Inside faculty’s full lives over the summer


Courtesy of Cristina Pardo-Ballester

Cristina Pardo-Ballester in Spain with her daughter.

For students, summer is a time for de-stressing and finally being able to get away from school work, but what do professors do while we’re relaxing?

Professors don’t finish as soon as us students do. Sherry Berghefer, senior lecturer in the Greenlee School, said for her, it tends to be mid-to-late May by the time she wraps things up completely.

Cristina Pardo-Ballester, associate professor in World Languages and Cultures, vacation starts even later.

“Many people think that I get time off when the spring semester ends, but this is not true because I am one of the co-directors of an [Iowa State] abroad program,” Pardo-Ballester said. “At the end of May I travel to Madrid, Spain to start our adventure with [Iowa State] students who signed up for the ISU on the Mediterranean summer program.

“Some students believe that directing a program is not work and that we are on vacation, but we do a great deal of work in Valencia.” 

Petruta Carmen Caragea, professor in statistics, said that the summer is a time to make progress on research projects.

“In practice, I take only very little time away from the university,” Caragea said. “My job [… ] involves a good amount of research. Summer, which is free of most teaching, is a good time to make progress on many research projects. […] I also serve as associate chair for the Department of Statistics, which means that I have several administrative duties that require me to be present in campus for some amount of time.”

Between research and other obligations on campus, professors keep just as busy during the summer as they do in the school year, but they also keep up with other hobbies.

“Instead of teaching, I use my summers for client work, since I’m still a practitioner,” Berghefer said. “Keeping active in the field is important to me and one of the ways I keep my skills sharp. I also use this time to focus on my art and try new things.”

Berghefer said she does Japanese paper cutting, called kiri-e, using X-acto knives and surgical scalpels. She has also been experimenting with abstract painting techniques for the past year or so.

Berghefer said most years, Berghefer and her family spend a lot of time boating or riding their family’s motorcycle.

Pardo-Ballester also said she tries to spend time with family throughout the summer.

“I am from Spain, so working in Valencia is a plus for me because at the end of the program I visit my family in Madrid and Granada,” Pardo-Ballester said. “I also visit my sisters in Paris and when possible we visit the Netherlands […] I try to spend as much time as possible in Europe because of my daughter. I want her to be exposed to the Spanish, Dutch and French languages and cultures.”

Caragea is originally from Romania, she said she tries to go home when her schedule permits. 

“I have not been home in the last five years, so I do hope to take a short trip this summer. My home town is on the coast of the Black Sea, so traveling home is very relaxing: besides seeing my family, I get to spend some time by the sea,” Caragea said.

While traveling is important to Caragea, she also discussed other hobbies she enjoys during the summer. She said she enjoys gardening, jewelry making, reading, traveling and hanging out with friends.

“Nowadays I have two very small children, though, so the last few summers have been a lot less about my hobbies or personal interests, and a lot more about theirs,” Caragea said.