Interview with Chantel Mitchell, 04/13/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Kyra Hagerman, Interviewer | uwocs_Chantel_Mitchell_04132018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

KH: This is Kyra Hagemann, and I will be interviewing Chantel Mitchell for the campus stories oral history project. Chantel, can you please state today's date, the time of the interview, and the degree you completed at UW Oshkosh, and what years you attended the university?

CM: Sure, it is Friday, April 13 at 1:00 PM, and I attended UW Oshkosh from 1993 to 1997 and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in the Human Service program with a minor in criminal justice.

KH: Okay, awesome. So, first we're going to start off with talking about where you grew up. So, where did you grow up?

CM: I grew up in River Falls, Wisconsin.

KH: Okay, tell me about the community you grew up in. What type of work did people do in your neighborhood?

CM: Oh, okay. Well, River Falls is a small college town. There's a UW system school here and it's about 30 minutes from St. Paul Minnesota, so it actually is 1:00somewhat of a suburb of the twin cities, but when I was a kid it was very small town feeling growing up. A lot of people who live in this community either work at the university or commute to the Twin Cities for work. Anderson Windows is actually a large employer, or was a large employer, when I was a kid, and they make windows, so it's kind of a blue collar job that a lot of people worked at. So, my mom worked at a bank and my dad worked at 3M in Minnesota.

KH: Okay, did your parents go to college?

CM: Neither of my parents went to college. I'm actually the first person on both sides of my family to attend a four-year university.

KH: Okay, that's cool. Did the people you grew up around typically go to college?

CM: Yeah, all of my friends went to college. You know, all of my friends from 2:00high school attended college, most of us stayed fairly close; we're either enrolled in the UW system or went over to Minnesota to the University of Minnesota or Mankato state, Winona State, but typically yes, they stayed. There's a few people that went further away, but we really stayed within a few hours of home. But like I said, all of my group of friends, all of us went to college.

KH: Okay.

CM: I don't know that that was typical for, you know, I think historically not a lot of people went to college, or if they did they went to the university right in town. But I think my generation was probably that first generation in River Falls, in the city where I grew up, where people really - it was kind of expected that you would go on to school after you graduated high school, even 3:00more so now.

KH: Okay, did your family emphasize education?

CM: Did my family emphasize education?

KH: Yes.

CM: To a degree, I guess. Because my parents didn't go to college they never - I mean, they thought it was important that we do well in school, but there was no push from my parents to go to college. That was something that I chose to do, and, if anything, when I applied for universities, they really encouraged me to stay in town which is why I started at River Falls before I transferred, because they didn't really understand the necessity of me going to college.

KH: Okay, what were some values or lessons that you learned growing up in your community?

CM: To be honest and kind. Because I am from a small town, it's a pretty tight 4:00knit community but yet pretty welcoming because we do have a university, and we are so close to the Twin Cities, and I think I grew up knowing the value of community service, volunteer work, helping your neighbors out, and some of that is due to my family. My family is the kind of people that would give the shirt off their back, kind of thing, and they always modeled that behavior for me as a child, and even my grandparents were involved in doing things to help the community and help other people and helping their neighbors. And I would say that's fairly common in the community, and it certainly was when I was growing up, so. River Falls was also, and still is, a very safe community, so as a kid we had lots of freedom because people were kind of - everyone looked out for 5:00each other.

KH: What were some of your family routines, like what was it like growing up in your house?

CM: Well, I have a younger brother who is 8 years younger than I am, and I have a lot of extended family. Both of my parents - my family is very entrenched in my home town of River Falls. So, both of my mom and dad's sides of the family, it was my great grandparents on both sides that came over from Norway and settled in this area, and no one ever left. When I went off to college and moved to Oshkosh I was the first person, since they came over on the boat from Norway, to leave this area.

KH: Wow.

CM: So, I have lots of aunts and uncles and cousins, and I grew up with a lot of extended family around me. So, I would say I had a very stereotypical American childhood. My mom stayed home when I was a kid, my dad worked, we went to church, I was involved in school activities, and involved in things in my 6:00community, and we did a lot of family get-togethers and things like that. We had a family cabin up north, so our summers were spent, which again is kind of very stereotypical of the Midwest, is going up north to a cabin and boating and swimming and fishing and that sort of thing, so am I getting off topic on the question?

KH: That's okay, it's good. I like the stories.

CM: Oh, the routines in our house?

KH: Yeah.

CM: Okay, so routines, I mean I don't know I guess, like I said, my mom was home, my dad worked, my summers were very care-free. I didn't have a lot of responsibilities because my parents felt like as long as I was doing well in school, I didn't have to do a whole lot else. I guess I was fairly spoiled as a kid. I really wanted a younger sibling, so my brother, I wished for him on a four leaf clover, and mom my found out she was pregnant a few months later so we always joke that I was the reason that he existed. And yeah, I guess I don't 7:00know if that really, do you want like a day to day routine?

KH: No, that's good.

CM: Alright.

KH: What was your neighborhood like? Was it diverse and were other neighborhoods around you, like did they like to mingle with each other?

