Intreview with Amanda Sunila, 04/24/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Alexis Kohne, Interviewer | uwocs_Amanda_Sunila_04242016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


AK: Okay, so it is April 24, 2016 around 11:00AM in Horizon. I am Alexis Kohne here with Amanda Sunila. So let's just start with where did you grow up?

AS: Sure, so I grew up in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin so it's about an hour south of here. My family came to Oshkosh all the time for boating during the summer so it was kind of a nice familiar area for me. But that's where I grew up!

AK: Could you describe your life there, what you did on a daily basis?

AS: Sure, most high school students, you know, go to after school sports. I was on dance team while I was there, pretty involved in some volunteer work throughout the community as well. And then I would work as well while I was in high school. I worked at a local custard place and then I worked at Walgreens too when I was old enough. So school, work, sports, pretty standard I think. (Laughs)

AK: What was your family life like, were they from around that area too?


AS: Yeah so my grandparents on my dad's side actually live next store to where I grew up. So my family is very close. All of my family is within twenty minutes on Menomonee Falls, so it's me, my mom and my dad and then my brother is a couple years younger than I am. So I grew up kind of on my own for a while and then eight years later I got a younger sibling so it made life interesting growing up with a younger brother.

AK: So what did your parents do for a living?

AS: My dad works for a truck manufacturing company so he sells truck body parts so like dump trucks, all the bodies that they put together. And then my mom is an administrative assistant, so she works in an office.

AK: Okay, what sort of things were you taught to practice and value growing up?

AS: Always being honest and kind of working your hardest, setting a goal and getting towards that. Doing your best even if it's not your favorite thing. I 2:00was never a fan of math growing up but it was always like do your best, get through it, you're still putting forth your best effort which is most important.

AK: So you would say that impacted you a lot? You went off your parents values?

AS: Yeah absolutely. Going through, you know, even when I got to Oshkosh, I struggled in some areas and it's just finding what you like and pushing through a challenge so never giving up.

AK: Okay, and then you said you had one sibling right?

AS: Yup!

AK: It was a younger one?

AS: Yup!

AK: Okay, were you pretty close with him?

AS: We were eight years apart, so we were kind of in different places in our life. So now I've been out of college for a while and he is a sophomore in college so it's, you know, we are getting closer as we get older. it's not like we have a ton in common because we are so far apart but you know he's still my little brother and all that. (Laughs)

AK: So you were pretty close with all your family? Like were you close with all of your extended family too? Did they live nearby or were they pretty far?

AS: Yeah, so all of my family is in Wisconsin, aunts, uncles, everyone. I think 3:00the furthest relative is maybe 45 minutes away. So it's kind of nice having everyone pretty close by. Anytime I would come home on holidays or just be home on a weekend you never whose coming over which is a good and a bad thing. (Laughs)

AK: that's how my family is too. So who had the largest impact on you, or who inspired you the most when you were growing up?

AS: Hmmm, I think, oh boy that's a really hard question. I feel like it's really cliche to say your mom or your dad (Laughs). I mean I would say both of my parents equally. Probably more my mom. My mom has been, you know you're going to go to school and pay your way through and kind of figure out where you belong. She's always encouraged me to go after my interests instead of just settling for 4:00something that is an easier path. I changed my major like four or five times while I was here and she was always just encouraging me like, okay you're on your path, you're just figuring out what you want to do. So, she's always just been a drive and a motivator behind reaching those goals, you know, continuing on even when there's barriers and things.

AK: Would you say your dad was pretty much the same way?

AS: Yeah, my dad is the same way. You know, at some points he's kind of a hard head, you know, you can't keep changing your mind, you have to figure it out, you have to figure it out. My mom was kind of more understanding with being more of a, I don't want to say free spirit, but liking a lot of different things. (Laughs)

AK: Supportive?

AS: Yeah, exactly.

AK: Okay, so describe the neighborhood that you grew up in, does your family still like there right now?

AS: Yup, my family has lived there my whole life, so my parents built our house and we moved in right around my first birthday and they've been there ever 5:00since. They're now starting to look at maybe moving other places but with me staying in the same school system and my brother going to the same school district, having friends in the area, it's a really nice kind of suburban community, pretty middle class not anything really fancy or you know, we weren't struggling. So it's just a nice area.

AK: So you go back there a lot?

AS: Yup! Now living in Madison, my fiancé and I were in St. Louis for a couple years for him to go to school and now we are back in Madison area. So being just an hour and half away is nice to go back and visit family because some people live states away from family (Laughs) so it's nice to only have a short drive.

AK: I understand that.

AS: They are close.

AK: Were there any other groups or organizations that were important to you in the life of you or your family? Like any churches or things you were really involved in?

AS: We were pretty involved in my dance team growing up in my high school 6:00because you had practice year round and always different events going on, when I was younger both my brother and I were involved in girl scouts and boy scouts so that was something that continued throughout middle school. And then I was a camp counselor while I was in college during the summers, so that's something we were involved with but otherwise I can't think of any big organizations or anything.

AK: Yeah, that's still important to you, those things.

AS: Right, yeah.

AK: Could you describe the schools you attended prior to UW Oshkosh, like your elementary school, middle school, high school?

AS: Sure, so my, our school district was kind of weird when I was growing up. We had like four middle schools, or four elementary schools, two middle schools, a junior high and a high school and then as I grew up they kind of started combining so I went to Shady Lane Elementary, it's right down the street from my Grandmas house so it would always kind of be a little walk to her place after school. Just a nice, quiet area that the school was in. Middle school, you know 7:00and junior high were pretty much the same and then the high school, they were all in the same district. So it was nice. In high school, I did consider transferring districts just because we lived kind of on the border of a county so I was closer to another high school so it's like I am driving twenty five minutes to high school and there is another high school five minutes away, but I ended up just staying where I was at.

AK: Okay, your middle school and junior high were separate?

AS: Yeah

AK: that's different!

AS: Yeah, so we did K through 5 and it was funny because I actually did kindergarten where I ultimately went to middle school at because when I was in kindergarten, the middle school was an elementary school.

AK: Okay.

