,” Isaiah says, although it happened almost by accident, when he was trying to help his friends land skateboarding sponsorships. He created Full Circle Nation LLC, where he sells t-shirt and apparel featuring his own original artwork, so that his friends could boast that they had a skateboarding sponsor. To his surprise, the business took off. He creates his artwork under the name of Huey Little—Huey after Huey Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party, and Little after Malcom X, who’s original last name was Little. “They’re both representative of a lot of the things I care about,” Isaiah says.
His early experiences in entrepreneurship led him to a marketing internship with Hatch AVL Foundation, which works with start-up companies in Asheville, and inspired him to volunteer Hood Huggers International, a local nonprofit focusing on building greater communication, connection and wealth in systemically marginalized neighborhoods in the Affrilachian region (that’s African Americans living in Appalachia). Isaiah volunteers with local youth in the Hood Huggers’ social enterprise program, where he helps his students learn financial literacy skills and develop their own business plan. You’ll find him at the Burton Street Community Center with his students every Saturday, guiding them through the steps of starting a bicycle repair company—a plan they fully intend to launch.
“It’s really cool to see them bounce ideas off the wall and create their own ideas,” Isaiah says. “I’m really there to help guide them.”
Back on campus, Isaiah is excited about next year, when he’ll serve as the Student Body President. He plans to focus his administration on divestment from fossil fuels and the student code of conduct, and on creating a three-year strategic plan for the Student Government Association to use even after Isaiah has graduated. His own long-term goal is to rise to the role of President of the UNC Association of Student Governments, where he would represent the needs of all students in the UNC System in the deliberations of the UNC Board of Governors.
“It’s the ability to learn how to tell other people’s stories” that Isaiah says he’s found most valuable in his SGA experience so far. “At the end of the day, the Chancellor can’t hear from 4,000 students. But she can hear from me…that’s a good skill that I want to get better at.”
After graduation, he hopes to work in brand management for a large company like Nike or Converse. “I think those companies have a lot of cool stories that they have the ability and the budget to tell,” he says. He expects he’ll also have a side hustle or two, of course.