Graduate student and course instructor Emilia Schempp has been working hard this semester—not only as a student, but as a course instructor in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation.  

Schempp is a second-year master’s student in the biomechanics sequence of the Kinesiology Master of Science program on campus. She initially became interested in the program near the end of her undergraduate career, where she figured out a way to combine her two undergraduate majors (physics and dance) that she enjoyed so much.

“I thought I would enjoy the rigid scientific side of biomechanics from my Bachelor of Science in physics and thought I would be able to apply my physical knowledge of the body in motion from my Bachelor of Arts in dance. It was the coming together of these two interests that initially drew me in,” said Schempp.

Besides being a student, Schempp has been instructing an aerobics course that meets in-person this semester. The course is part of the School of Kinesiology and Recreation’s Active for Life program, which consists of coursework that teaches students about specific sports or activities.

The course meets three times a week on campus and is completely in-person, catered to beginning exercisers or those new to aerobics. In class they focus on keeping things simple, getting everyone moving, and developing cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and strength.

She noted that COVID-19 precautions are in-place, and she makes sure to enforce mask requirements, maintain physical distancing, and sanitize all equipment each class period. The course’s enrollment limit was also decreased to ensure that there was enough space for students to move properly during class time.

While she wouldn’t call it a challenge, she mentioned that wearing a face mask while exercising and teaching has been an adjustment she had to get used to.

“Since I lead each workout and participate in the exercises during each class, I had to learn to project my voice more through the mask,” she explained. “By exercising together with my students, I think it has helped demonstrate that it is possible to stay active even with the face mask that may feel restrictive initially.”

Overall, Schempp is happy to be able to instruct a course on campus, given her background and past experiences.

“I have taught throughout my dance career and served as a lab instructor for physics courses throughout the years, so applying for a similar position at the graduate level seemed to be a way to continue developing my leadership and other professional skills,” she said.

Over time, she has learned how to balance schoolwork with her graduate teaching position, using time management skills gained over the course of her academic career.

“The work as a student can often feel overwhelming, so I enjoy my work as a graduate assistant because it provides a break and creative outlet in terms of creating and planning class sessions.”

A rewarding role

Schempp says that the excitement her students have showing up to class and achieving their goals each day is especially gratifying.

“For most students, my course is often their only in person class and many have told me that they enjoy the break from their online courses or simply getting out of their apartments, dorms, or houses. To provide students a way to remain active is so important to their physical and often their mental health,” she said. “It is extremely rewarding to see the students achieve physical goals simply by coming to class and being active. This also helps students to feel re-energized about their health and fitness moving forward after the course ends.”

With the semester just about halfway through, Schempp’s students continue to work toward meeting their own personal health and fitness goals and are excited to be able to show up to a class on campus every week.

“This motivates them to keep working hard and is definitely what makes my position so gratifying.”

Want to learn more about the courses offered in the Active for Life program? Check out the School of Kinesiology and Recreation’s website for more information.