CM: River Falls is not diverse at all; it is a little more so now, but when I was a kid it was not. So, I grew up with kids that looked like me, and that had very similar living situations as I did, and I grew up in a very family friendly, safe neighborhood where, you know, I got up as a kid and went outside and played outside all day until it was dark, and then when I came in I came in to eat and all the neighbor kids floated around to everyone else's house, and I think we probably just ate lunch at whoever's house we happened to be at that 8:00time of day. Their parents would feed us because most of the moms stayed home at the time, so I grew up doing a lot of neighborhood kickball games, or we'd play capture the flag, and there's a very prominent river that goes through river falls called the Kinnickinnic, and it's a Class A trout stream and you can kayak down it; it's kind of a tourist attraction now. But as a kid, we were in the river a lot, we would swim in the river, we would fish in the river, we would just explore down by the river, we would take giant tractor tubes, and we would tube down the river, and that would be - some days we would go tubing for up to 12 hours, and go all the way out to the St. Croix river, which is the large river that separates Wisconsin and Minnesota, and that was just kind of what we did. So, I grew up with carefree summers, you know school, and activities after school during the winter and like I said, a pretty stereotypical all American childhood.

KH: Sounds like fun.

CM: I had a very good childhood.

9:00

KH: Did your neighborhood change while you were growing up?

CM: The house that I grew up in as a younger child was the house my mother grew up in, and we built a brand new house when I was 14, so we moved to a newer - which was actually just down the street, they basically had expanded a subdivision into the cornfield, and so those houses were a little nicer ,but the neighborhood now - if I drive over to - my parents live in the house that I grew up in as a teenager, they still live there. And even in the house I grew up in as a younger child, I would say the neighborhood is almost the same as it was when I was a kid. Some of the same people still live there, I take my children now every year on Halloween, and we trick or treat in the neighborhood I grew up in, and we see a lot of familiar faces, and the first couple years when we moved back to this area and trick or treated in that neighborhood, people would say 10:00"Oh, hi Chantel! How are you? How's your mom and dad?" and my oldest son who was maybe 4 or 5 at the time, if we went to house and someone didn't say my name or acknowledge me he would say "Do you know my mom? Do you know my grandma and grandpa?" because everyone just knew, you know, knows who everyone is and they all knew who I was.

KH: So, tell me about some of the schools you attended for elementary school and high school and middle school.

CM: In River Falls, when I was a kid there were 3 elementary schools, basically it was whether you lived on the east or west side of town, and I lived on the west side so I attended West Side Elementary school. And there was a parochial school in town, a Catholic parochial school, and I mean, very small class sizes. So, I went to elementary school at the same elementary school from kindergarten until sixth grade, and then I went to what we call junior high for seventh and 11:00eighth grade and both elementary schools merged, and then I went to the one high school that was in town, so I spent my entire educational career in public schools in the same school district. So, I went to school with the same people. Some of my closest friends today are my friends that I went to kindergarten with and that I graduated high school with. I had really lovely teachers, I think overall I had a really positive educational experience as a kid, but again I was pretty outgoing, and I was involved in things especially, there wasn't as much to get involved in when I was a kid in elementary or middle school especially, when I got to high school there were more things. I ran track, I cheered for football and basketball, I was in dance line, I was in choir, I did theatre, I was involved in student government, the student council, so I was able to get involved in some things at the high school level. But we didn't have much when I 12:00was in middle school.

KH: What were your goals and aspirations as a young person?

CM: I wanted to be a marine biologist, or train dolphins, that was my dream and my goal. I am not a dolphin trainer now, yeah, and I don't know, I always loved animals so I think at one point I probably wanted to be a veterinarian, and that evolved, I think, after I went to Sea World as a kid, decided maybe being a dolphin trainer or a marine biologist would be a stellar idea, but it was really just that, you know veterinarian, marine biologist. I never wanted to be anything but those things.

KH: Okay, what were your parent's goals for you?

CM: My parents just wanted me to be happy and healthy and, yeah I think their goals were pretty basic for me. I don't think they had any expectations other 13:00than that I, you know, was fairly well behaved and was a good, kind person and was honest and you know, that I just - they never put pressure on me to do anything that I didn't want to do, and I was kind of a kid that just naturally did well, like they didn't have to tell me to do my homework or anything like that, I just always did those things, so I was a fairly easy child to raise except for my preteen years I think I was a little challenging.

KH: Everyone is. So, when did you begin to think about going to college?

CM: I think I always just assumed I would go to college. I had a couple of really good friends whose parents, who I think now as an adult I probably thought they were probably role models for me. One family, he was an attorney and she was a teacher, and then the other family the mom was also a teacher and 14:00the dad just had a really successful business type job in the Twin Cities, and they had very nice homes, and they traveled a lot, and they used to take me with on a lot of their trips, one family in particular. My family didn't travel very often, so I went on a lot of vacations with my friend's family, and I think pretty quickly I knew that, you know, if you kind of wanted to travel or maybe have some nice things in life it might be a good idea to go to college, and I'm talking from like a middle school age range, those thoughts were in my head. And then when I got to high school, you know, they talked about college and school but not a lot, we didn't have a lot of push for what you were going to do after high school when I was in high school. Again, we knew there was a tech school nearby, and there was a four-year university in our town, so we knew that that was an option, but there wasn't a big push to go to college, but I just knew 15:00that I needed to figure out that I would do something after high school, and I wanted to do something more than just get a job after I went to high school, and all of my friends, we all had plans to go to college, so it just seemed like the thing to do, I guess. I never considered not going to college.

KH: What other schools, other than UW River Falls, did you consider going to?

CM: When I was in high school, I applied to the University of Hawaii because they have a marine biology program. And I applied to River Falls because my parents wanted me to, and then I applied to UW-Madison, and I got into all three. And I remember getting my letter from Madison, because at the time not everyone got into Madison, you know, your ACT score had to be pretty high, your grades had to be good, and I got my acceptance letter and my parents, you know, I was all excited, and they were like "Oh, well why would you want to go to Madison when we have a perfectly good university right here in town?" So, kind 16:00of burst my bubble. And then I didn't go to Hawaii because I had a boyfriend at the time and we were going to get married after we went to college and so the thought of me going to Hawaii, basically I stayed in River Falls for my parents and for a boy, I guess.