AS: So I started at Thomas Jefferson elementary, moved to Shady Lane elementary and then went to Thomas Jefferson as a middle school for 6th and 7th grade and then I did junior high 8th and 9th grade and the 10 through 12 was at the high school.


AK: Okay, well that's different (Laughs) normally it's like pretty strict, K through 5, then 6th, 7th and 8th and then 9 through 12.

AS: Yeah and that's how it is now our high school just wasn't big enough to hold four grades. So my senior year of high school they ended up passing a referendum to do a big renovation. And my brothers class, so eight years behind me was one of the first graduating classes to do all four years at the new high school.

AK: Wow

AS: A little bit of transition there but we at least we were in the same district and didn't have to-

AK: Yeah same area. Okay, how important was education and grades to your family. Were your parents pretty strict on grades?

AS: Yeah (Laughs) I am kind of a perfectionist and I don't want to say I blame my parents but that's very strongly how I was influenced growing, I hold myself to a really high standard. I knew that if I came home with you know a C, I was not going to want to bring that home to mom and dad. I remember I got a D in a 9:00Spanish class in college and I was like oh my gosh, I can't tell my mom and dad, this is awful. And I struggled with math in high school so coming home with you know C's my parents would be like what's going on with you, these are not your normal grades because it was an A and B type household and if there was a C it was not a fun conversation. (Laughs)

AK: I understand my parents are the same way. (Laughs)

AS: (Laughs) They are a little more relaxed with my little brother so that's a little frustrating but not everyone's the same. (Laughs)

AK: I understand that. So, what kind of student were you then? Pretty on top of everything?

AS: Yeah, pretty on top of everything, set deadlines, due dates, making sure things were in on time. I would say I'm still that way in my professional life.

AK: Yeah, very organized?

AS: Yeah, very organized, my fiance would, drive him a little bit crazy with how detail orientated I am sometimes, but everything gets paid on time and everything gets done in an orderly fashion.

AK: Yeah, that's what is important!

AS: Exactly!

AK: Okay, what were your goals for yourself as a young person and then did those 10:00differ from your parents goals for you?

AS: I think, I'm a first generation college student so I think my goal was I want to get an education and you know, live a life comfortably, not that my parents didn't and don't but I just wanted that for myself, I wanted to go to school and I wanted to get an education and help people, that's really all I knew coming in and my parents wanted the same for me. They wanted me to go you know, get a college degree and go to school and figure it out and be successful and I think we've gotten to that point so it's good.

AK: that's good! When did you first start to think about attending college? Like was is it in high school or did you have the plan all along?

AS: It was in high school. I think I took my ACT as a sophomore in high school because I really just wanted to take and see what it was like and then I took again as a junior and I was applying my junior year to colleges for a year out, 11:00again being very meticulous in planning and wanting to be organized. I kind of wanted to know where I was going and have options so I've been researching college

AK: For a long time?

AS: Yeah for a long time, especially since you, you know, my parents never did it with any other kids, for themselves, they're not, they didn't know the process so I'm like I need to know as much as possible to make a good decision.

AK: Okay, where did you all consider going?

AS: Well when I was in high school, junior year I was like I'm going to go to San Diego State, I am going to go out of state to school and I am just going to get out of Wisconsin and then we started looking at tuition and was like I can't afford out of state I am going to stay in Wisconsin (Laughs). So we looked at, I looked at UW Milwaukee, Madison, Viterbo, La Crosse and Oshkosh. So I was kind of keeping my options open and that the time I really wanted to go into nursing and I knew that Oshkosh has a great nursing school, Viterbo is a private school 12:00in La Crosse, they have a great nursing program as well so that was kind of where I was going. I looked at Milwaukee because it was close to home but it was too metropolitan and I looked at Madison and it was way too big. I came from, I mean my high school was a graduate class of about 400, so it wasn't small but I felt completely lost on Madison's campus. Now looking back as a grown up, I go to Madison all the time and I'm like oh I love it here but as an 18 year old that was not going to be a good fit.

AK: No, I understand that. Did your friends or family influence you when you were looking at these places?

AS: Not really. I had a pretty serious high school boyfriend, as serious as high school boyfriends get, and he was looking at schools too but we had agreed don't tell me where you decide to apply too and go to so there wasn't that influence, but I had a couple friends looking at La Crosse and Whitewater but I kind of made sure it was my decision.


AK: Yeah, did your own thing?

AS: Yeah

AK: Well that's good!

AS: Yeah because you don't want to go to school and base four years of your life on someone else's decision and what they life.

AK: And then you said you intended to study nursing?

AS: Uh-huh

AK: Okay! Why did you decide Oshkosh?

AS: (Laughs) I visited as a junior in high school and then I visited and then I came back and visited Oshkosh again. I think I probably came for three campus visits to UW-Oshkosh before I was like, yup this is where I need to be. I feel like if you visit a campus twice you should probably go there. But my family boats on Lake Winnebago so I was really comfortable with the area but Jill Endries in admissions kind of gave me my final push. Nothing she said to me personally but it's a story she tells as part of her greeting to anyone visiting campus. it's about shoes, like picking running shoes. I don't know if you remember this from-


AK: Yeah I don't think I do!

AS: So she tells the story about running shoes and she's avert runner. So you go to the Nike Outlet or whatever and you put on a pair of shoes and you're like, oh yeah these feel great but you're not going to walk out trying on one pair of shoes. So you leave one shoe on from the first pair and you put a second pair on. So you've got a left shoe from the first pair and a right shoe from the second pair and you're like oh this second pair feels much better than the first. So it's like comparing colleges as to comparing running shoes and I'm like yup! This is where I need to be! That analogy just really put it into perspective for me, like this is a good fit, I'm comfortable here. So that's kind of how I choose Oshkosh.

AK: Wow!

AS: And it's really funny because I started working as an Odyssey captain with admissions and I told her one time, you do realize that your shoe story is what influenced me to go here and every day for Odyssey she tells the story so I've heard it over and over and over again throughout 5, 6 summers working on campus 15:00and every time I heard it I was like yup still the story that I know and helped influenced my decision.

AK: Wow, that's crazy!

AS: it's kind of funny. it's like how'd you decide to go to Oshkosh and I'm like this lady told a story about shoes and it was just I don't know, the tipping point.

