Finding Balance

It’s 7 a.m., Monday morning, and junior Leah Conroy is awoken by the high-pitched beeps blaring from her cell phone, an alarm the 20-year-old set just five hours earlier.

Conroy finished her closing shift at DC’s bar in downtown Iowa City at 2 a.m. and curled up in her bed after packing her lunch and laying out her scrubs for the rapidly approaching eight hour school day.

The UI Radiology student takes classes at the UI Hospital, five days a week, eight hours a day, while also juggling her part-time job at DC’s where she averages 40-hours a week.

When Conroy made her decision to attend Iowa in 2008, she was aware of her new financial burden that accompanied being a Hawkeye.
But when Iowa City passed its new 21-ordinance in June 2010, Conroy wasn’t ready for the toll the regulation would take on her income.

Financial Responsibilities
The Byron Ill. native knew she wanted to be a Hawkeye during her senior year of high school.

But Conroy was no exception to her two older sisters, Emily 24, Haylee 23, both of whom took complete financial responsibility for their college expenses.

Despite working at DC’s for over two years, Conroy said time management has still been an ongoing problem throughout her college career.

“The toughest part about managing [work and school] is probably getting over scheduled at work,” Conroy said. “I only have a couple hours after school to do homework and then I have to go in and close. I’m exhausted the next day for class, but I don’t have a choice I have to work”

Conroy said she uses student loans to pay her tuition and depends on her DC’s pay checks for rent and utility bills, parking expenses, groceries, and miscellaneous costs, a total she estimated to be about 600 dollars.

21- ordinance

Dc’s has always been a 21-only bar, which Conroy said makes the ordinances’ impact less detrimental, but still noticeable.

“The whole scene of downtown is totally different,” she said. ”Since there are less people [downtown] there are obviously less in the bars. You can really tell the affects on the weekday nights that used to be busy like our Tuesdays,  but now maybe one random bar a night will get busy and that’s about it.”

Conroy said prior to the 21-ordinance she earned an average of $70 a night on weeknights and $150 per night on weekends.
Football season has helped maintain the weekend crowds in DC’s, but Conroy said she has seen her weekday incomes dwindle to fewer than 20 dollars on certain occasions.

“You don’t know your money like you used to,” Conroy said. “You used to know by day a minimum of what you’d probably make, but now its luck of the draw on what nights are going to be busy.”

Conroy’s roommate, junior Julie Euyoque works at Bo James, another previously 21-only bar.

Euyoque too claims sole responsibility for her college finances, and depends on her biweekly Bo James paycheck to cover her bills.

Conroy’s roommate said because she works mostly lunch shifts during the week, her income has been dramatically lower because students seem to be avoiding the bars all together.

“The ordinance has had a domino affect,” Euyoque said. “We were a 21-only bar before so the night shifts haven’t been hurt as bad, but during the day students just don’t go downtown anymore to even eat or shop, so they aren’t aware of even the lunch deals we have.”

Conroy said her job at DC’s hasn’t been producing enough income to pay her monthly expenses and if the 21- ordinance doesn’t get reversed, she will be forced to seek employment out of the bars.

Conroy (left), Euyoque (right), enjoying their time away from school and work.

School Commitments
The UI Radiology school’s schedule mirrors the hours of a full-time job, a task that Conroy said she was originally ready to handle.

When the junior was accepted into the radiology program in 2009, she had no choice but to quickly master prioritizing school and work responsibilities.

“I have just gotten used to being tired,” Conroy said. “I usually sleep five hours a night at the most. After school I have to decide whether I can afford to take a nap before work or if I have to study for that extra few hours.”

Despite the class and work overload, Conroy has managed to maintain a B-average her sophomore year, and said she is steadily improving on that feat.

Conroy’s other roommate, junior Amanda Duski, questioned her housemate’s ability to juggler her priorities.

“I don’t know how [Leah] does [balances school and work],” Duski said. “I’ve never had a job in college and I still feel tons of pressure from school and feel like I never have any free time, she’s nuts.”


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