Interview with Christopher Welch, 04/27/2017

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Alex Gressel , Interviewer | uwocs_Christopher_Welch_04272017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

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Alex Gressel: It is 6:11 p.m. Central Time Monday April 24th, I Alex Gressel am the interviewer and can you please state your name Record

Christopher Welch: Christopher Welch

AG: Christopher Welch is the Interviewee and this is for the campus stories oral history project, so Chris where did you grow up?

CW: I was born in Minnesota in (Waukesha) and then shortly afterwards I, around third grade we moved to Ripon, Wisconsin where I did grade school all the way to high school so I was primarily in Wisconsin in that region

AG: Okay and what was it like growing up, what was it like moving while growing 1:00up? Was it tough on you or was it a pretty easy move?

CW: Um, I mean at that point I was just a little too young to even know [too much of it] and stuff I guess it makes you a little bit sad because you’re leaving your friends or whatever at that young age, eh, it was alright at that point I realized I could make friends anywhere I went, so

AG: And what was the community like when you arrived at Ripon? Did a lot of people go to college around you?

CW: Yeah a good portion of us that graduated in my class we went to college. A good portion of them went to Ripon College, but I wanted to get out and eh start seeing other towns at the time um, and so yeah. Sadly, I started leaving friends 2:00from high school, but some of them [unknown]

AG: Ok and did your parents did the emphasize education growing up?

CW: Yes, very much so. Yeah my entire family pretty much emphasizes education, even on both sides of the family for grandparents. My father was a surgeon who did is medical school at Mayo clinic and my mother was a nurse anesthetist who also graduated from Mayo Clinic and that’s where they met. I come from a very medical background family so it just made me look into that route and go into education.

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AG: And so growing up through school elementary, middle, and high school what sort of classes and activities did you take interest in

CW: I kind of had this, [we all had this] thing of courses up until I got to about high school because that’s like when you can kind of deviate between physics from chemistry and other specialized science classes, but generally for the most part is was pretty [easy] they had a curriculum that was followed, trodden, tested so you have a background in all things. As for activities, I was in cross country for 4 years in high school, in spring I kind of tried out a lot 4:00of different sports. My freshman year of high school I was I did the golf team there. In sophomore year I was a sprinter for the track and field team, I also did high jump in that event. My last two years of school in the spring were all dedicated to tennis where I was part of the conference team.

AG: So sports were pretty important growing up?

CW: Yeah, they kept me active and kept me busy in things. All of my friends we all kind of did extracurricular things. It wasn’t just sports for me, I have been playing piano since I was 5 years old, so I kind of kept up with that all through high school and even now I’m still playing the piano. It was always a 5:00little talent I kind of discovered when I was young and I kind of just kept up with it the best I could.

AG: And you mentioned Ripon is a littler town, isn’t it?

CW: Yeah at the time I was going there, there was roughly 7,000 or 8,000 people in the township.

AG: Alright, and so what did you do for fun besides sports? Anything in the community?

CW: I was part of the church at the time, so there were church things that we 6:00would do, those were kind of whatever was going on for that particular event.

AG: So was religion important for your family then?

CW: It wasn’t stressed, but it was just something we did kind of did on Sunday’s. We grew up Episcopalian my father and sister did that and so we believe in most things that Catholics do but it is a little bit more lighter. It was always more relaxed views on religion but it was also important too. Hanging 7:00out with friends trying to understand high school.

AG: I know you mentioned that both of your parents were doctors or whatever and went to med school and whatnot. What made the decision for you to pursue higher education?

CW: Well initially my father died when I was in 5th grade and then I always thought that it was one of the things my older brother or younger sister would do. So I was kind of like ok, you have to do this here. I went into college 8:00initially expecting to go into med school, so that was my initial thought. I kind of grew up in a hospital so I was always spending time with family there and hanging out I guess when I was a kid.

AG: You mentioned you had siblings, are they older or younger.

CW: Yeah, I have an older brother and a younger sister. Alex is in Chicago and my sister is in North Carolina.