AK: Okay! So what did you all know about the school before you attended it?

AS: I did research online, and you know, brochures from my guidance counselor at school and looked at different kind of ACT Scores and acceptance rates and types of programs because, like I said, I thought I wanted to be a nurse but I'm like, I don't know exactly what I want to do so just other major options that were interesting to me kind of helped that but location, comfortable with the city. So just researching what was around here and how close it was to home I guess.

AK: Okay, what were you feeling the closer you got to beginning college, were 16:00you really nervous, were you excited?

AS: I think I was really excited. I had like a small group of friends in high school and I was just really ready to branch out and you know, start fresh I guess in college. You go through four years of high school with the same people and I'm like oh I don't like these people anymore, I don't want to hang out with all these people because you're constantly together. I was like, I am ready to meet new people and kind of branch out and not be stuck in the same root so to speak.

AK: Yeah, I felt the same way, I understand that.

AS: Yeah, I mean obviously its super nerve wrecking and very anxious, like what if I move into my dorm and I don't like my roommate which you know, you're familiar with roommate issues. I had roommate issues and that was right before Facebook so I had just gotten a Facebook when I graduated high school and I am like trying to find people that are going to be in my hall and it's scary you know, you're moving away from home and I remember coming home my first semester 17:00and I'm like I don't want to go back, I don't want to go back, but then the next semester after that I'm just going to stay for the summer, I don't need to come home anymore.

AK: Yup I was the same way. I was very, first semester I was very nervous and I was like I don't like it here and then you get very used to it.

AS: Yup and then you find your friends. AK: Yeah, you find your little group.

AS: Yes exactly.

AK: So, you said that the proximity from home influenced your decision a lot?

AS: Mm-hmm

AK: So like an hour, hour and a half?

AS: Yup it's about an hour!

AK: Yup that's about how far I am too.

AS: Yup it's about an hour from driveway from parking lot up here (Laughs). So it was nice because I knew it was far enough where I knew it wasn't going to run into my grandma at the grocery store but it's close enough where if there was an emergency or I needed someone or something I was only an hour away.

AK: Okay, yeah I understand that. So what were the years you attended here?

AS: I was here, I started fall of 2007 and then I graduated in December of 2011, but then I started my masters right away so I did my masters and my bachelors 18:00here and I graduated with my masters in August of 2013. So it will be three years this August.

AK: Okay! What do you remember about your first couple weeks here at school? Like how were you feeling?

AS: I think I was really excited but also kind of feeling lost. In high school I never really had to study that much and being first semester pre-nursing student it hits you really hard that I am in Chemistry, Biology, and Sociology and Psychology and I'm like oh my gosh I actually had to study. So I think it was trying to find things to get involved with, making new friends but also focusing on school because ultimately that's why you are here. (Laughs) it's for school so I think making time to study and finding out how I study

AK: Yeah a little overwhelmed.

AS: Mm-hmm yeah, so I know I took like an intro to study skills class so I was like this kind of was helping but well, who knows we will see what happens. (Laughs)


AK: Okay, what were your classes and I am assuming you took gen eds. in the beginning?

AS: Yeah I think I had a history and a psychology class in my first couple of years or my first two years and then some Spanish, sorry.

AK: Not a fan?

AS: Well in high school I transferred in like 17 credits of Spanish to Oshkosh, so when I did my placement test for Spanish I tested into junior level Spanish as a freshmen so I came from graduating high school in June, the whole summer off, I couldn't fit a Spanish class in my first semester so then it was second semester jumping into 300 level Advanced Conversation and Grammar. I fell flat on my face because I'm like, okay my professors not speaking any English and I am two years younger than all of these other students in my class and like I was so lost. I mean I made it through the class but you know, just getting accustom 20:00to that learning style that's scary and you know I changed my major to nursing to just biology my second semester so I decided nursing was not the route after I did some shadowing over my winter break and then just came back I was a straight biology major. I think my friends very heavily influenced that because I had two nursing friends, two straight biology friends and then a girl that was biology with a health care minor so I was like oh all my friends are in these classes, this is what I am going to do and I will tell you I did not finish a degree in biology. (Laughs)

AK: Yeah that's tough. Nursing is very hard here.

AS: Yeah, what are you studying?

AK: I'm Psychology.

AS: Okay.

AK: But I have a lot of friends that do nursing and when they get into the program, it's like the best day, it's tough!

AS: Yes it is! I know one of my girlfriends. She didn't get in right away and she was just heartbroken but then she got in the next semester and she is 21:00working as a nurse now. She's got her dream job in labor and delivery so she's excited and happy but I mean I think that's a huge draw for students, especially with the new renovations that just happened, it's like phenomenal technology that students are having access too and its great but you've got to know if it's for you or not because if it's not for you, you are potentially taking a seat from someone else. (Laughs)

AK: Yeah it's tough, it's a tough program.

AS: It is, they made it through. I jumped ship early enough. (Laughs)

AK: that's okay! So how did you do you your first semester of college? Were you still a pretty good A/B student or were your struggling a little bit?

AS: I did pretty well my first year, it's the second years where I got into some of the more advanced biology, chemistry, that's where I kind of started being like a B/C student because I was also really involved in other things but my first year I did well, I joined a sorority, I had lots of friends, I was volunteering, doing all of these different things and still being able to you 22:00know, hold A's and B's in class.

AK: So you joined your sorority right away?

AS: Mm-hmm.

AK: Can you tell me a little bit about it?

AS: Yeah, I joined Alpha Xi Delta my freshman year first semester. (Laughs) I was just like, I knew when I went to college I was like I want to join a sorority and my mom's like don't do it those girls are going to be mean and awful and I was like no, I am going to do it. So I did it and my roommate pledged a different sorority as well and some of my best friends to this day did not go Greek but they were kind of there with be through the whole process. it's really stressful, I mean its two weeks of going to school, other I mean studying, and going to these events where you're meeting hundreds of different women from different organizations and it's a lot but it was so much.

AK: Yeah it was worth it?

AS: Yeah definitely worth it, I am actually having lunch with one of my little sis from the sorority after this so I still keep in touch with a lot of the 23:00girls and I think they really help me come out of my shell. I don't want to say I was quiet in high school but you know just being able to confident and go up to someone and be like hey my name's Amanda, I am an Alpha Xi Delta, what are you doing? You know, while you are here at school. Just that confidence factor really helped.

