This year, we're thrilled to be working with undergraduate communications assistant Willie Zheng. A pharmacy major, Willie is a freshman from Marion, Iowa. His work at Obermann ranges from calendaring to social media strategizing. We're so glad to have found him!
What inspired you to choose pharmacy as both your major and career path?
WZ: I think the foundational inspiration that led me to decide pharmacy as my major was COVID. I was really inspired by the way our medical researchers and our pharmacists became a critical step in getting the pandemic under control, getting our kids, including myself, back in school, and getting people back to work. In addition, throughout my life, I have always wanted to have a career within the healthcare industry, as well as working and serving local communities like my hometown. Pharmacy is a great example of a healthcare career that serves communities across the nation in providing life-saving medications for all.
Future pharmacists wouldn't typically be drawn to an Obermann communications job, but you were. Why do you think that is?
WZ: I think that no matter which career one chooses, being able to communicate effectively is a skill that is valuable both within a job and outside a job in our everyday lives. I have a personal connection to the importance and difficulty of communicating well because English isn’t my first language (Chinese is). During my time learning English and Spanish in school, I learned to communicate in a way that engages a wide range of people and allows them to fully comprehend what I was saying. That's why I was drawn to this particular job, and I hope to further improve my communication skills at Obermann.
What piques your curiosity?
WZ: How interesting and how applicable different areas of studies can be in our everyday lives. For my pharmacy major, I need to take numerous science classes like biology and chemistry; I'm so intrigued by these two fields in particular because they essentially explain both the makeup of human beings and the makeup of the world around us. I get so excited when I’m in these classes because I know that I can apply them outside of the classroom. The same is true of other fields, like history, English, and another one of my favorites: American politics. (One thing to take away: I’m a big chemistry, biology, and politics kind of guy.)
What has surprised you about your university experience so far?
WZ: The most surprising aspect of my university experience so far has been the ways you can spend your time in Iowa City. Yes, school does take up the vast majority of the time that students have, but since campus is so intertwined with the downtown area and places are so accessible by walking, biking, or taking a Cambus, you can take a break from school without having to spend a lot of time commuting from point A to point B. That allows me to be able to enjoy life outside of school.
What, aside from a degree, would you like to gain from your undergraduate experience?
WZ: I would like to become an RA to develop better research skills and dive into more research opportunities, as well as make the most of my undergraduate experience. It's really important for me not only to be academically successful but also to be well-rounded outside the classroom. So far, I've become a finance senator for Catlett Residence Hall, a Hawk the Vote ambassador, and a research lab assistant for the Department of Internal Medicine. I also hope to volunteer my time at UIHC and become a student pharmacist when I officially enroll in the College of Pharmacy!