AG: And what made you decide to go to college where you went to start?

9:00

CW: Well because when I first went to college, I went to St. Norbert initially, at that point it was a private school, and they offered me a pretty big scholarship to go because I had good grades and everything. So I took a shot with that and after being there for a little bit I realized there was going to be a lot of, it was going to be a lot more expensive there so I transferred out to UW Oshkosh and that is where I did my full education.

AG: What made you decide to transfer to UWO out of all of the other schools?

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CW: When I left I was looking into the University of Minnesota, I was looking into UW Madison and all those other places, and that would have been that I realized that at Oshkosh I was going to get more like student-teacher interaction and everything and I kind of figured it was going to be overall better education and plus I figured that it will be a little bit cheaper for me to get my goals all set.

AG: So you knew that it was smaller, but what else did you know coming into UWO?

CW: I knew that the science program was pretty good, so I was already onboard 11:00with doing science of some sort for a career. It made sense for me to go to a school that had a pretty good science basis condition.

AG: You had a taste of college before you came to UWO, so overall what was your first week of classes like at both St. Norbert and UWO?

CW: It was different time periods, when you first go to college you have like it’s a whole different world and you’re not exactly sure how things are supposed to go until you kind of find your stride, so when I first got to St. 12:00Norbert I was a little bit more wide-eyed but like kind of excited because I was finally free. But when I got to Oshkosh, I was a little bit more grounded with my expectations because I had done a whole new university before, so I knew what needed to get done also I know how to have extracurricular and fun activities, it was more realistic approach when I came to Oshkosh.

AG: What was your major at the time you started out?

CW: When I started at St. Norbert or Oshkosh?

AG: St. Norbert's

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CW: At St. Norbert's I had a I was doing a biology degree. That had a pre-med major things and I was taking classes for that. As for Oshkosh, I went straight for the biology healthcare degree.

AG: How did you decide on biology healthcare degree?

CW: I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field so that’s the major that most pre-med, pre health, pre pharmacy people would do, so I kind of just went that route because I knew I wanted to do something with medicine.

AG: Besides your core classes for your major, I’m sure you took some gen eds, 14:00can you tell me a little bit about those?

CW: Yeah, I actually liked my gen eds, to me, school came a little bit easy I guess. Not easy, I still worked and everything but I enjoyed that gen eds because I feel like they made me a little bit more well-rounded. I liked philosophy, classes, history classes and ethics and all of that stuff, it kind of gave me a ground and foundation of how to think for myself and kind of opened the eyes for other possibilities in life, so there were fun and interesting as well as the major classes I took too.

AG: Did you like on campus your first few years?

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CW: My first year there I lived in the dorms, I was in Scott Hall, 8th floor north, if I remember correctly. After the first year I was like ok, I am going to get an apartment. So I made some friends there in the dorms and we got an apartment and I was in 2 different apartments entirely while I was at Oshkosh. The second one was a much better option for me at the time. So we made things work and the living situations worked. So you said you had 2 different 16:00apartments. What was apartment life like?

CW: Well they were both not owned by the campus they were both private companies. I forget the first one, but it doesn’t matter we didn’t want to stay anyways, but the second one we went into there was kind of like a bridge between dormitory like and apartments and so we just went with that because it was all had some pretty good parts and there was nothing but college kids in the complex we were at so everyone we were hanging out with and were neighbors of us 17:00were all college students so it just worked out. Pretty good community.

AG: Were you close to campus in the apartments?

CW: About a 10 minute walk to most of my classes, so it didn’t take long for me to if I was late for a class, I could get out the door and book it and be there in like 5 minutes.

AG: What about the food, what was the food like from dorms compared to apartment?

CW: So I had a cafeteria meal plan for all the years I was at Oshkosh, it was 18:00just easier to when you got with classes if you couldn’t walk home, or if you didn’t want to walk all the way home and back I would just stay at the cafeteria and just good food there and It worked out good for me and It was just much more convenient. I tell myself I was a cook but it was much, food was food to me. It was just a convenience factor, that’s all that came down to it.