AK: And you were in it all four years?

AS: Yup! All four years and then when I was in grad school I was still kind of around and involved as much as you can be while you are a grad student. (Laughs)

AK: Wow, I'm not in one so I don't know much about them.

AS: Yeah it's fun. I mean there is a lot of other extra-curricular, whether it's volunteering, or social events, just meeting other people. Just it gets a little hectic sometimes, my planner is my best friend, still is to this day but I think the leadership skills and my confidence and just the support is really great.

AK: Yeah, it's helped you still till to this day?

AS: Yes absolutely, I actually when we lived in St. Louis I helped advise a chapter of my sorority down there and now in Madison they have a brand new 24:00chapter, so I am kind of getting involved with alumni in that area

AK: Well that's nice!

AS: Yeah, it's kind of cool. it's a really good networking opportunity which is so kind of cliche to say but it nice because you can go anywhere and be like oh you're in Alpha Xi Delta? Me too, and you kind of have that instant connection, you might not be best friends with that person but at least you have something in common.

AK: Yeah something to talk about.

AS: Yeah.

AK: Okay, so you said you went through a lot of majors, could you tell me about that process?

AS: Oh yes, so is started at pre-nursing and then I did some shadowing my winter break and I shadowed in the NICU because my aunt is, one of the nursing supervisor at our community hospital and I passed out cold on the NICU floor.

AK: Really?

AS: Yes like watching them put an IV in a premature baby I just fell flat over on the floor, passed out and I was like yeah nursing isn't for me. I don't like needles and I don't like blood.


AK: Yeah, I do not like needles either!

AS: Yeah I don't understand why I thought that was going to be a good fit. I'm like, oh I want to help people, there's other ways to help to help people which is good. So then I have had contacts since I was in third grade, so I'm like, oh I could be an optometrist. So I did two years in the biology program after that so it was biology pre-optometry. Well by the time organic chemistry II and you know, anatomy came along, I was looking at my grades and I'm like ugh, I you know, 3.1 is not going to get me into optometry school and I just wasn't doing what I needed to do. So I went to my advisor and I am like I'm struggling, I have no idea what to do and he's like well let's take a semester off of the biology and do something else so I didn't fully change my major but I was kind of biology undeclared and I took some political science classes to round out some electives I had been missing so I was technically undecided but leaning political science maybe law school again with my GPA I don't know where I was 26:00going with that. (Laughs) But then I talked with my Greek life advisor and I'm like you know what, I like working students because I was involved in Greek like and volunteerism and I like working with students, I want to work on a college campus. I was like how did you get to where you were? So she's like I basically picked a major that was going to get me through, didn't really need a lot of focus and then I went to grad school so I went back to my advisor and I go okay, I am going into my senior year, I don't want to be here for six years as an undergrad, and I'm like what is, how can I get these skills, like leadership, communications, and counseling and still graduate within a timely matter. So I went to human services. So my last three semesters because I graduated in December, I was human services. So my bachelors is human services leadership and those classes, straights A's for three semesters.

AK: Really?

AS: it's amazing when you find your nitch and what you want to be involved in, 27:00it's amazing what happens. I actually liked going to class, I was doing well in my classes, I was enjoying them. I mean, because you had be in organic chemistry and I'm like I just don't get this. it's like staring at a brick wall and expecting the answer to just come flying at your face. So human services is what I ended at, so I think that's like 3 or 4 majors changing

AK: that's crazy you went from biology to human services!

AS: Uh-huh!

AK: Totally different fields!

AS: Totally different! it's funny, I work kind of in college advising now and I see students they are like, oh yeah I started as nursing but now I want a counselor and I am like oh I totally understand your path! Somewhat, everyone's reasons are different but yeah!

AK: Okay! And then you said your Greek advisor influenced you probably the most to choose Human Services?

AS: Yeah, she kind of gave me that push to really go and think about Grad school afterwards, and then I worked in the volunteerism office as well and the 28:00volunteerism coordinator, Mike, was really influential too. he's like you know what, these are great classes you are taking, kind of giving me advice of other outside the classroom things I should be getting involved in so I can have more experience in higher ed. because if anyone wants to go into higher education, whether it's advising or you know, working as a residence hall director, wearing many hats opens many different doors. So I've worked in the alumni house, I worked in admissions, I worked in volunteerism, I worked with Greek life so learning a lot about, or a little about a lot different things has been helpful.

AK: Okay, were there any specific classes or professors that stand out to you still to this day?

AS: This might sound weird, I had a domestic violence class. My senior year as part of my human services degree and it was such an emotional and raw class. The professor that taught it, her name is Tony, and I can't remember her last name 29:00to save my life. I was just talking to someone about this the other day. Anyways, she shared her personal story, people in our class shared personal stories, whether it was themselves or family members that were victims of domestic violence and it was just such an emotionally raw class and people shared things and I'm like oh my gosh, looking at someone you don't know what they've been through until they share with the class. So it was constantly crying and just growth and learning about you know, not being, not judging a book my it's cover or assuming someone has a somewhat typical path through life because everyone's experiences are different. So that class was really, really beneficial as an undergraduate student. Masters classes were always very focused on you know, adolescent development and learning about the college student experience from an advising stand point, so those were great, still applicable 30:00to what I do now. I am going to say something super cheesy, my intro to chem or my chem II class was very influential because that's where I met my fiancé, was in our chemistry class so that was always one of my favorites. (Laughs)

AK: I was going to ask, did you have any relationships while you were here?

AS: Yup! So, my quote serious boyfriend in high school and I broke up our first semester, I was like yeah we are going separate ways. So there were always people with Greek life that we would go to formals with or hang out with or whatever through other friends. One of my girlfriends was dating a soccer player so we always hung out with those guys but I met my fiancé in chemistry and he was involved in Greek life too and I didn't make that connection until all of a sudden I saw him at a social and I'm like oh, what are you doing here, he's like oh I'm pledging so and so and I'm like oh that's cool and I was a year older than him so I was like let me tell you about how this works. (Laughs) So we were 31:00friends for a really long time, kind of dated other people and then started dating again our, well my senior year, his junior year and have been together ever since.

