Waterdown acupuncturist Jae Joo has an insatiable appetite for learning – and It’s clear from the diplomas and certificates that adorn his office wall that he has spent much of his 68 years studying a variety of disciplines.
Indeed, the wall space at Waterdown Acupuncture Clinic on Main Street South isn’t large enough to carry all of his diplomas and he has had to store the surplus on the bookshelves below. However, he has found room to display his latest achievement, a PhD in oriental medicine from American Liberty University in Newport Beach, California. It took seven years for him to complete his doctorate. Normally, it would take four years, but Joo has a business to run, so he had to take breaks from his studying. “There is so much work to be done,” he said.
Since emigrating to Canada from his native South Korea in 1979, Joo has found many outlets to satisfy his passion for learning. He studied in China, Canada and the United States to become a Chinese medical practitioner, which includes providing acupuncture, herbal medicine and tuina, a combination of chiropractry and physiotherapy.
A resident of Waterdown since 1988, Joo obtained a master’s degree in engineering from Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld. shortly after moving to Canada at the age of 33. He worked as project engineer at the university until moving to Toronto in 1985.
“It’s important to keep learning more and more, not only for myself but to make society better and healthier.”
He holds four master’s degrees. Besides one in engineering, he has one in science and two in theology. He also has a diploma in sex and drug counselling. He received his degree as a Chinese medical practitioner in 2002 from the Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where he later worked as a member of the teaching faculty. Before that, he studied at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Bejing.
He is a pastor at the World Mission Church in Toronto and has been a medical missionary for the past several years, having travelled to 17 countries, including South Africa, Botswana, China, Turkey, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua.
More important than obtaining degrees is the desire to “keep learning,” Joo said. His thirst for knowledge is his motivation to keep on learning. “The degrees don’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s important to keep learning more and more, not only for myself but to make society better and healthier.”
While receiving a PhD as a senior citizen may seem unusual, Joo said it isn’t all that uncommon in the field of Chinese medicine to receive a doctorate later in life. His thesis was entitled, A Comparative Study on Diabetes Research Between Western Medicine and Oriental Medicine. It is a subject that interests him a great deal as diabetes affects the lives of so many.
“We lose one person to diabetes every seven seconds in the world,” he said. He recites other findings of various studies with ease. “Close to 20 per cent of seniors have diabetes. More than half of all amputations are caused by diabetes. One out of four Canadians have problems with diabetes.”
Joo suggests that diabetes can be better controlled by working in the community and with schools to raise awareness of the disease, particularly among young people, so they can adjust their lifestyles and diets to prevent it.
Joo’s wife, Sunny, and their three daughters, Janice, Julie and Joyce, travelled to California in May to attend the convocation ceremony and congratulate Joo on his achievement.