KH: Okay.

CM: He's not my husband now.

KH: Aw. Did your friends go to the same college as you?

CM: I had one, two friends like from my group of high school friends that stayed in River Falls and went to River falls. I had one that went to Madison, one that went to Oshkosh, one that went to the university of Minnesota, one that went to Mankato state, so we were you know like I said in Minnesota, Wisconsin no one ventured off too far, but a couple were at River Falls with me.

 

KH: So, now I'm going to ask you questions about UW Oshkosh. So, why did you 17:00decide to go to UWO, and what was most important to you making that decision? 

CM: Well, being at River Falls, I still had this desire to kind of get a little further away from home and really be on my own, and Oshkosh was originally started as just the idea that I would transfer there for a semester. I had a friend, one of my good friends, was in the nursing program at Oshkosh so I had been there before and knew about it and then, again, a boy, so my boyfriend in college graduated, he was older than me and he was doing his student teaching, was going to be doing his student teaching in that part of the state, and so I thought "Well, I'm gonna transfer to Oshkosh for a semester and just see how I like it there," and so that's how I ended up at Oshkosh, and I ended up staying there, I loved it and I stayed, obviously I graduated from there.

KH: What were your first impressions of UWO?

CM: It was bigger than River Falls, and that was a positive for me, I liked 18:00that. And the campus actually, even though it's a larger university than where I had come from, the campus doesn't seem as spread out, it still felt fairly - things were nearby. So I had a very positive - I came - when I started there, I started at second semester so, you know, people's routines were already established, and I was coming in as a transfer student so - but I felt like I quickly adapted and met people, so yeah it was a positive experience for me to transfer to Oshkosh.

KH: What do you remember about your first few weeks at school?

CM: Let's see, well, I remember being nervous about parking because I was not living on campus, and that was probably my biggest concern was finding a place to park and then how far I was going to have to walk to get to my first class 19:00and finding everything because I hadn't - I moved just a few days before classes started, so I didn't have a chance to like go and walk around and know which buildings are where when I started, so the first few weeks were really just getting acclimated to my schedule and where I was going and where things were. And then when I transferred I was also considering whether I wanted to change my major or not so I started to, or at least that first semester, was just really starting to explore what other majors Oshkosh had to offer. I came in as a criminal justice student, a criminal justice major.

KH: Oh, okay. So when did you decide to change your major to human services?

CM: That next year. So, that first semester that I was there I was a criminal justice student, and then I kept thinking - by that time my dreams of being a marine biologist had subsided and reality was setting in that I needed to find a job I could work in the Midwest. So, I had always loved the Silence of the 20:00Lambs, I thought that Jodie Foster that would be cool to be, or the FBI, or something like that. So, I was looking into criminal justice, and that's what I was majoring in at River Falls when I transferred, and then I started to think about the options in criminal justice, and I considered going to law school and then, the other, but I knew I didn't want to work in corrections, and I didn't want to be a police officer because I had met with an FBI agent and a CIA agent to find out more about those and if I wanted to work for the federal government, but it didn't seem like the best fit for me. And so I heard about the human service program because someone in my class had that major, and it just seemed nice and broad and maybe instead of working with criminals, maybe I can work with people who have been affected by those criminals. So, that was kind of the impetus for me to look into the human service field. I did a lot of volunteer 21:00work leading up to this, and so I knew that human services or social work or something like that might be a good fit for me.

KH: Were there a lot of other human service majors?

CM: It was a fairly small program when I started there, and I knew we went through accreditation while I was a student there because I was a part of that process. And human services and the degree nation-wide was fairly new at the time because we went to a Midwest regional conference or something down in Illinois, I remember, and again it was kind of a new feel because typically people had gone to school to be a social worker and at the time when I was in the human service program, you could still get your social worker's license, and it was grandfathered in the human service program, but a social work degree kind of pigeon holds you a little bit, case management and things like that, whereas 22:00human services just seems broader, you know, if you wanted to run a non-profit organization, or if you wanted to work with youth in your community, or all the agencies and organizations that I was drawn to, fit within, you know you want to work with people and you want to make the world a better place and that just seemed like a natural fit for me. And yeah, that program not a ton of students at that time.

KH: Okay, would you say that human services was a difficult major?

CM: I wouldn't say so, not for me because I think it was a good fit. I'm not a math person, so if I would have switched to be a physics major, that would have seemed really challenging for me, but I think anytime you kind of know what your interests are then it's not as hard because you like what you're doing ,and I enjoyed - all the classes I took felt applicable to something I might be doing after I graduated, and a lot of them were about people and understanding people, 23:00human ecology, so they were all things I was very interested in. So, I don't remember a class being particularly - there were classes that were harder than others, but I liked all of them so.

KH: So, as you progressed through college, what was your planned career path with this major?

CM: Well, the nice thing in the human service program is you had to do three experiences or internships. So the first one was there was a small, medium, and large field placement, and the first one I did was with United Cerebral Palsy in Oshkosh, and so I was able to work with mentally disabled folks or people with disabilities. The second one I did was volunteer with probation, so it's kind of tying in with my criminal justice background, and then the third was my favorite, and I'll probably spend a little time talking about that. I went down 24:00to Florida and worked for Save the Manatees. So, those experiences kind of helped channel what my interests were, so I didn't know when I graduated specifically what I wanted to do, but I knew I was still interested in - I still enjoyed my criminal justice background, and I knew I wanted to work in a helping field, but I knew I would be looking for jobs within non-profits, but other than that I felt like it was pretty open which I liked. I felt like I had options.