AK: Aw!

AS: it's such a cheesy story, I'm like we met in Chemistry class, and they are like oh chemistry and chemistry and I'm like yeah that hilarious jokes. (Laughs)

AK: Aw, so how many years has it been now?

AS: We've been together, five years.

AK: Five?

AS: Yeah, so we met my senior year his junior year and then I went to grad school so yeah we've been together for five years and moved to St. Louis for him to go to chiropractic school and he's graduating in August so

AK: that's so exciting!

AS: Yes! it's very exciting. he's back up in Wisconsin, well were back up in Wisconsin now.

AK: Are you staying here?

AS: Yup! We are settled in the Madison area and every once in a while we think about going someplace else but our families are all in Wisconsin.


AK: So, back to student life.

AS: Yeah (Laughs), sorry

AK: No its okay, it's okay (Laughs). So you were, pretty much the same kind of student you were in high school, or would you say you differed a little bit.

AS: I think I differed quite a bit. In high school, like I said I had kind of a small group of friends and a boyfriend that went to another school so I didn't really branch out a lot in high school. I was like going to class, going to dance practice, and I am going to home like I didn't really hang out with a lot of people on the weekends and in college it was totally different. I'm like, I'm not afraid to meet new people, I'm more confident, I'm able to talk to strange, not strangers but new people so I felt a little more comfortable in my own skin I guess as far as branching out and talking to other people and I think you know, I had friends in a lot of different organizations, people that were working with a lot of different areas of campus so that was kind of nice being involved and knowing a lot about a lot of different area on campus.


AK: Okay, so where did you spend most of your time on campus?

AS: When we were in the residence halls, we hung out kind of in our commons area a lot, otherwise we hung out in Reeve, kind of third floor ballrooms, right outside in those little study areas. Otherwise the library, first floor always a go to place, until finals week rolled around and then you went up to the third floor and kind of secluded yourself from everyone to study and focus on work, but a lot of time in the library, a lot of time in Reeve. When I was a junior I moved off campus and I lived in my sorority house so hung out with the girls there or in our house with some of my other friends who weren't Greek.

AK: So you told me about your sorority already, what else were you involved in? I know there was a couple clubs that you had listed.

AS: Yeah so I was involved with Hands on Oshkosh, volunteerism that type of work 34:00so, Habitat, like I said Hands on Oshkosh, those types of organizations. I was really involved with Odyssey, so working with admissions, and the Dean of Students office doing the campus tours, and working with students throughout the summer, new freshman coming through and registering for classes, all of that. And then Speaker Series, so the organization that brings different speakers to campus, I got involved with that during grad school a lot. AK: What do you do with all of that, just bring people to campus to speak?

AS: Yeah so, we brought a couple different people. I know one of the ones when I was a sophomore I think, we brought the author of To Write Love on her Arms to campus and they did a speech about suicide awareness and bullying and all of that so it was just your bring kind of high end speakers to campus. When I was in grad school I advised that organization so we went to a national conference 35:00and listened to people speak and brought them back. The students have to present about the person so you know if you want to bring a speaker to campus you have to do a presentation, why do you think they'd be good, what learning outcomes do you think that the students would take away from it. So they do eight speakers a year I think, eight to ten depending on schedules and stuff. I know we brought James Jones from the Green Bay Packers one year, so that was kind of cool. Yeah, there's been some pretty big names on campus which is exciting. I think this past month they had one of the actresses from Orange is the New Black.

AK: Yup, I saw, I didn't see it but I saw signs for it.

AS: Yeah so that's what speaker series does.

AK: Okay! What influenced you to join, even your sorority? Did you just go in knowing you wanted to join, your sorority you knew you wanted to join right?

AS: Yeah and I think the others it was really, you know for the sorority we had required volunteer hours so then you go and you're like okay I am going to do 36:00Hands on Oshkosh because it's one Saturday and it's going to get my hours, and then you go and you're like this is actually really fun so then I just kind of continued to do it. With Odyssey, I don't even know how I, I think one of the girls in my sorority was an Odyssey leader. She's like we are looking for volunteers, as a leader you help with the first three days of orientation and you basically just take students around and tour of campus, making sure their waking up in the morning. I'm sure you remember this.

AK: Yeah, the pots and pans. (Laughs)

AS: Uh-huh yeah! Making sure you're awake (Laughs) and taking you over to speakers and the orientation stuff. So I was like oh I'll volunteer and then the next year or after that was over, they're like oh do you want to do this again, yes, would you like to be a captain which is a paid position during the summer and then again in the fall and I was like well I am living on campus next summer and I was like I am going to get paid, might as well. So that was three weeks at the end of the semester so it's the three weeks during interim where you are 37:00doing tours from 7am to 7pm, you're taking students through registering for classes, they are very, very long days but so much fun.

AK: Yeah, meeting a lot of people?

AS: You meet a lot of people, and you can give advice to incoming students but like registering for classes, well I don't know if you want to take biology, chemistry and physics all on your first semester, maybe do one or two hard sciences and then fill in the blanks here. So, it was kind of opening that advising door for me a little bit more and it's just such a beneficial experience and the staff that works on Odyssey and orientation were just fantastic and being able to give tours of a campus that I loved so much, it's kind of a win-win.

AK: Did those activities impact your studies at all? Did you feel like you were too busy to study or anything?

AS: Not really, so I mean there were some things that were required, making sure 38:00you were at an event that's planned but other things, everyone's always really understanding, oh you have a test tomorrow, go study you don't have to worry about sacrificing that. Some people did, but like if you have a social event or a formal for the sorority on a Saturday night they were like oh I have this huge test on Monday but I don't care I am going to go anyways. it's like, you can make the decision to stay and study and I always did that and I think having friends outside of the group helped with that because there wasn't that peer pressure of come with us come with us, it's like no my biology friends know that we had a test Monday so I am going to go study so I think it was nice.

AK: You balanced it pretty well?

