Conversations and more: A faculty profile of Julia Chavez, Ph.D

Prachi Gohil, Roving Editor


For a faculty spotlight, our roaming editor Prachi Gohil interviewed Julia Chavez Ph.D, Professor of English at Saint Martin’s University. 

“Spending years and years of your life doing one thing doesn’t absolutely close off the doors to other things. I went to college knowing I would be an English Major, but towards the end of my college experience, I was thinking about careers, what do I want, who do I want to be? One of the options was to be an English Professor or take the more professional route and go to law school. In my senior year, I decided to be practical and went ahead with law.

I loved the intellectual aspects of law and I really like learning. It is very intricate when you talk about laws and how they intersect. To gain experience and knowledge, I took up summer internships, and after graduating, I took the bar exam and landed in legal publishing. I was a part of the law journal – another editing job where I was to read articles and provide feedback. I never felt unhappy in this area of study, but I just had the feeling that I missed literature, so I gravitated back towards what I had originally loved studying.

Although I was always connected to literature, I missed being actively involved, so at that point I took a turn and went back to grad school to complete a master’s degree and then a Ph.D. 

The reason why I felt more content with literature is that it is filled with life experiences and I enjoy creative thinking. My area of concentration during my Ph.D was Victorian novels, and I looked specifically at novels that were published in installments, which are stories that cannot be read in one sitting. I was really interested to know how viewer engagement changes if you are only allowed to have a part of it in hand. It is a very focused way to study literature in a cultural context. Even today, I continue to work on studies that focus on one-way reading.

In my leisure time, I work on projects that I have taken up. I am currently associated with a community farming project with other Saint Martin’s faculty members and community partners where members pitch in at different locations and grow local produce. In doing this, our goal is to generate donations in the community. The reason why I like to be a part of this activity is because it allows me to get away from technology and all things that suck us into rapid pace. It keeps me surrounded by nature and helps me enjoy some sunshine.

I have also taken up service learning and more hands-on work to engage interesting and interactive classroom sessions. For example, if we are in a class studying metaphors, then we can go outdoors and do hands-on work in the field which can then be connected to the classroom.  This activity helps students understand the importance of images and settings used in the text. As a teacher, it is rewarding when students find a deeper connection to the text and are able to narrate or write down inferences after this exercise.”

An assignment which was supposed to be a profile transformed into a conversation and so much more. Thank you for being so welcoming and cooperative during the interview.

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