AG: Now you said that you lived in an apartment with some friends and stuff, what are some of the memories that you have with your friends that you made on campus?

CW: Some I would rather not have on the record I would say I made great friends 19:00at Oshkosh. We have a lot of fond memories and everything and yeah, they’re friends I'll have for the rest of my life and still keep in contact with. AG: What did you do for fun at Oshkosh?

CW: I was a part of a few extracurriculars there and my friends were part of the soccer league so I was every now and then doing soccer stuff with them. I was part of the Chemistry Club all 4 years at UWO. The last 2 years of the chemistry 20:00club, I was the President of the Chemistry Club, so it was fun interacting with all other science clubs at Halsey, as for things I did on my own, I kept up with piano until I was, they used to have open mic nights,

AG: Titan Underground?

CW: Yeah, it wasn’t the Titan Underground, it was above that in that little coffee shop area, I forget what it was, they changed the names of them so often that I don’t even know, but so I was doing the open mic nights singing and 21:00playing piano there, and it was always fun to be up there and play and few songs and get out and start partying again. It was always fun, it was really whatever we wanted to do we just kind of had the time.

AG: Did you participate in any talent shows?

CW: I did, I was part of the what they were telling me was the first talent show for homecoming, I think that was in 2009 or 2008, I don’t know but I guess there were in the middle of filming my performance and the person's battery died so it was like a 10 second clip of me doing my performance, so it was a lot of fun. Made a 22:00few good friends out of that one.

AG: Did you participate in any other homecoming events? Or just the talent show?

CW: Yeah, I was part of a fraternity when I was at Oshkosh, so I didn’t really do too much with homecoming, I think that was the maximum I did with homecoming at that point.

AG: Back to the chemistry club, you mentioned that you were president for 2 years, I saw on their website that you were the designer can you tell me a little bit about that?

CW: Yeah, so there was like a little bit of a pet project at the time, when I 23:00was Secretary, the second year I was part of the Chemistry Club one of the guys, who was the President kind of passed me with designing website to keep the dates and minutes to keep it updated and everything. I did a good job initially, but keeping it updated and I designed it all but I think right now is a completely different format than what it was, it is normal computers now, and I'm pretty sure the background is all messed up. I think it just requires a little bit of updating and it could be back up again, but at the time it was just a little project that I did, because I dabbled in a lot of computer science stuff, so like coding and web design

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AG: I also noticed you were part of the windows UCrew, Can you tell me a little bit about that?

CW: Yeah, so at the Windows crew, I was regional manager in the central Wisconsin area, it was on a business card that they sent me. My job was to troubleshoot window issues that people sent me that they would have, while also advertising and showing off windows projects such as, their tables, Windows 8 was just officially out, so I was showing off phones, laptops, tablets, Xbox, showing how things were supposed to function. For me, it was a pretty good job 25:00to have as a college student, the only reason I didn’t do it a second year was because I was graduating at the time. It was a big job and everything was designed so the person who was employed would be social, social with everyone around them and it kind of just worked out, it just organized me and was a great job to have at the time.

AG: So your computer was that growing up? Did you always find an interest in computers, or was that something that came along later?

CW: Yeah, my dad was into computes a lot, so I kind of got interested and 26:00growing up in a generation where the first personal computers were in homes, and yeah it was just an interesting new thing you could do just about anything with. There was a little bit of coding, flash and coding and stuff it was always fun to do, something to think, oh that’s interesting and I can do this, this or this with it and it was never something to be a job or anything, just more of a hobby for me just like the piano was.

AG: I also noticed you were a pharmacy tech at one point, can you tell me a 27:00little bit about that?

