The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Argo Asks: Celina Qi (’15)

Celina Qi (’15) (second from left) smiles wih her co-founders. (Source: Forbes)

Celina Qi (‘15) is a co-founder of Juniper Behavioral Health, a company aiming to make mental healthcare more affordable by providing administrative work. She was recently featured in the Class of 2024 Forbes “30 Under 30” and is currently based in New York City.

Q: Can you describe your current company?

A: We automate operations for behavioral health clinics. What that means is basically there’s a lot of overhead that goes into running a clinic. You have to keep the lights on, maintain the paperwork and keep operational administration. Our goal is to automate those pieces so that clinics can focus on what they do best, which is serving their patients.

Q: What goes into creating and sustaining a company like this?

A: I think the first and most obvious is building a product or service that people need and that creates value. Of course there are tons and tons of companies out there, but the most important thing in any company is making sure that what your building has value in the world and is helpful to people. I think the second is building a strong team and culture that you believe in and that people who you work with also believe in. Culture looks different at every company you work at, but I think that the most valuable thing that a company can have is a strong team of people who believe in what they’re doing.

There’s lots and lots of other things, of course. There’s operational work and financial sustainability, but I think the two most important things are building something that’s valuable and building a team that believes in what you’re doing.

Q: In what ways does being a leader in this company help you grow as a person?

A: I think leadership is so personal because leadership looks different for everyone. In order to be an effective leader, you have to be authentic to yourself, and that requires knowing yourself, working on yourself and growing yourself. It’s hard, right? First of all, everybody at our company goes to a lot of therapy. (laughs)

Even if you think about the leaders we know, the most powerful ones are those who believe in what they say and where the way that they act feels true to them. So I think that for me there was a lot of work that I had to do on myself to understand me and figure out what my authentic brand of management was and to see what parts of me resonated with people.

Q: How did your BLS experience prepare you for this career opportunity?

A: The great thing about BLS is that you surround yourself with really smart people who know how to work hard and who are really ambitious and how to do great things in the world. I think being surrounded by that energy and environment was the most powerful thing for me. What’s great about BLS is they create that type of culture and environment from the onset, right from where they start at seventh grade.

Q: What was your favorite class at BLS and why? 

A: I loved APUSH with Mr. Rinaldi,  and I loved AP Modern European History because you learned stories about the people who came before you.

Q: Did you do any extracurriculars at BLS and if so, what?

A: I started cheerleading in ninth grade, and continued for all four years and then I kept that in college.

Q: What is one piece of advice you have for BLS students?

A: Be okay with failing and making mistakes. One thing that is hard to learn in school, high school and college, is how to take risks and how to be okay when they don’t pan out well enough. What I’ve learned is if you live your life too afraid to take those risks and too afraid to fail then you just always play it safe. For me, the startup was something that I thought a lot about because I was so afraid of what would go wrong and what would happen if I didn’t do well. I’m so glad I took that risk, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Do you have any goals that you would like to accomplish in the future?

A: One of my goals is to live more in the moment. I think what I’ve learned is there’s so much value in having perspective and from thinking about what gives your life meaning. I’m just trying to be better at smelling the roses.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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