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Pharmacy grad balances studies with growing family

by Luanne Williams

Amanda High knew that earning a doctor of pharmacy degree wouldn’t be easy. She was already juggling the roles of wife and mother of a preschool daughter as she finished her prerequisite courses at Pitt Community College and applied to Wingate University. By the time she got her acceptance letter, she was expecting a second child.

Friday night, she’ll cross the commencement stage as a mother of three.

At 29, High looks more like a laidback undergrad than a harried mom headed toward a demanding healthcare career, but underneath there’s nerves of steel developed through sheer determination.

“People who find out I have three kids and am in pharmacy school will say, ‘But you’re so calm.’ And I say, ‘Yeah, I’ve lost my mind,’” High says with a laugh. “I’ve never been in pharmacy school without kids, so it’s what I know.”

She and her husband moved from Greenville, North Carolina, to Oakboro so she could commute to Wingate.

“At the beginning of first year, I had a 4-year-old and a 2-month-old. Then during third-year summer break I had my third baby, so another newborn,” High said. “I do feel like it has prepared me to handle future situations which might be really hard to deal with.”

She said that even as life grew incredibly hectic she never considered dropping out of school. Instead, she relied on her family for support and tried to make the best use of her time.

“I didn’t get involved in any kind of extra activities; I was in for school and out,” she says of her drive to the Levine College of Health Sciences. “When I got home I would spend time with the kids, but I couldn’t study until they went to bed. I just had to have the discipline of making sure I had time to study.”

The juggling act was a true duet, as High’s husband, Chris, a trooper with the N.C. Highway Patrol, also runs a pressure-washing business on the side.

“He’s been working two jobs so I could focus on school and babies,” High says. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”

A young couple sits with their two sons and daughter on a hayride wagon.

There were times when she had to leave class to pick up a sick child or call a professor to get an excused absence, but for the most part she found ways to make her busy schedule work, to not fret over every grade and to keep a cool head in the midst of it all.

She said having confidence in the education she was getting helped.

“Wingate has a great reputation and a high passing rate (on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination), so it was comforting to know that I would learn all I needed to learn to succeed,” High says. Now she’s on the hunt for a job in hospital or community pharmacy that will enable her to work within daycare hours.

With the finish line in sight, High has nothing but encouragement for other parents trying to make it through graduate school.

“I met a first-year student who has a 5-year-old son and was worried,” she says. “I said, ‘Look at me – you can do this.’”

On Friday night, she’ll have her husband and kids – Makayla, 8; Bryson, 4; and Jace, almost 2 – as well as family from Michigan and all across North Carolina in town to watch her cross that finish line.

Graduate Commencement is set for 6:30 p.m. on the Academic Quadrangle. Learn more about both ceremonies.

May 8, 2019

  • Pharmacy