KH: Which professors do you remember from UWO?

CM: Oh, Karen [Minch?] was my favorite. She is no longer there, she was lovely and wonderful and very inspiring. I've actually tried to look her up since then just so I can tell her how much I appreciated her, although I think she knew it because I did tell her at the time. And then Alfred Kisubi was also - everyone 25:00in that human service program was really great. He was pretty helpful I guess, to me. Janet Hagen was the - I think she was the chair of the department at the time, she was just very structured and gave lots of good feedback as to direction and, you know, opportunity and things like that. And then Anne [Frisch?] was also in that department, and she was the more like free spirited, very open minded, but her classes were actually very applicable for me now. I remember taking a class on creative writing, and she taught that class, and I used what I learned in that class all the time now as a working person.

KH: So, would you say that your professors were very influential in your course of study?

CM: Yes, absolutely.

KH: Okay.

CM: Yeah and I did have Dr. Jones who, I think he retired not that long ago, he 26:00was the head of the criminal justice program at the time, and he was really awesome and helpful to me as well.

KH: And you said that you lived off campus?

CM: I did.

KH: All four years?

CM: Yeah.

KH: Okay, so when you were on campus did you spend time anywhere other than classrooms and stuff like that?

CM: Yeah, because I was on campus the whole day, but I actually commuted from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, so I would come up in the morning, and I was there all day because chances are I had cheerleading practice that night, or a meeting for something, so I spent a lot of time on campus. And I would - in between my classes, really, just, you know, I was eating there, I was studying there, I was at the library, I was in the computer lab, I'm blanking on what we called the like our student center, what's the name?

KH: Is it Reeve?

CM: Yeah, I was there a lot in between classes, and I had meetings there and 27:00things like that so yeah, I was on campus a lot during that time.

KH: Okay, did you go home a lot?

CM: Home, home? Where I was from?

KH: Yeah, to River Falls.

CM: Yeah, I would say so. I probably went home about every other month for a weekend. And then holidays.

KH: So, even though you didn't live in the dorms, do you remember what they were like?

CM: I do, yeah, I had friends who lived in the dorms, but again I wasn't there as a freshman, so I came in later so the people that I met on campus - that was the time where they were starting, the next year people were moving into apartments and things like that, so you know, I went to the dorms to connect with friends, and certainly hung out in the dorms for a little bit, but I didn't really participate in any activities in the dorms or anything like that.

KH: Okay, what was it like being a commuter student?

28:00

CM: I guess there's not a lot of great things about being a commuter. You have to get up early and drive there every day, but I did have a classmate in my criminal justice program, his name was Kirk Everson, and he's now an attorney, I think in the Fond du Lac area, and we just randomly ran into each other on campus. I think we parked by one another, and we were two polar opposites, and we - for some reason we both lived in Fond du Lac, and so we decided to carpool together, and for two years he and I drove together back and forth to campus on a regular basis. I would drive, he would drive, and I got to know him really well, and definitely gave me a different perspective. And I probably did the same for him. We were definitely like an odd pair of friends, people would think "How did you two end up hanging out together?" but we actually became very good 29:00friends, and that was kind of fun and interesting, so that made my commuting a little better I guess.

KH: That's good. What are some memories you have of your college friends?

CM: Well, like I said, I went to high school with a friend of mine, Renee, who graduated from Oshkosh in the nursing program, so her and I have lots of memories. We used to go out for Mexican in Neenah [unclear], and we always liked to do that, and she lived in a house so we and they had parties a lot, so we had lots of memories there, and then her and I liked to take trips together. She's a big skier, so we went out west and would go skiing every winter, and then in the summer we always did a boundary waters trip up to in the boundary waters where we would canoe and camp and do kind of those outdoorsy things. And then two of my friends that were in the human service program are two of my very good friends now, one still lives in Oshkosh and the other lives in Philadelphia, and 30:00oh my gosh, I don't feel like we can talk about this stuff.

KH: That's okay.

CM: So, we used to go out a lot in Oshkosh and, you know, to parties and things, and then as we got older we were at the bars, and we were going dancing, and we spent a lot of time together during school and then, like I said, were still good friends today and yeah. So.

KH: Okay, so you have stayed in touch with them?

CM: Yes, yes.

KH: Okay, that's good.

CM: Yeah, like they were in my wedding, and I was in their wedding, all that.

KH: That's nice. Tell me some of the things that you remember about campus. Was it diverse?

CM: Well, coming from River Falls, Oshkosh was more diverse, but I still wouldn't say that Oshkosh was overly diverse at the time when I was there. Even in like my human service program, we only had one student that was a student of 31:00color at the time. And I also keep in touch with him, actually, he works down in Milwaukee at one of the universities. So, I would say not overly diverse, but more diverse than River Falls. I also spent a lot of time with my people that I cheered with, and my stunt partner at Oshkosh became a life-long friend, and like I said, he and I are still friends today. He came to my wedding, and put me up in cheerleading stunts in my wedding dress even.

KH: Wow.

CM: It was impressive in a dress, and we were older and not as in good of shape as we were in college.

KH: That's funny. Would you say that you were comfortable at UWO?

CM: Yes, yeah. I kind of flourished when I got there. I mean, I did fine at River Falls, but I think for me being able to be on my own, and I helped people that -- now, like when students are considering, you know, where people in high school are thinking about where to go to school, I think there's value in going 32:00away and having that experience of separating from your family and meeting people and kind of being on your own. I think there's a lot of growth that can happen there, so for me going to Oshkosh was a very positive thing. For me, emotionally, socially, and probably academically, too, because I think when I first went there and I didn't know a lot of people I really focused on my classes, and I had kind of a strong base and moving ahead, yeah, I don't know that I would've been as successful academically had I stayed at River Falls.

