Why I Give: Matthew Schafer '09

Meet Dr. Matthew Schafer, class of 2009. A chemistry major at Augustana and a native of Worthington, Minnesota, Schafer is an emergency medicine resident at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

We caught up with him to learn more about his life, career and why he supports Augustana.

Q. What's a typical day like for you?

A. In emergency medicine there is no such thing as a “typical day.” It all depends what comes through the door that day. To an outside viewer, it can look like pandemonium; we like to call it “organized chaos.” At this moment, I just finished a trauma surgery rotation and am now at the children’s hospital doing a pediatric ER rotation. The best depiction I can give you of what the ER is like is by having you watch a new documentary set to be released February 24 called “Code Black.” Created by an emergency resident, he films a day in the life in the ER. He discusses and films real-life situations over his four years of training. I highly recommend it.

Q. Can you share a favorite memory from your time at Augie?

A. I'd have to say it was freshman year when we turned the hallways of Bergsaker into a slip n’ slide. We had a rowdy group of guys on my floor that year and were always keeping the RAs on their toes.

Q. Favorite professor and why?

A. Dr. Gary Earl (Chemistry). He was a great mentor and a motivating teacher. His door was always open if you wanted to talk. One of my favorite conversations with him was as a freshman. I was in his office making all sorts of excuses why I didn’t do well on an exam, saying there was no way I could make it to med school with grades like this. He replied by saying, "You know the world needs ditch diggers, too."

Let's just say I turned it around on the next exam. He was really one of a kind.

Q. What inspires you to give back to Augustana?

A. As I move forward in my career, I realize how much Augustana contributed to my success and prepared me for what was ahead. The education I received was second to none and provided a strong foundation for me to excel. I give so that others may have the same opportunities that I did and to show my appreciation.

Q. How did Augustana help prepare you for your career?

A. I really couldn’t be more satisfied and proud of the education I received from Augie. My chemistry major required a considerable amount of effort, but was rewarding. Class sizes were small and received a lot of individualized teaching. The research I completed during my time at Augie earned me a publication and helped me grow a lot as an academic. My degree truly opened doors for me into medical school where it made the strenuous curriculum seem not so bad.

Q. What's been your greatest professional accomplishment so far?

A. In today’s society, accomplishments are often cited as awards, scholarships, trophies, job titles, etc. For me, my greatest accomplishments are walking out the doors of the ER after a shift knowing I helped someone, that I made a difference.