CW: I worked at Walgreen's for two years in the beginning when I was at Oshkosh. So, initially I wanted to do pharmacy, that’s where I knew I didn’t want to do med school, so I was like ok I’ll do pharmacy because I was good at chemistry and everything, I thought that pharmacy would be great for me. So yeah I thought that pharmacy was going to be a good fit for me, so I contacted one of our friends, who was the pharmacy manager at Walgreen's and he got me into being 28:00a pharmacy technician at Walgreen's for 2 years, and I think at the end of the 2 years was when I decided I did not want to do pharmacy, so that’s when I kind of switched it up and started looking for other medical specialties.

AG: Back to the chemistry club kind of, what were some of the activities or fun things you remember from being in the Chemistry Club?

CW: I think my favorite was the demolition night, we would pretty much have chemical reactions set up and we would run the reactions and just kind of show off, like this is what Chemistry does, and potassium chloride and sugar reactions, we did like a thermite reaction at one point, just things that used 29:00lights and everything, it was fun. A for social stuff, with all the other science clubs we would host like, we did like a poker night at one point and so we did like Chemistry Jeopardy. When I was there at one point we visited a brewery just to see how stuff was made. Yeah, so it was a lot more, but I can’t remember anything much more from it at this point...

AG: Staying on the Chemistry track, you were an organic chem lab technician, right? Can you tell me a little bit about that?

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CW: Yeah, so I did that for a year and a half. I was actually hired to be the organic chemistry lab technician while I was taking Organic Chemistry 2, because they needed someone to do it and at the time I was like I aced my Organic Chem 1 class very easily and I was doing well in Organic Chemistry 2, so they were like ok, yeah you can have that job if you want. So at the time when I was just starting the job, I was quite literally preparing my own labs that I was going to be doing for that week. So it made it very easy to get a partner for lab.

AG: I can imagine. You also did some research when you were at UW Oshkosh, I 31:00believe with Dr. James Paulson?

CW: That’s right

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

CW: Yeah, so we were looking into a gt40 [leukemia] chicken cell, looking at synchronization where were could potentially sync cancer cells up and put in the cell cycles. It was a great experience, I think I did that for a year and it was just random stuff, all the experiments and stuff that he had and on one try we were pretty successful with it so it was a pretty good experience for me.

AG: Would you say that helped you out later on in life?

32:00

CW: I would definitely say so yeah, it gave me a good experience for a lab which I used for a job later.

AG: While you went to UWO, I found that you were also a head intern at Clean Boats Clean Waters?

CW: I was. Yeah, so I was the, I kind of got into it. I did the clean boats clean waters thing for 3 years, and I was the head intern for the 3rd year I was part of it. Essentially we would go out to the docks in the Lake Winnebago chain, and explain to them the importance to the boats when getting them out of 33:00the water and it was kind of to monitor any kind of invasive species transfers that were going on, so it was a great internship, I did it for 3 years, I got to spend a lot of time outdoors in the summertime, so I was very fortunate to have that, so it gave me good experiences for interacting with people and dealing with biological samples and stuff.

AG: What sort of sparked your interest for that?

CW: I had a friend that was in the, she was a chemistry prepper at the time and she told me that there was an opening if I wanted to join in, and I was like 34:00yeah, why not, I’ll get another job for school and so I joined the internship and at that point I was like, this is great. I enjoyed what I was doing all while helping out a cause and yeah, it was a job and everything, It wasn’t like we were sitting around and not doing anything , there were other summers jobs I could have had, that was probably one of the better ones.

AG: Where was Ripon compared to UW Oshkosh?

CW: Where was what?

AG: Where is Ripon, Ripon Wisconsin, compared to UW Oshkosh?

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CW: I think the driver from UW Oshkosh campus to Ripon was about 35-40 minutes, so it wasn’t that far, but it was far enough for me to kind of have my own thing going on.

AG: Did you have a car or anything while you were here?

CW: Yeah, I had a, I was able to get my own car, but I was able to buy a brand new Hyundai Elantra, it was during the financial stock market crashes and so they were doing this cash for clunkers thing, so it gave me a good boost and I got a car with a good deal and bought my first car during that time period and had it during the whole time of school and I still got it now.

