A teacher who has done it all

By Leeza Earl

Leeva Chung, a communication studies professor at USD, has done much more than teach in a classroom.

Before she became a professor, Chung had 30 part time jobs, including working in passport visa offices, selling eel skins in Tennessee, selling men’s suits at Macy’s and DJing at KPOO rap radio station in San Francisco, where she had the opportunity to meet artists such as the rapper Too $hort. In addition to her many jobs, she has made an impact on the San Diego Community as a founder of the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

In 1998 Chung joined USD’s communication studies department. Two years later, she launched the Asian Film Festival. The festival’s goal is to educate the San Diego community about the Asian Pacific Islanders through media art such as films, workshops and speakers.

After receiving an invitation from Channel 10 News anchor Lee Ann Kim to start the festival, Chung became the volunteer coordinator, later recruiting communication studies department chair Kristin Moran to help.

“Lee Ann Kim needed a place [for the festival] and USD came up as a potential,” Chung said. “So, I got on board and became a founding member and coordinator for USD.”

The San Diego Asian Film Festival was hosted at USD for its inaugural year and is now one of the largest Festivals in San Diego. The festival occurs every year and will be celebrating its 14th annual this Nov. 7-14.

Communication Studies major and junior Katrina Bess had her first experience of the Asian Film Festival last semester as a requirement for Chung’s class.

“Going to the Asian Film Festival was a culturally enriching experience, one of which I would have never had if it wasn’t for Professor Chung,” Bess said.

The creators wanted to expose the broader community to Asian-American cinema while providing a platform for independent artists. The films that are featured range from animation to documentary.
On opening night the festival sold out with an audience of more than 600 viewers.

To this day, it is still growing.

“The festival has blossomed into the Pacific Arts Movement and is by far one of the most highly attended festivals in California,” Chung said. “I am blessed to be a part of this.”
Throughout her 15 years as a faculty member at USD, Chung has impacted many students in various ways.

Chung’s influence on students show as USD graduates come back to the classroom to mentor her current students.

“Chung is a fantastic teacher,” junior Andrew James said. “Her approach is all about hands-on learning and it really helped us learn a lot during her class; plus she made some of the most boring parts of the course really fun.”

Chung’s unique teaching style has formed a creative learning environment for her students and their academic growth. She incorporates life lessons into her classroom in addition to many hands-on learning projects to keep her students focused and to keep their creativity flowing. In Chung’s small groups class students are creating a music video. This allows students to think about their role in situations such as directing, singing in or producing a video. This is just one of the many learning activities that her classes contain.

Although Chung teaches several communication studies classes, her interest of study is intercultural communication and identity. This involves studying the similarities and differences between values, languages, adaption and many more.

Receiving her BA in Communication Studies at San Francisco State University, Chung began her undergraduate career as an ethnic studies major. She then switched her major twice and finally decided on communication studies. Because she was undeclared as a senior, Chung obtained her degree in 6 years. Chung continued her education with a Masters in communication studies at California State University California State University at Fullerton and a PhD at the University of Oklahoma.

Chung stated it was rough getting to where she is now but plans to continue her hard work with her students and department. She hopes that her career here at USD will continue to grow and students will continue contributing to the learning environment.