Father becomes daughter's UI classmate


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When Steven Jepson asked his daughter, Katie Jepson, if she would be OK about his joining her as a student at the University of Iowa, she only had one condition.

The Hawkeye piccolo player did not want her father to join the Hawkeye Marching Band.

But once Steven Jepson adhered to that condition, Katie Jepson said she was excited to be his classmate — for more than sentimental reasons.

"It's funny having him here … I personally don't mind it so much, because when he lived in North Carolina, I never saw him," she said. "But now I can stop by and ask him, 'Hey when can I come do my laundry?' "

Steven Jepson, a 51-year-old 1982 UI graduate, wanted to choose the best education when returning to school for a doctorate.

His alma mater seemed the obvious choice.

"You have all the apparel already," Katie Jepson joked.

He said hopes to have an emphasis in producing and directing operas and musicals.

"Reefer Madness, the musical, is a piece I would love to do at the UI," he said. "But I also think School House Rock would be a lot of fun."

He said coming back to school was a scary concept at first, considering how long it had been since he had been a student.

"I've been worried about keeping up," he said. "But once I realized that I'm here to learn and enjoy it, it's become a lot more rewarding."

This semester, the two are in the same voice studio class with UI Professor Stephen Swanson.

When Katie Jepson told Swanson that her father was considering coming to the UI, the professor asked her how she felt about the situation.

"She told me then that she thought it would be great, and from that point on I knew things would work," Swanson said. "The Jepsons have a great relationship, relaxed and supportive of each other. It is a real pleasure to have them both in my studio."

For this class, the two are also in the same seminar, which requires them to sing in front of the other students and get feedback from the professor.

Steven Jepson recalled the last time he had to sing in front of the class, and Katie Jepson wrote a critique on his performance.

"I was very blown away with how mature she is and how critical her ear was," Steven said. "At the end, when she had to write about what held her attention in the performance, she wrote, 'He's my daddy. I love you.' "

Katie Jepson said that her friends in the class are very impressed with her father's singing, and they see him more as a colleague than as her dad.

She described their first seminar and how she explained to her friends that she was going to go sit by her dad because he didn't have any friends.

Ultimately, in the dual role of father and fellow classmate, Steven Jepson said their relationship has evolved.

"Before she wouldn't listen to me, but now she'll occasionally ask me if I will help her with something," he said. "Now, she's not just looking at me like a dad but a colleague as well."

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