36:00

AG: Did you go home much or did you stay at school for the most part?

CW: I stayed at school for the most part. It was only rare times when I actually went back home. Just like if something was going on at home, or if help was needed back home, or for like an evening or just if anything was going on. It was nice to just be able to kind of help back home, and then go right back to classes the next day.

AG: Besides the clubs and stuff you participated in, did you go to any sporting events?

CW: Not so much, I would go to a few of them. I went to maybe 2 football games 37:00the entirety I was at Oshkosh, but I wasn’t too active in the sporting, the college sporting events at that time.

AG: I know you mentioned before you’d fill in for soccer a little bit, did you do anymore with intramurals?

CW: I would just do pick-up games with them every now and again, but they were few and far between. They were on a real team, but I didn’t have any interest in being part of anything real at the time.

AG: Do you remember any important and social or political issues while you were on campus?

CW: Well there was stuff that was going on, there was also I was at school while 38:00the 2012 election happened and that was different than this election that happened right now, but well it was interesting to see everyone's beliefs and everything. I was always an in the middle of the road kind of voter, so I never really tried to focus in on the being too far extreme or whatever, but it was interesting seeing everyone else’s beliefs and stuff.

AG: You mentioned the recession and stuff, can you tell me a little about what the student body was during this time? Was it smaller or bigger? Did it grow over your 4 years?

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CW: I don’t recall if it was actually smaller or not, it was just sort of like I don’t really recall any population dips or anything like that.

AG: You finished college in 4 years, correct?

CW: Yes.

AG: Alright, and you did 4 years at UWO or was it 3?

CW: Four.

AG: Ok, and overall, how do you feel like your college experience was?

CW: I think it was great, I enjoyed it. It was definitely something that I would recommend to people to do, it just kind of helps you with being kind of rounded. 40:00At least the experience in some classes make you rounded about something. Another thing, if I could go back to school, I would take a little bit more gen eds than electives, but for me right now, it’s not a priority.

AG: You mentioned the gen eds and stuff, what exactly was the gen ed program like when you went here?

CW: It was just picking classes, like philosophy, ethics, history classes, I took an evolutionary psychology class that I thought was pretty interesting. But 41:00it was just all established I guess. They didn’t really have too many bad classes from what I can remember, and yeah, I enjoyed it.

AG: So it was pretty much just pick so many classes from this thing, and so many classes from this subject or whatever?

CW: Yeah, yeah you kind of had to pick what kind of things peaked your interest or whatever.

AG: What would you say was the biggest thing or a couple of biggest things that you learned from being a college student?

CW: Besides the scientific principles or what?

42:00

AG: Just whatever, whatever you want.

CW: I learned a lot of chemistry, that I still remember and all of that, but I don’t know, just basic ethic and philosophy principles and everything. They just kind of kept me more, I don’t know, I think more so approach things when I’m talking about issues or social issues because of college.

AG: Did you ever have trouble with time? Like was that a big adjustment for you? Time management?

CW: No, not really. In the grand scheme of things I was probably a bad student 43:00because of time management and stuff, but my grades didn’t reflect it, I don’t know. For me school was easy, it was easier for me to grasp concepts and other things I guess, I don’t know. For me it kind of just made sense.

AG: You were a Biology with a Healthcare Emphasis major, when did know or how did that help you decide what you were going to do after college?

CW: It kind of just gave me a basic biology that covered all the purposes for all the healthcare fields I could possibly get into, so for that I knew I was 44:00going to go somewhere medical, I just didn’t know what, and so that degree was helpful for me, because I ended up what I did with good effort.

AG: When did you know what you wanted to do?

CW: I believe it was 2012, summertime of that. I was looking into doing PT, and then I discovered prosthetics and robotics for amputees, and I wanted to see a little bit more or that, and so I volunteered at Mayo Clinic’s prosthetics laboratory in Rochester, Minnesota and it was a short time during the summer 45:00time. Just to see what was going on. At that point I was hooked in a spot that I knew I could build, treat patients and get a pretty good experience in following jobs and got a lot out of it.