AS: Yeah and everyone was always encouraging like with Greek life you have a standard, you have to maintain a certain GPA or you're kicked out. it's like well if I don't study I'm not going to keep that GPA so I have to go. there's always that balance and I think a lot of that balance is personal choice, some students blame being heavily involved on their low grades or their low grades on 39:00being heavily involved, it's like you can always say no or take a break from your extra curricula's, you're paying to go to school you're not paying to hang out with people.

AK: And you said you're pretty organized

AS: Yeah. (Laughs)

AK: Able to keep it all together. (Laughs)

AS: Yeah it's pretty organized.

AK: Okay so let's talk about dorm life a little bit, so were you in the dorms the first two years?

AS: Yup!

AK: Okay so what dorms were you in?

AS: I actually lived in Clemens my first year, so that was one of the three, Nelson, Breese, Clemens that was torn down to build Horizon where were in now. So, we were there, oh my gosh my freshman year was so crazy and so much fun. It was, I had a random roommate. So there weren't like roommate match finders, it was literally I got a piece of paper in the mail saying okay this is your roommate this is where they are from and it's like okay cool and then I was like I should probably join Facebook because I had my Oshkosh email because when I joined Facebook, you had to have an edu.

AK: Really?

AS: Mmm-hm because when it started it was only for college students so you had 40:00to have a .edu email address, so I'm like oh I have my Oshkosh email I can join Facebook so we joined and it was like Clemens Hall, third floor girls so there was all these people and it was like all these people and it was like oh I think that's my roommate and she didn't have her profile picture and I'm like she's probably really knew to Facebook. So that was kind of where I met some other girls that I knew were living on my floor and then I met my roommate literally the day I moved in and I was like oh hey.

AK: Did you guys get along okay?

AS: We got along okay, she was very quiet. I was pretty involved and not so quiet I guess (Laughs) but her boyfriend was kind of creepy and he visited a lot and I was like, yeah this is just a little weird. So my sophomore year I had my own room. But it was so much fun and I think that's one of the things I miss most, a lot of people, you know younger students, a girl I work with just graduated and she's like do you miss college? And I go are you kidding? Do I 41:00miss living across the hall from four of my best friends, absolutely? Do I miss seeing them every day, sure. I don't necessarily miss the school work (Laughs) but the environment is just so crazy. it's like you throw 300 eighteen year olds in a building and tell them to make sure they are taking care of themselves, and going to class and that's it. it's kind of crazy to me just to think, and I think about my brother and his girlfriend and I'm like, you're so young you shouldn't be living on my own right now and I mean like talking to you, you don't seem like your young or irresponsible but you see your younger brother, you should not be living in a residence hall alone because you're not, you need to be supervised. So it's just kind of weird, that mindset looking back and seeing oh my gosh that was almost ten years ago and I'm like I can't believe I did that and I survived. (Laughs)

AK: So where did you live your, what dorm were you in the second year?

AS: Webster.

AK: Webster?

AS: Yup, so I lived in Webster my sophomore year and it was great because you got to pick your own room.

AK: Yup, yup.


AS: Yup your sophomore year. It was so funny we all had our doors open and I'm like are you guys logged in? Yeah! Is it time yet? We were like hollering back and forth and we had strategically picked our rooms so there was six of us in a little quad, so it was really fun. I definitely miss it. Don't miss taking my key to go to the bathroom or flip flops in the shower of sharing a bathroom with 30 other people who are somewhat disgusting at times but yeah.

AK: So you made a lot of friends there, in your dorm?

AS: Yeah absolutely, so three of my bridesmaids are best friends I've met my freshman year of college.

AK: Wow.

AS: So they lived across the hall from me and they were struggling to put up their loft and it was like oh do you guys need help? So I assisted and friends ever since first day of college and it's crazy. We are all like, we've been friends for almost ten years and we're like no way. Yeah it's crazy how much, you'll find out in a couple of years how fast time flies.

AK: Yeah, it already is, I'm already almost half way done!


AS: I know, it goes so fast which I feel like is so stereotypically to say but it really does, it goes by so fast.

AK: Yeah it really does, okay so you said you've stayed in contact with a lot of them since graduating?

AS: Yup!

AK: that's awesome

AS: Yeah we are kind of all spread out. When I moved to St. Louis, one of them moved to Colorado where were fiancé coaches soccer, the other moved to Minnesota where her fiancé is from and the other went home to Green Bay but we talk every day and we still see each other, we do a girls trip every year to kind of either go visit each other where we live and this year we are going to Florida next week for a girls trip so

AK: that's so exciting.

AS: Yes it's very exciting and it's nice and you know, everyone says oh your best friends are in high school, no you meet your real life time best friends in college because you don't, you're not forced to be together you can choose who you want to be friends with.

AK: that's very true, very true. Okay, so did you feel pretty comfortable when you were here?

AS: Yeah, yeah never had any problems on campus or concerns that way.


AK: So pretty much everyone, like students, professors, advising?

AS: Yeah everything was great and like I said I think I had a lot of different influences to help get me where I am today as far as a job and what I wanted to do. Good strongly influence, I would have had no idea. Nobody comes into college saying I want to be an academic advisor when I finish school, it's just not one of those things a lot of people come in knowing as a goal that they have.

AK: How often did you go home? Or were you up here pretty much every weekend?

AS: I think my first year, my first semester I think, I don't think I went home until Thanksgiving because I had so much going on. And then I did not take an interim class my first semester and I was home for three weeks and I remember texting my friends and I'm like oh my gosh are we going back yet, I hate it and I am so bored here, I miss you guys and like my TimeHop on my app on my phone 45:00brings up memories like eight years ago, only two more days until I'm back in Oshkosh, can't wait to see my friends. it's just funny because you don't think of that but as I got older I think I went home a little bit more often just because I was like there's nothing going on this weekend, I haven't seen my grandparents in a while, I'll just go home but definitely not as much as a commuter school as I thought it was going to be especially with my friends, all of us only being an hour from home, we stayed on campus just because we had things to do and wanted to stay.

AK: Okay, in the free time you had, (Laughs) what did you do?

AS: I think a lot of the time we just kind of hung out in somebody's room.

AK: Relaxing for a bit?

AS: Yeah, relaxing, hanging out, just kind of decompressing from the week and just being able to sit back and say, huh I don't have anything to do and that's okay and just going to Blackhawk to eat or just kind of grabbing food and 46:00ordering in, Toppers, pizza, anything like that, just kind of hanging out.

