By Whitney Tarpy
OXFORD, Miss. – There’s no doubt that a student’s life is busy. Between class, studying and sleeping, sometimes the hours in a day can get away.
But for students with jobs, family responsibilities and extracurricular activities, time management can be especially tricky.
For School of Pharmacy student Joanna Wu, all of this—and more—is a reality. The second-year student pharmacist not only has to focus on the demands of classes, but she also helps her parents at their restaurant, Ming’s Kitchen, in Oxford.
“It has been challenging trying to balance work and study,” Wu said. “There are always interruptions, like answering phones and taking orders when I try to study at the restaurant. There isn’t any downtime to focus on my studies. Sometimes I would have to stay up throughout the night to finish assignments or study for tests.”
A typical day for Wu consists of class in the morning, finding time for a quick lunch and getting some homework done in the library or student center before she heads back to the restaurant.
“While I am there, I try to get some studying done and help out when it’s busy,” Wu said. “When it’s really busy, I don’t have time to do anything besides help take dine-in and take-out orders and help inside the kitchen. There are days when I even have to help cook a few simple orders. By the time I come back to it, I’ve already forgotten where I stopped. By the time it slows down, it is usually time to go home. After getting home, I try to study a little bit more before going to bed, which is normally around midnight or even later.”
Wu doesn’t complain, though. She’s doing what she needs to do to help her family. Wu was born in New York after her parents immigrated to the state from China. Her mom, Lisa, didn’t finish college because she was pregnant with Joanna, while her dad, De Ming, only finished junior high because he was going to school during China’s Cultural Revolution. This makes her the first in her family to receive a degree. However, Joanna is determined she won’t be the last, as her younger brother, Jeffrey, is a freshman at Ole Miss.
“I often help him with homework, especially proofreading written assignments,” Wu said. “Since he’s a freshman, there is a lot of things he has to adjust to. I make sure he is completing assignments on time.”
Wu also had two cousins come to the U.S. from Hong Kong in June to live with her family in Oxford. She commits time to their school work as well, helping them with English every day or answering homework questions.
As if classes and work weren’t enough to keep her busy, Wu became a School of Pharmacy Ambassador last year to be more involved.
“By becoming a leader, I can represent my class and the school,” Wu said. “I wanted to get to know more students and professors, have more interactions and build strong relationships. I’ve experienced what it is like to be in the Early Entry Program, and I feel like it will really benefit the students to have someone who did the program as their mentor.”
Her hard work in and out of the classroom doesn’t go unnoticed.
“My family and Joanna’s family have been friends since she was young, especially since my daughter was in the same grade as Joanna,” said Robert Doerksen, associate professor of medicinal chemistry. “Knowing a pharmacy professor for all these years helped to interest her in the pharmacy profession. It’s great to have Joanna as a student pharmacist in my medicinal chemistry class, always in the front row and attentive.”
Though her schedule may be busy, Wu is learning how to successfully accomplish it all.
“My communication skills have improved over the past two years,” Wu said. “Trying to change my time management skills is hard and challenging, but I tend to get more done under pressure. Balancing study and work is not as difficult as it was before.”