Local News

Live Olé! The Heart of the USD Experience

Family is at the heart of the University of San Diego experience. For Julia Schafer, PhD, director of general chemistry and an adjunct assistant professor, that means taking an active role in the lives of her students while embracing her own role as a first-year Torero parent.

Schafer, who joined the USD faculty in 2005, affectionately refers to her students as her “kids,” and sees it as her role to offer encouragement.

“I feel very close to my students, so I love when they share their personal experiences in class,” she says. “That helps us connect.” 

For Schafer, it’s this connection that makes the difference for students, especially within the remote learning environment. “The classes are small, so in that remote setting, it’s not a sea of little emblems. You get to actually visit and have conversations with the students.”

While teaching chemistry lessons through a Zoom classroom has certainly been a unique experience, Schafer approaches each situation with optimism and an opportunity to enhance her students’ learning. From pre-recording lab experiments to helping students create step-by-step lab manuals for future chemistry courses, she’s motivated to ensure her students receive the best educational experience possible, whether that’s in-person or online.

Her experiences as a faculty member have also helped Schafer make a seamless transition to her other full-time USD job: Torero parent. “I am also a parent of a first-year [student] at USD and I am grateful for his experience,” she says. “He knows the instructors very well. He has made multiple friends because the classes are small. He’s never felt alone, and that has been really important with this remote learning, that you don’t feel isolated and alone. That you feel engaged.”

With the inability to meet in person right now, Schafer is encouraged by the efforts made by USD to ensure a positive learning experience. 

“We’re all in this place where we need to remain safe and the safest way to deliver content right now for everyone is in a remote setting. USD is putting its heart and soul into making sure it’s a good experience,” she says. “I see that in the background as an instructor so that’s how it helps me as a parent.”

— Allyson Meyer ’16 (BA), ’21 (MBA)