Seeing the USA in Her…Mustang

CoB faculty member Joohyung Ha, Ph.D., has travelled the U.S. in her Mustang.
CoB faculty member Joohyung Ha, Ph.D., has travelled the U.S. in her Mustang.

With a newly acquired taste for boiled crawfish, Joohyung Ha, Ph.D., is settling in to life in New Orleans and the College of Business. Ha joined the CoB in the fall of 2011 as an assistant professor of accounting.

Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Ha is used to bright lights and big cities. She has travelled the U.S. extensively and has come to realize that the environment here is not always what she grew up accustomed to. During her first foray to the U.S., she served as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C. She describes herself at the time as a very shy high school student with little experience speaking English. She still managed, though, to use her time here wisely, taking advantage of every opportunity to tour D.C., learning as much as she could about how our government works.

She next returned to the U.S. as a college exchange student, studying in Dayton, Ohio. Living on campus, in a residence hall, she got to experience for the first time what colleges refer to as “the campus meal plan”—and gained 20 pounds! When she returned home and exited the plane in Korea, her parents weren’t sure it was her. But, a couple of months of home-cooked Korean food and the additional pounds disappeared. While in Akron, she travelled to more U.S. spots—Manhattan, Niagara Falls, California, and Florida. It was on an 18-hour drive to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that Ha began to consider just how large the U.S. was. “When we left Ohio, the roads were covered with snow, but as we got closer to Florida, the sun came out and the air conditioner came on,” she laughs. “You would never experience such a difference in climate change travelling in Korea. I was amazed.”

Ha selected the U.S. to pursue her graduate studies including a master’s degree in professional accounting from the University of Texas at Austin, a master of science degree in finance from Boston College, and a Ph.D. in accounting from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Ha loved her time in Boston enjoying the academic culture of the city with so many great schools and students in the mix. And then there was graduate school in Texas—a state seven times the size of South Korea. “When I first got to Austin, I was pretty sure I was in the middle of nowhere—it was nothing like I had ever seen in South Korea. But then, when I moved to Stillwater, Okla., I realized THAT really is the middle of nowhere. Although, I did get to experience having to run down to the basement during tornado warnings on several occasions.” Not exactly the stuff of bright lights and big cities.

Her hobbies—as her travels—vary greatly. A classically trained pianist since the age of five, she was encouraged to pursue a career as a concert pianist but opted for the path to academia instead. She lists as her favorite composers Beethoven and Mozart and Gustav Mahler (a recently acquired favorite after attending a concert by the Louisiana Philharmonic Symphony). She loves jazz piano and is eager to pick up a class in the subject and learn to play. Her favorite jazz pianist—Oscar Peterson. “I love his music,” she adds.

Snowboarding is another favorite activity, although she hasn’t had much opportunity to do that since moving to Louisiana. She learned to snowboard growing up in South Korea and tried out her skills in Keystone, Colo.—another favorite U.S. spot. Ha said she’s pretty good at the sport and enjoys the speed of flying down the mountain and just being outdoors in the fresh air.

She loves dogs, and last but not least, is her interest in all things yoga. Ha says she has been told by friends that she reminds them of an octopus—it’s as though she has no bones and can get herself into some pretty weird poses. (She refused to supply photos as proof.)

With master’s degrees in both accounting and finance, it is not surprising that her research interests lie in both areas. In 2011, she presented a paper titled “Agency costs of free cash flow and conditional conservatism” at the American Accounting Association annual meeting proceedings in Denver. She looks forward to collaborating with her Loyola CoB colleagues on future papers.

So don’t be surprised to see this snowboarding-pianist-yoga enthusiast-accounting professor touring around in her blue Ford mustang, map in hand, looking for the ultimate crawfish delicacy.

View the complete spring 2012 issue of Loyola Executive.

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