Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at one o’clock, Stephanie Schaefer walks into a classroom with her classmates and waits patiently for their professor to begin class. Stephanie has the privilege to learn under the teaching of none other than her own father, Dr. Paul Schaefer. The father/daughter – student/professor relationship is a rare occurrence for Grove City College, and Stephanie does not take it for granted one bit. She is halfway through her sophomore year and this is the second time she is taking a class with her dad. If she has her way, it is not going to be the last. Following in her father’s footsteps, Stephanie studies Biblical and Religious Studies with a minor in Business. Since she has chosen the same major that her dad chairs, she will have a class with him almost every semester. To some that may be too much quality family time, but for Stephanie it’s not weird. She views her dad just like she does any other professor, and does not face any unique challenges or pressures while sitting under his academic authority.
The Schaefer family came to Grove City in 1997 from Iowa, so Stephanie has been establishing her roots here at the school for two decades. She recalls coming to campus prior to being a GCC student to visit her dad and walk around the campus. Now, she is able to hang out in the Religious Studies suite with her dad, Dr. Bibza, and Dr. Byun. Stephanie says that having her dad on campus is “a good way to stay connected inside the school,” and allows her to see things from a different perspective than most students do at Grove City College.
Rather than following the steps of her brother, who attends the Art Institute in Pittsburgh, she decided to follow her dad to Grove City College and has not regretted her decision. She has been able to connect with both students and professors which allows her to have a better appreciation for the community on campus. Not only is she enriched by the GCC community, but because she attends the same school as her dad, she has a first hand appreciation for the hard work and knowledge to which her dad dedicates his time.
The Schaefer family resemblance usually does not go unnoticed by Stephanie’s friends and classmates, and it is not uncommon for her to be questioned if they are related in some way. Stephanie states, “Sometimes people realize it and call me out on it before I even officially meet them, but sometimes people have no idea. I think most of the time people realize it though.”
Having your dad as a professor has many positive aspects, but Stephanie has had her share of challenges when students realize that her dad is their professor for their Biblical Revelation or Western Civilization class. She has been asked by some students to do favors for them. For example, she has had classmates deliberately ask her to try to get her dad to move a quiz or test to a different date, or even ask her to get answers for them. She says some students assume that since she is Dr. Schaefer’s daughter, she has access to the answer keys. Despite the irritations and occasional awkward request, Stephanie wouldn’t change her decision to attend the same school as her dad. Attending Grove City College has not only allowed her to become more connected to the campus, but more importantly, in her relationship with him.