AG: I see that you were a regional manager at Fluent GRP, group I’m assuming? Can you?

Yeah, yeah, it was originally the Microsoft management thing, they just changed their, they made a separate company out of it all, and I don’t know what it 46:00was, because it was after I left. I just realized at one point that they switched names.

AG: Ok. How did your college experience help you out in the real world? Job wise afterwards?

CW: So after school I was dating, all through college I was dating a girl in what ended up being a 6 year relationship so we were dating for nearly all of Oshkosh’s duration, and then got a job into the workforce and then into prosthetic school we, she was doing her grad school in Indiana, and so I moved 47:00down there at that point with no job, because I wanted to take a break from schooling before I went to PO school. There I found a job with Baxter Pharmaceuticals, being a microbiologist. I did that job for a year, and I feel like school helped prepare me for a lot of like the lab settings, especially doing my student research and the chemistry lab preparing job. It was just kind of different getting back into the workforce and stuff like that, but it was a good experience to stay grounded and test new waters or whatever.

48:00

AG: What was the job market like then?

CW: You’re asking me the question my boss asked me when I was applying for the job. He asked me “of all the places to go to, for a microbiology job, why did you come here? There is nothing here.” I was like well I came down here to be with a girl and I wanted to see what it would be like down here and at the end of the interview he offered me a job to be a microbiologist, and so it all worked out. Along with the experiences with being the manager, and being the head intern really prepared me for a lot of social interactions and workforce 49:00and acting professional and interviewing and all of that. After I was a microbiologist for a year and identifying organisms in classified areas essentially for that job I had to dawn in biosearch, no portion of your body can be exposed to the environment, and that was my job for a year and it was a high stressful job, but it paid well and it paid the bills and it was a different experience than from what I can say most college students get. Yeah, it was a different job. But I knew I didn’t want to entirely do that job, so when it 50:00came time for it, I applied for prosthetics school and I got into it and I got my first choice in prosthetics school.

AG: What are your thoughts on UW Oshkosh now?

CW: At UW Oshkosh or the thoughts of UW Oshkosh?

AG: Yeah, what are your thoughts about it?

CW: It’s a good school, for the educations you get and everything, and the amount you put in. You put in what you expect to get out and everything. Like if you don’t show up to labs and the classes then there is no point in going to school and learning. If you’re looking for good education and good exposure to kind of 51:00different environment that is different than what you’re used to and just putting yourself out there. I had a good experience, I had a good time. I mean it’s all in the eye of the beholder and that stuff, but if I were to do it again, I would definitely consider doing Oshkosh again if I were to redo it all. But right now I'm setting my ways and I'm on my way to my career.

AG: What is some advice you would give to current students?

CW: Take your time, figure out what makes you happy or what excites you ,and 52:00whatever major and whichever electives that you like because a lot of the ones you can take in your life, it doesn’t have to be your job, but you can definitely use it in your life to be a better person. But take your time, don’t take shortcuts, go for the challenges and honestly, if you shoot for the moon and you don’t make it to the moon. I’m going to back up on this one. If you shoot for the stars, and don’t make it to the stars, at least you’ll make it to the mean. So that’s just what my life motto is. You know, try your best go for your dream, and if that dream doesn’t turn out exactly the way you wanted, at least you can know that you put yourself out there and took that 53:00shot. Knowing that at least puts a little bit of closure on whether or not you’ll be looking back and asking “what if?”

AG: So overall, you would say your college experience was a good experience?

CW: I would say so, yeah.

AG: Alright, is there anything else you would like to say? CW: Well, no just I’m finishing up my first year of residency in Pittsburgh and I'm about to go join the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for my second year of residency and that it 54:00doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you can get onto track and find the direction, you can make anything happen.

AG: Ok, I think that concludes it. Thank you for the interview and thank you for your time.

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