KH: Okay, so tell me a little bit about the extra-curricular activities that you participated in like cheerleading and the Alpha Delta Omega and the HSO [Human Service Organization].

CM: Yeah, well, I cheered at River Falls, so when I got to Oshkosh I looked right away into cheerleading, and I tried out right away that second semester 33:00and cheered for basketball that year. We also had a competition squad, and so I got really involved with the cheer and stunt team. And that was fun I mean, it was a great way to meet people, and it was a great way to stay fit and healthy, so it was a good group of people who got me a little bit connected because I had done that at River Falls too, cheerleading as an organization. We had to attend student government meetings as a student organization, so you got to tap into those, and I had gotten more involved with student government that way. And then really the Human Service Organization was as successful as we wanted it to be, and we had just a really good group of people that we were working with at the time, so, and we were really human service majors, so, you know, we had meetings, and we had a banquet, and we had guest speakers, and we were doing things in the community like volunteer work, and things like that so it was kind of a good resume builder, too, but it was fun, I mean, a lot of fun. And then 34:00the Alpha Delta Omega was just like an honor society for our majors, so you got invited to be in that and they actually had like a candle lighting ceremony I think we got like a yellow flower or something, it was like a formal, I have pictures of it, like a formal ceremony. And again, there were meetings and things for that so. But I got involved in anything that was happening on campus, you know, there was like an event or a concert, or I went to the theatre or anything like that I went to a lot of those things.

KH: Okay.

CM: And I took advantage of a lot of the things the campus offered.

KH: So, did you attend like football games and stuff like that?

CM: I did yup. Football and basketball, mostly football and basketball I guess.

KH: Do you remember any important social issues/political issues on campus while you were there?

CM: Well, when I was there, I mean, Oshkosh was still known for being one of the 35:00larger party schools nationwide and having had the, oh gosh, what did they call, there was a really, we got really bad press nationally because there was like a big riot people flipped cars and started fires, have you heard about all this?

KH: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. I saw a newspaper article from May 1st of 1995 about a Sigma Pi party that got busted.

CM: Yeah. So, I was there when all that was going on. I was not participating in any of that, but I knew about it, I knew people that were in there, so, and that was really I mean you could, it was something that was talked about even in our classes. Like, I think it was embarrassing for the campus, but yeah, I think students felt this like "Yeah, we're the big party school! UW-Zero!" It put us 36:00on the map, you know, we were on CNN, and they saw it as like a positive thing, but I know the - I'm sure campus administrators were cringing, you know, when all this was happening, but yeah. So, I was there during all that.

KH: Okay, what did you like to do for fun?

CM: What did I like to do for fun-- Specifically, while I was a student there?

KH: Yeah.

CM: Let's see, well cheerleading was fun for me so I really enjoyed that. I liked dancing, so we went out a lot to Molly McGuire's was the place to go dancing. And like on the weekends I mostly might go to a party, but then I would end up going dancing, I love to dance. But I also liked going to movies, listening to live music if there was live music anywhere. I like to go shopping, 37:00I liked to explore the little neighboring towns, but I would even go my friends, like we would hop in the car, and we would drive up to Door County for the day because you could do that, you know, we were only a couple hours away. Or we would drive down to Milwaukee, or to Madison, and kind of check things out and explore and try different foods and just check out what was going on in that town. And I also really, fun for me was doing volunteer work. I did a lot of volunteer work, especially when I was in that area and was a student, and so and I worked like three jobs, so I was pretty busy, but mostly I just enjoyed spending time with friends and, you know, kind of going out and doing fun stuff like that. I didn't have a specific hobby, I mean, I did have hobbies, I scuba dived, and I was diving at the time, so I would go on vacation in the winter. I usually - twice a year, I would try to go scuba diving, and then I do downhill ski, and there's not a lot of downhill skiing right there, but I would do a 38:00winter trip out west and go skiing with friends and usually friends from college.

KH: What were the three jobs that you worked?

CM: I worked at a bridal shop as a ? that helps brides pick out their dresses. It was a little shop called Victoria's Bridal in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and then I was a receptionist at a hair salon in Fond du Lac, and then I worked part time at the jewelry store. So, had I been getting married then I could've got a discount on a dress, my ring, and then got my hair and make-up done.

KH: Right! And you said you used to go to Molly McGuire's?

CM: Yeah.

KH: So, what do you remember about bar culture?

CM: Oh, I have good memories about bar culture. Fun, you know, I was a pretty fairly safe, you know, I wasn't - I would have a few drinks and stuff, but I really was just interested in dancing mostly. So, just yeah, I mean, I 39:00definitely went to the bars and enjoyed, like ,socializing and talking to people and seeing people that, you know, I would see around campus, and getting to know them better in that environment and stuff, and, like I said, mostly the dancing. And there were other places the Calhoun Beach Club was a spot further up the street so I can't even think, the downtown street in Oshkosh there, and then gosh what was the other, Oblio's? I think was the other bar, and I think that's still there today, too. I used to go there. That was the more start there, a little more relaxed environment, but yeah, we always ended up somewhere where we could go dancing so.

KH: Did you go to any homecoming dances?

CM: No, I don't even remember there being any homecoming dances like, on campus. I remember going to homecoming, you know, for football and things like that and 40:00doing that part of it, but I don't remember going to a dance on campus other than I feel like they had a DJ a few times, like in Reeve Union, that I would've gone to, but I don't remember like a specific dance.