AK: Okay.

AS: Occasionally, going up to Appleton to go shopping. While I was here I worked at the mall in Appleton, worked at Victoria Secret. So you know, going to spend that hard earned paycheck back where you earned is (Laughs).

AK: Okay, so you already told me that you had your boyfriend when you were here.

AS: Uh-huh.

AK: Were there any major campus issues going on, anything like political, social that you remember? I know it wasn't that long ago so probably nothing to big.

AS: Nothing really too big. I know we had, I think it was my freshman year or sophomore year. It must have been sophomore year. Barack Obama came to campus.

AK: Really!

AS: To speak at Kolf, because that was, that would have been right before his second, no before he was first elected right? Oh my gosh, yeah. So I think he 47:00was on campus my sophomore year, there really weren't any social or political issues going on. I think there were some things on campus as far as passing funding for this building or passing funding to renovate or just kind of you know

AK: Well that's pretty big that they built, they were building this when you were here.

AS: Yeah, so they tore down three residence halls the summer after I moved out of them. So it was like, great what are they doing with this now and tuition went up so it was just kind of things that happened on campus continuously but I don't think there was really anything major while I was here.

AK: Okay! When did you decide you wanted to go to for your masters? What year was that?

AS: I decided I wanted to go for my masters my senior year. So I think two semesters before I graduated I was like, hmm what am I going to do. I had looked at different options out of state for my masters and because I was a December 48:00graduate there was not a lot of options to start in the spring. So I didn't want to take nine months off and wait until the following fall especially with my fiance knowing he was going to chiropractic school and knowing I was going to go with him, I'm like I don't know want to wait to start a program because I want to finish when he was ready to leave and Oshkosh has a great educational leadership program which is what I did my masters in and they also had a great counseling program and they kind of intermixed a little bit. I didn't know exactly which route I wanted to go at that point so I'm like you know what, I have a lease, I am already here, I am just going to roll right in. So I just kind of started right after I graduated. So I graduated and three weeks I started a master's program.

AK: Wow. So wait, you said that, let me back up a little bit. You lived off campus the rest of the year's right? Were you just with, oh you were with your sorority house right?

AS: So yeah, so my sorority house I was there my junior and senior year and then the first year of my master I lived with one of my girlfriends who was finishing 49:00up her nursing degree and then my second year of masters I lived off campus with my fiance.

AK: Okay.

AS: Yeah so, yeah that's five years.

AK: A little all over the place but yeah.

AS: I moved a lot, I still move a lot. We're experts. (Laughs)

AK: that's okay though!

AS: My dad has already said he's not helping anymore so we've just kind of come to understand how we can do it by ourselves. (Laughs)

AK: that's okay! Okay so then why did you specifically choose educational leadership?

AS: I choose that because I knew it was going to give me a foundation for academic advising or working as an advisor or working in admissions, it kind of allowed you to focus elective classes in a lot of different areas. So I took some counseling classes as part of that because I didn't know if I wanted to be in like a guidance counselor or an admissions counselor. I've always wanted to help people and I feel like it's easier for me to talk to someone, but the class 50:00work was just great, looking at child development, all the way from infancy through adolescence to early college age because something that is a big deal to a sixteen year old may not be a big deal to a 36 year old just because the life, where they are at in their life. So understanding those things, it gave me a lot of great background information to help me ultimately go into where I want to be.

AK: Yeah so then specifically what was your career plan? When you decided you wanted to go for your masters, what did you want to do?

AS: I wanted to get into academic advising with me changing my major a couple times that was something where I feel

AK: It influenced you a lot.

AS: Yeah it definitely influenced and I feel like that's an area that is always short on people. You have an academic advisor who is supposed to be advising 1200 students, it's like one person advising 1200 students sure, you will for 51:00sure see them their freshman year, freshmen semester coming in and registering for classes because they need your approval to register. You'll see them second semester their freshmen year because they have to set up an appointment to come. You might not see them every again.

AK: Yeah, not very personal.

AS: it's not very personal and there's, you can't have 500 academic advisors depending on the size of the campus it's just not feasible but if you are able to make that relationship with at least half of your students you're doing a good job and going back and saying thank you for everything you've done, you've helped influence me, this is why I am going into this field, it's nice to able to say that and be able to narrow down what you want to do.

AK: Okay, so was going for your master degree what you expected it to be? Were you like really thinking it was going to be really hard?

AS: I think it was different, I was like oh yeah I am going to go ahead and do this and it was a lot harder than I thought because the focus on the classwork 52:00is so specific to what you want to be using it so you have to think a little bit more critically. You know, how will you apply this with a student, like well I have no idea, I'm a student so just kind of thinking outside the box. A lot of people in my program were also returning adult students so they had been out working or they were current employees on the UW campus it's like oh like you're in my grad program? You were my advisor? Like what are doing here? it's just crazy to think because a lot of people don't go on to master's program right away. But for me I knew it would help open doors for me because going into higher ed. Just a little FYI for you, you need two to three years professional experience or a master's degree well in order to get that two to three year experience, you got to get a job to get that experience so coupling some undergraduate experience and experience as a graduate advisor with a master's degree kind of helped open a couple more doors that maybe wouldn't have been if 53:00I didn't have the degree so I knew I was going to have to do it. But it was hard, definitely had to study more and more intense papers and projects, not as many tests but a lot more application of the material you're learning, can't just memorize and go in and take a test and forget it. You actually have to remember and apply it.

AK: Okay, so moving on since after graduation, what things have you done since college, what opportunities were there?

AS: Yeah so, like I said we moved to St. Louis for my fiancé to go to chiropractic school, when we moved I was in my last semester of grad school and I didn't have my degree yet, I was pending graduation and passing my research project so I had one class that I had been working on online so that was definitely different because I had never done an online class before so not only online but at a distant so I would have phone meetings with my advisor just kind of going through program information. So I worked two part time jobs while I was 54:00job searching. So I was moving to a new place, my fiancé was in school constantly so I never saw him, I was working two jobs, I was finishing a masters and I was job searching.

AK: that's a lot.