KH: Okay, would you say there were more men or women at UWO when you attended the university?

CM: Oh, that's a good question. Well, I knew Platteville at the time was heavy on the men and less women. I felt like it was pretty - I would say we had to be fairly equal on terms of men and women, I don't remember there being more than one sex or the other.

KH: What was it like being a woman at UWO?

CM: Well, I think being a woman is fantastic wherever you are, so I felt like at the time when I was there I think it was a good time to be a female on campus, I 41:00think people were starting to be more open minded, and, you know, less rigid about gender roles, so I never felt anything bad about being female on campus by any means. I think I felt fairly empowered as a female on our campus, and, yeah, that's what I have to say about that.

KH: Do you remember there being any political issues about genders or anything on campus when you were there?

CM: No, but that was a time where you started to hear more about students who might be coming out of the closet at that time. And you started to see, like, some rainbow flags different places. That was just kind of happening when I was a student there. And as a student, I guess, I was pretty open minded already, so 42:00I didn't feel anything negative about that. I saw that as a positive, and I felt like - but I do know students who did feel uncomfortable about their, you know, they were gay, and telling their parents some things for the first time were really very concerned about how they would be seen as a student on campus, but, again, I was in the human service program, and that was just a field that was very - that we were the leaders in being open and diversity and multicultural education so certainly that wasn't ever anything that was uncomfortable for people in our particular program I don't think.

KH: Did you date or have any relationships when you were at UWO?

CM: I did. So, the student at River Falls that I was dating - he graduated and did his student teaching, so, and then ended up getting a job in the area where 43:00I was, and then, which is why I decided to - things were going well for me at Oshkosh ,I had decided I wanted to stay there, so then he looked for a job in the area, and then we ended up kind of settling in Fond du La,c Wisconsin, so not long after I graduated - well no, we got married in 1999 and then we got divorced in 2001.

KH: Okay, tell me about those three experiences that you were talking about earlier.

CM: Oh, my field placements?

KH: Yeah.

CM: Yes, because I wanted to tell you about the third one especially.

KH: Okay.

CM: So, the first one was United Cerebral Palsy, and that was basically - I can't even remember it - so many hours that you had to do, and you could choose where you wanted to do these experiences. And that was like - there was one kid 44:00in particular - I would do respite care with United Cerebral Palsy, so they worked with obviously folks that had cerebral palsy, and one of their big programs was their respite programs. So, families that were taking care of their children needed a break, and they could come and stay at this house for weekend care, and so I helped, you know, I was actually doing weekend care with people there, and there was one kid in particular who was - he was not able to speak, but he knew sign language, and I was determined. I did learn some sign language so that he and I could communicate, and what little I remember of my sign language now was all from my ability to communicate with him, and then we had another volunteer there who was actually a student at River Falls, and he has cerebral palsy himself, he was wheelchair bound, and had a lot of speech issues, but super cool guy, and I learned a lot about cerebral palsy from him, and that was the couple highlights, I guess, from that experience. And then volunteers in 45:00probation, also, was a great resume builder for me, and the lady that runs the program at the time gave me a lot of autonomy, so I had clients that I would work with that were - had been charged with lesser crimes, and they could choose to enroll in this Volunteers in Probation program, so basically we were providing their probation and then deciding what their sanctions would be and usually it involved them doing some sort of community service or some sort of educational opportunity for them to learn from whatever their, you know, mistake had been, so that was a really awesome experience for me going ahead as a working person. But the best experience was my venturing out to Florida and working for Save the Manatees. Can I talk about that for a minute?

KH: Yeah, go ahead.

CM: Okay, so at the time when people did their final field placement people went to places like the Boys and Girls Club, the Christine Anne Center, the YMCA, 46:00local human service organizations in Oshkosh area. And I had this grand idea because I had gone scuba diving down in the Keys, and I had come nose to nose with a manatee and I, again, you heard me have my childhood dream of being a marine biologist, I had this idea of could I go down to Florida and work with Save the Manatee, the non-profit organization that was doing education and research and really trying to save manatees in Florida, and they were non-profit so I was trying to figure out how could I go down to Florida and do this - something really cool with the manatees and fulfill my obligations for my educational standpoint. So, first of all, I went to my professor and said "What about going out of state to do an internship?" and they said "Well, that's never 47:00been done before, but, you know, it's not totally out of the realm of possibilities. What were you thinking? We need to figure out who would supervise you; we've never done this before." But they were open to the idea, but it hadn't been done before. So, on the flip side I contacted Save the Manatees to see if they had an internship program. They did not. I said "Would you like to have an intern?" and they said they would not. So, I was kind of running into road blocks, but I'm a pretty persistent person, so I ended up typing up something, [unclear] sending it to the executive director of Save the Manatee, asking her if I could make a phone call, like, schedule a phone call with her and bend her ear a little but - which did happen, and basically said, you know, "I could come down to Florida and work for a semester for free for your organization." I can do - here are my skills, I think I could be an asset, and 48:00on the flip side, what I'm looking to get from your organization is a better understanding on how a non-profit organization functions from top to bottom. So, I want to see your roles as an executive director, and I want to find out all the different aspects of how you gain your funding and what your programming looks like and how you put this together. That was my educational goal, and, you know, basically. And then I went back to the university and then we had to go through a lot, I just remember going to a lot of meetings and just waiting to hear back, they had to go to the head of the department, the head of the College of Education in Human Services, there had to be all kinds of approvals and then the big question was who was going to supervise me, does that mean one of my professors had to fly down to Florida and see me down there or what? And I ended up finding a professor at a local private university in Florida and I found a woman who agreed to be my supervisor while I was down there and they [unclear] a 49:00relationship with UW Oshkosh and the cool part about it is now the human service program at Oshkosh sends students all over the globe for their final field placement, like people go really cool places. And Save the Manatee, when I went down and worked down there, one of the things I did for my internship was to create an internship program for Save the Manatee. And Save the Manatee also now offers way cooler internships than I did with them, more students are really doing in depth work with Save the Manatee, so I kind of helped that happen for our human service program, but I also helped that happen for the Save the Manatee too so. And then I got to live out my dream of being a marine biologist.

KH: Yeah, that's cool.

CM: For a winter. Yeah, and I was able to connect with the director of marine research for the state of Florida, Dan Odell who got me into Sea World, and I actually did a second internship just on my own with Sea World, and so I got to 50:00work with all the animals that I ever wanted to work with.

KH: Aw, that's nice. What would you say was your most memorable college experience?

CM: Well, that. My manatee experience was one of my favorite life experiences in general. My most memorable at Oshkosh experience, I guess, probably would be cheerleading. Like, I mean we had - I guess I just have very fond memories of cheering for Oshkosh. I also have fond memories of our human services organization. We had a really awesome Christmas party one year, and we made up all these fun games, and it -- like, I have pictures from it, and stuff that I look back at sometimes that are really fun, and I received the campus award right before I graduated so that was kind of an honor and a positive memory as well.

KH: That's cool. So, how did you feel when you finished college?

51:00

CM: Relieved and happy. I walked the graduation/ it was kind of weird for me. So, I was graduated in May of 1997, but I actually walked through graduation in December of 1996. So, I walked through graduation with people who were not necessarily in all my classes at that time. So, because I walked through graduation, and then I went down to Florida to do my internship, and after my internship I ended up - they hired me on to do a project for them, so I lived in Florida for a while after that. And I did come back to Oshkosh a couple times because I did help work on creating this internship program for students at Oshkosh, and then I was on a couple different committees after I graduated within the human services program when they were looking and doing accreditation 52:00and looking at how they were going to structure field placements abroad at that point, so I definitely - and I would come back and speak to some human service classes, too, and talk about my experience and setting up the whole Save the Manatee thing and then tying that into my human service program about my experience as a human service professional so.

KH: Okay, when you first graduated college what did you want to do?

CM: Well, I would've loved to have stayed in Florida, but I came back again/ I had a lot of things in my life, for my boyfriend at the time, and we ended up getting married, so I really, like I said, I was really just applying for jobs within the human service field, and I ended up landing my first job was in Menasha, which is right by Oshkosh/ I worked for, now it's Reach Counseling Services, but at the time it was called Sexual Abuse Services, so it was an opportunity for me to use my degree in human services and then also my criminal 53:00justice background, so I was a prevention educator there, that was my first job, and I had a job right away, like I didn't have any problems.

KH: Okay.

CM: Yeah, I was actually fortunate enough/ I remember being nervous about, you know, sending my resume out, and, you know, my cover letter, and doing all those things, and I applied to a number of different organizations, and I got hired by - I got offers from all of them, so I actually had the luxury of saying "Okay, now what seems like the best fit for me?" So I had a great first job out of college.

KH: Okay, how did college prepare you for life after college?

CM: Oh, well I think my specific major and the classes that I took did directly help me in my job in terms of some especially with like the grant writing and program development and things of that nature, but I think, overall, I think 54:00college in general just prepares you to be more open minded and well-rounded. I think as an adult I realize now why sometimes you have to take some of those general classes or classes that don't seem to pertain you know, people think "Oh, I want to take the classes that are specific to what my major is!" and you have to do all these General Ed classes, and you think well, why am I taking this? Once I graduated and got into the real world, I guess, I better understood why we do that as students, and it's just to create a broader knowledge base and a more well-rounded human being, so I think all those things have value. Yeah so.

KH: Okay, and you said when you were in college you did a lot of volunteer work. Do you still do volunteer work?

CM: I do, I don't do nearly as much as I used to. I do much less since I had 55:00children, and now a lot of my volunteer work is around my kids, so I have three kids very close in age, so when I started volunteering when the boys were really little I was on the board for their preschool, and then when they - then when we moved to a different community, I joined the board of that preschool, and then I was the fundraising director and then I got on PTO [Parent-Teacher Organization], and then I was the PTO president for a few years, and then I added into a psych counsel that would oversee the whole district and became the president of that organization. So, more volunteer work that's specific to teaching Sunday school and church, things that were related to what my kids were involved in versus before I was volunteering for, you know, anything that at all seemed appealing to me. I used to volunteer and teach art classes at the Children's Museum in Appleton, and I used to volunteer for Special Olympics, and I volunteered for a domestic violence agency, and I did - I continued doing 56:00volunteer work with United Cerebral Palsy, and, oh my gosh, I can't even think of all, I mean I kind of volunteered in every nursing home with every population you can imagine.

KH: Have you gotten to work with any animals since the manatee experience?

CM: No, I haven't. I still love animals, but I haven't done anything work wise or anything with animals, but I still love animals.

KH: Okay, do you own any animals?

CM: I have a cat named Zoey, and we have a hamster and a leopard gecko and a fish.

KH: Oh, nice.

CM: Yeah.

KH: Alright, what are your thoughts about UWO now?