AS: It was really, really stressful. So couple months after moving to St. Louis I had applied for a couple different positions, did a few phone interviews for academic advising offices, admissions representatives, and I got an interview actually as an admissions advisor at my fiancé's chiropractic school.

AK: Really?

AS: Just kind of out of the blue, one of his classmates worked in the admissions office and was like oh hey, you fiancé should apply for this position. I was like sure why not so I applied and I got an on campus interview and I'm like oh my gosh, this is real life, this is real. So I got hired and I worked there for two and a half years in admissions so it was very different admissions world, 55:00not undergraduate admissions so I wasn't working with high school students, I was working with college students looking to go on for a doctorate degree so very mature for the most part. Definitely using some of the counseling skills from my masters and doing tours on campus so it was kind of a good combination of what I had done in undergrad and it was a great experience and opportunity and then I moved back here last semester because I had decided a lot of higher ed. jobs hire in July and August I am just going to interview because I know we are moving home in April, I am just going to see what happens because I don't want to move back and not have a job again. So I was hired with UW-Extension out of Madison so I work with entirely online adult population.

AK: Really!

AS: So, I don't have a campus, I work completely online with students so all 56:00phone calls, emails, never in person tours because the programs that we offer are 100% online. So if a student goes and gets an associate's degree in nursing and has a nursing license, they can come through one of our programs and complete their bachelor's degree. So it's all online so it's really a different.

AK: Yeah very different.

AS: Very different population so I am working with all online students, the majority are older adults returning to school.

AK: Okay, do you feel that college prepared you for your job now?

AS: Yeah absolutely, sometimes I feel like I am underutilizing my master's degree. I kind of look at my position and am like I'm really not working with undergrad students the way I want to be working with them but I still have those conversation skills and that confidence and ability to talk to other people so definitely helped prepare me.

AK: Okay, do you feel satisfied with you experience here?

AS: Yeah absolutely, I would do it over again in a heartbeat. My brothers doing two year tech college degree which he's living at home with my parents


AK: Very different.

AS: Yeah so he's not getting this experience and I'm like you know what he's kind of smart, he got a scholarship, he's not really paying for school and I'm like I'm paying back loans but at the same time I wouldn't trade my experience for anything it was totally worth it. Not only the education I got but I mean the experiences, I met my future husband, I met my best friends, I met so many people who influenced my life but definitely would do it again in a heartbeat!

AK: that's good, that's good to hear! (Laughs) Makes me happy!

AS: (Laughs) Yeah you hear people their like oh I would never go back to college, I would never go back to that school and im like oh my gosh I love my school, were actually getting married in Oshkosh and were taking pictures on campus because this is where we met and all of my friends are like we can't wait to go back to UWO, their life do you think they're going to be serving buffalo chicken sandwiches, like can we go and get a buffalo chicken sandwich and I'm like oh my gosh you guys. (Laughs)

AK: that's so, I love that!

AS: Yeah, it's crazy

AK: When's the wedding?

AS: June, so a month and a half. (Laughs)

AK: that's so exciting though!!

AS: Yeah so it's really coming fast, like I said we had such a great experience 58:00here. My fiancés parents actually went to school here, his twin brother went to school here so we are really proud of our school and I love coming back, it's great.

AK: So, have you been involved here much since you've graduated?

AS: Not as much as I would like to, just because of location and distance it's really hard to be involved when you are six and a half hours away. I still get the newsletter and I follow Oshkosh on Facebook and everything to stay connected. I am actually volunteering with commencement in May. One of my old supervisors, Debbie, who works in the Pollock House, she was former Dean of Students, she posted on her Facebook, any previous staff or students and alumni of Oshkosh, we need help at commencement and I was like, I'll come to Oshkosh for the day and help with commencement so I think now that we are back it will 59:00be easier for us to be involved.

AK: Okay, what are you impressions of UWO now? I know it hasn't been that long.

AS: Yeah (Laughs). Always innovative and changing.

AK: Yeah because this is all new for you!

AS: Yes this building is brand new, also when I was here Sage was built.

AK: Yeah okay Sage is newer!

AS: Yeah, so new business building and they were doing to the renovations at Clow.

AK: Yes they just finished those.

AS: Yes they just finished them and I saw a Facebook video and I'm like oh my gosh that's so impressive and really, really cool because it is all things that had been discussed as possibilities down the road and I'm like wow these are actually really happening and things are changing.

AK: Yes, they are redoing Fletcher.

AS: Yeah I just saw that too, that they are redoing Fletcher.

AK: Yes I am excited to see what that looks like because I lived in there for a little bit.

AS: Yeah it's really cool because sometimes you see this and you go to a school and your like oh yeah we want to make all these changes and this is what we are going to be doing and we want to do this and then nothing ever happens and I feel like despite budget cuts across the state and the state of our fiscal 60:00system with the UW system, it's great to see school still being able to move forward and provide experiences for students and the Alumni Welcome Center is fantastic, we looked at that as a reception. (Laughs)

AK: Yeah, I was going to do this in there but they are closed on the weekends!

AS: Oh yeah! So we looked at that as a possibility for our reception for our wedding and we just really love the area and I love what the campus is grown too and continues to grow, it's exciting to see expansion and everything going in a good direction, even though it's only been a couple of years. (Laughs)

AK: But still it's changing all the time, it's changing since I've got here, Clow wasn't done when I first got here, now they are redoing Fletcher, Sage is new.

AS: Yeah and it's awesome. AK: Alright to wrap it up, what advice would you give current students here now?

AS: Don't be afraid to get involved with something you're not sure you are going 61:00to like. Kind of take a leap of faith and just go to a meeting or join a club, just because you go to one club meeting doesn't mean you're there and you have to go every time. If you think, disc golf is cool, go to a disc club event, you can go and you can hate it and you can never go again because you don't want look back on your experience and say, I am mad that I didn't try that because I might have liked it. So don't be afraid to try something new and get involved, you'll meet so many different people and have so many different experiences because college only lasts for so long and you're never going to be able to go back, well you could but you're never going to be able to do it the first time again. So take advantage of everything you have to offer and eat all the birthday cake ice cream. (Laughs)

AK: (Laughs) Okay I'll keep that in mind! Alright, well thank you very much!

AS: you're welcome!

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