CM: I have positive, I mean, I had a positive experience there. I would, you know, I would definitely say good things about that terms if someone was think 57:00about going to Oshkosh I would be like "Oh I went there! Go Titans!" I think it's a good school. I think it's a nice size, like, its bigger, but not too big, and where you get lost in a sea of people, so, I think that, yeah, I just had a positive experience, so I have, you know, fond memories of being there as a student, and certainly, you know, feel supportive of campus in general, and I don't live near - I lived on that side of the state for 20 years, but we moved back to the River Falls area where I grew up in 2009 so - but I do go back once in a while for homecoming, and I get together with some college friends and we go to the football games.

KH: Okay, so you have been back to UWO since you graduated?

CM: Oh yeah, and a lot - I mean I lived in Fond du Lac and Appleton until 2009 is when we moved here, and I lived in Appleton for almost 10 years, so I was in 58:00Oshkosh and on campus, and I used to coordinate the Take Back the Night for the Fox Cities - I did that for 10 years, and that event ends at - on campus, so I - and then I would rent meeting rooms on campus for work. I mean, I worked in that area too, I used to work for the Appleton Police Department, and then I worked for the Fond du Lac county, and so and then I covered all of Winnebago County doing education, so I was on campus a lot probably for this, you know, 10 years after I graduated, just less now because I moved away, but I'm back there about once a year. I got married - my second husband I have my children with, we've been married for 15 years, and we got married at the Paine Art Center and Garden which is just down the street from campus.

KH: Okay.

CM: So yeah.

KH: Alright, what have you done since college?

CM: Nothing. Not a thing. No, well I got married, got divorced, got married 59:00again, had three children Mathew, Aiden, and Isaac, my two oldest boys are 12 and my youngest is 10. And I traveled a lot, I scuba dived, I mentioned that so I've been all over the Caribbean, Mexico, diving I've done, I've dived in Lake Superior, I've traveled to Egypt for a month, I dove in the Red Sea/ I love to travel, so I've tried to do as much of that - I did a lot of that up until I had children. And then my work-wise, I did mention my first job, most of my background is related to it is related to trauma. So, my specialty is I do law enforcement training for the state of Wisconsin for the department of justice, I did sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse investigative training for 60:0010 years as a consultant. A lot of work, I did work grant projects so I would come into a community - my niche was to look at how a community is responding to sexual assault and domestic violence, so I always looked at the judicial system, law enforcement, advocacy, hospital, and see how things are working, what's working well, what's not working and then develop a strategic plan for that community as to how to move forward, so that kind of became my niche. I did a lot of traveling around the country, then at conferences and things talking about how to implement a program similar to what I developed in their community. A lot of training in the area of sexual violence and domestic violence, not just with law enforcement, but within the community. And then, my most recent job back in the Fox Cities was I worked for the Appleton Police Department, and that's when I started going outside of just domestic violence and sexual violence, and I started looking at trauma in general, so I developed crisis 61:00units for a number of law enforcement agencies in that area and started a crisis response team which is still happening, there's Neenah, Menasha, they all have crisis response teams through the Appleton Police Department, and it's a program where we have volunteers that are trained in crisis response that are going along with police officers to any situation where someone has been affected in a negative way, so if your house is broken in to or if there's a death notification, if you've been a victim of a crime, if there was a really bad car accident, people are really injured you're meeting with families at the hospital to provide emotional support and then getting people through the first 24 to 48 hours of an incident and then connecting them to resources in the community, and I loved my job, and it was a perfect marriage of my background in human services and criminal justice. It was a very good fit for me. And then now I currently I work for the University of Wisconsin River Falls, where I started as a student, 62:00and I'm the violence prevention coordinator on campus there, that's what I do now. That's a new position for me and the campus. So, I was home raising my children for 12 years so my last job was the Appleton Police Department and then I had kids, and then we moved here, and then I just started working November 1st for the university.

KH: Okay.

CM: But I'm back in my field using both of my, you know, both, like I said, the criminal justice and human service sides.

KH: Alright, to kind of close things up a little bit, what advice would you give to current college students?

CM: Take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you on campus and within your university because I don't think students utilize everything that available to them. From student health and counseling, like take care of your physical health, you can see a counselor for free usually on campus. Are you 63:00utilizing what your career services has to offer? Is there multicultural education happening on your campus? Like, get involved in the things that are on your campus and take advantage of the opportunities. The universities offer so many opportunities, I don't think students always take the time to do that 'cause sometimes you're either caught up in your social life or maybe you're really focused on your education, and you forget about some of the things that are in between that. And even some campuses, I don't know if Oshkosh does, but have a dietician on campus. My gosh, you have to pay when you graduate! Take advantage of the things that are free and available to you while you're a student there. They're valuable. And then to - just getting involved in whatever area interests you, because I think that helps you from an academic standpoint it will help you to have experiences when you graduate because you can graduate 64:00with a 4.0 and have these really great grades, but if you don't have any life experience or work type experience you know those things have a lot of value as well, so I think people should you know think about those things. And try to have fun and not take life too seriously, too, because the social, maybe emotional growth, that happens while you're a student is important, just as important as the statistics class you have to take.

KH: Well that is all the questions I have for you.

CM: Okay.

KH: If you have any pictures from like cheerleading or just anything from UWO that you would be willing to share with me.

CM: Oh sure.

KH: If you could just email them I can put them in my presentation that would be helpful.

CM: Yeah, I'll do that. Although sadly, I think about it now, if we would've had cell phones when I was in college I would have tons of pictures for you. We had to take camera pictures and take them in and get their film developed, so I 65:00don't have as many as I would like, but I have some pictures I can send you. Just send them to your email address?

KH: Yep!

CM: Okay.

KH: Well thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it a lot.

CM: Yeah you're welcome, thanks for listening to all my stories.

KH: No problem, it was great talking to you.

CM: Okay thanks.

KH: Alright, bye.

CM: Bye.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear