Interview with Cindy Fruhwirth, 04/19/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Jordan Foote, Interviewer | uwocs_Cindy_Fruhwirth_04192016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

JF: Alright, so, I'm Jordan Foote. Here with Cindy Fruhwirth on April 19th, 2016 conducting our oral history interview. Alright, so now where did you grow up?

CF: I actually grew up in Fond du Lac, so just south of here, about 30 minutes.

JF: Oh really, what was the neighborhood like?

CF: It was quiet and middle class, lower middle class I'd say, but primarily white, you know, not a lot of diversity in town at that time. I don't know, we rode our bikes, we had black and white TV.

JF: Was there a lot of kids in the neighborhood?

CF: Yeah, there were and we were outside all the time playing together.

JF: So very social neighborhood?

CF: It was. Yeah.

JF: Who all did you live with?

CF: My family is small, it's just my parents and my sister and I. My mom actually has a lot of health issues so she couldn't have more children. She wanted to, but she couldn't.

JF: So are you older or younger?

CF: Older, only 11, 13 months apart.

1:00

JF: Oh that was quick.

CF: Yeah it was. [Laughing].

JF: They tried to get those kids right away. [Laughing]. What did your parents do?

CF: My dad worked at Merc(ury) Marine for many many years. Back then it was Keekafer Outdoor Motors(?) and he didn't like it when they sold to Brunswick, who took over Mercury Marine and he stuck it out for a while and he ended up quitting and he went to work for, they used to make Slush Puppies, I don't know if you know what those are? Those ice slushy things.

JF: Oh yeah, yup.

CF: Out in Stolting (sp?) or in Kiel, the company name was Stolting? I don't know. Yeah, anyway he switched a couple jobs after that. And he ended up at Decumpsy (sp?) which makes lawn mower, riding mower and snow blower engines, and stuff like that. Motors. So they're also out someplace East of Fond du Lac as well.

JF: Was it hard for him to switch jobs a lot or did he not mind?

CF: You know what it was, because he didn't have his degree and it was interesting because they didn't think that I should go to college, it was expensive and not worth the time and the money because neither of them went to 2:00college. My dad did an apprenticeship to get into his jobs, they wanted a quality engineer and he did well, he did decent but he didn't have that degree so once he started. And later in life he had a hard time switching jobs a lot of the time having anyone take him seriously. Even though he had a lot of experience and tuff to bring to the table. Well yeah.

JF: Okay, yeah. So were you close with your neighbors? I know you said you hung out with the kids a lot, but were the families close with each other?

CF: Yeah, yeah they were. My mom would go over and have coffee with the other moms and stuff like that. And yeah kids all played together. One of my really good friends today is still one of my neighbors from that neighborhood. We actually met last night, we meet in Oshkosh sometimes, because I live in Neenah now.

So yeah, they were. They've moved on I think, they've kinda lost touch since moving around. My mom's poor health has kept her from keeping a lot of social connections and lives sadly. But yeah they were, they were, people were out and about and each other's friend. Support each other.

JF: Sounds like a good environment.

CF: It was, it was.

JF: Where did you attend high school?

3:00

CF: At that time it was called Goodrich, is now Fond du Lac High School. It was L.P. Goodrich High school until they built the new one that is now in existence. But ours was in the middle of town and so it was named after somebody.

JF: it didn't realize there was a high school prior to, well I knew they built a new high school but I didn't realize there was one prior to that.

CF: Yup, in the middle of town, for years and years. The little theater still attached to it? Goodrich Little Theater, they used to use in town for all they're little community events and stuff.

JF: Interesting.

CF: Yeah.

JF: What was the school like? Was it really big or?

CF: Yeah, it was large. Especially for that era. I think a lot of other cities didn't let they're schools get that big. So I graduated with over 600 students. Which was big for that, I graduated in '79. A long time ago. And we had 3 middle schools, they were called junior highs. We only had 10th, 11th, 12th at the high school. And we had 7th, 8th and 9th at the middle schools, the junior high schools is what they were. As feeders. And I came from a very small elementary school, smack dab in the middle of Fond du Lac. So about a third of our class, 4:00and usually we only had one grade per, you know one first grade, one second grade. Once in a while it was like 1.5 grades or something that had this weird shared room, yeah it was weird. So about a third of those kids went to one junior high, a third went to another, a third went to another. So I knew like 6 kids when I got to my junior high school which was large. Junior high had about 200 each, you know and they fed to the high school. So I didn't like that, those were hard years, those three years at the junior high. I had to try to make new friends and of course everyone else had come from larger elementary schools so all of their elementary school came there so they knew a nice subset of people. So it sorta, I suppose, as a person who comes from a very rural community to here and knows almost nobody. And you feel lost.

JF: Right.

CF: and my parents were fairly strict. They had strict dress code rules and this was late 60's when everyone was starting to wear jeans, transitioning form the older, dressing nicer to let's be casual and my parents were stuck on the older, 5:00dressing nicer, which made it even harder.

JF: So what kind of clothes did they make you wear?

CF: Dresses or stupid, ugly polyester pantsuits. [Laughing]

JF: oh sounds comfortable [Laughing].

CF: Uh huh. First thing I did when I was old enough was pitch all those babies.

JF: I probably would have done the same thing. Were the teachers really strict at Fond du Lac or was it more strict at home?

CF: my parents were more strict than my teachers. Yeah they just had that background and thought that was the right way to be, yeah and they weren't mean, you know there wasn't a lot of spanking or anything like that, but we were pretty good kids too. Really we were pretty compliant.

JF: Makes sense. It tends to, my parents are obviously not quite that strict but are fairly strict too and it's not an issue more so just cause we listen.

CF: Right, right, yeah.

JF: How important were your grades? Were you a hard worker?

CF: very hard worker. And that my just my own intrinsic drive. For me it was really important, I could tell you though, this is kind of a funny story because part of what drove that was when, back then in elementary school they just gave 6:00you satisfactory and unsatisfactory, they didn't really do grades yet. So the first grading happened in junior high school and my 6th grade teacher in elementary school, we were still in elementary school then, that year my neighbor, who is now still my best friend, the really good friend I just had dinner with had transferred from the catholic school system to the public schools system and that was the first year we were there together and we talked all the time and the teacher hated us because we talked all the time and made her crazy. And I had always gotten really good marks and was really well liked throughout all my elementary school years, in fact I got to sit in the principal's office and answer the telephones when they were both gone, there's only a principal and an assistant, to meetings, even in fourth grade they let me do that so that's how much they trusted me, but this 6th grade teacher did not like me because of this friend coming over.

JF: chatty.

CF: yeah. And she said to me, she literally said to me one day. You will never amount to anything and I was so taken aback and she said something about you're going to have a really hard time in middle- junior high school. So she's the 7:00first person, I got a 4.0 my first semester Woodworth Junior High school and she's the first person I showed. Could not wait to show her that she was wrong, that I could do it, you know. I was just, so instead of letting that dictate to me, letting that get into my head, it was a fighting song to me, to try that much harder, just to show her she was wrong. Just because I talked to my friend doesn't mean I'm not smart and doesn't mean I'm not learning. So anyway, I did very well.

JF: that's impressive.

CF: Yeah.

JF: to take the harshness of a teacher and flip it the other way, some kids typically give up and shut down.

CF: Right, right. Yeah. And in high school I graduated 11th out of those 600 kids.

JF: Wow that is very impressive.

CF: I had a 3.9 something, it wasn't quite a 4.0, but yeah.

JF: Were the classes tough?

CF: Yeah and I chose harder classes because I was up in those accelerated classes or whatever. Back then we didn't have AP or CAPP or any of those things, none of that. But I chose the honors classes or the next level up and stuff. But 8:00I just liked it, I, I work hard, I do. In fact I remember one class. A friend and I were together in an advanced biology class, I thought I might want to go into something in healthcare so I took an anatomy, physiology class, which I really ended up hating. But there too, I have always been kinda chatty and we ended up chatting a lot in class and I didn't get quite as good of grades as I wanted and the test leading up to the final, I wanted my A, I wanted my A and I went to talk to the teacher and said, if I get the highest grade on the final will you give me an A? Because I was somewhere in the B range or something. And he said he would because he didn't think I'd get it because other people in the class were doing better on their test than I was at that point. And I studied so hard and I did it, I got the highest grade in the class and he gave me an A.

JF: WOW.

CF: I know! But I studied really hard too, I mean I didn't take it lightly. Yeah so anyway.

JF: you sound very motivated, that's impressive. When you were in high school, 9:00did you have any dream colleges you wanted to go to?

CF: No because my parents did not value that idea at all. And the counselors, sadly, in those days and somewhat today do but I think they're much more practical today, but in that day they were so focused on everyone that was having trouble so they didn't have a lot of time for being proactive about encouraging kids. And college wasn't as big of a del. It wasn't the "of course everyone goes to college" like it is now. You know, maybe a third went kinda thing. But my friends in all my upper level classes were saying aren't you gonna write some scholarships, aren't you going to apply for college. And I'm like, no. and I had a job in a grocery store, it was union and it paid really well, twice what everyone else was getting paid at their job. It was a decent pay and I thought well I'll stick with that for a while and hear it out. And since my parents, I know I wanted to someday maybe stay home and raise my kids like my mom had done, I thought that was good to do, to be around for your kids, but after working full time that summer at the grocery store, I was like there's no 10:00way I'm going to just keep doing this. And you know I want to do something I enjoy doing. And that I value. So I enrolled in college like a week before it started at the UW colleges, UW Fond du Lac, Junior campus. You didn't really have to do anything, you didn't have to have an ACT done, because I hadn't prepped all those things and I wish the counselors had said to me, you should be applying to scholarships and here they are because your grades are so good. And you need to take the ACT to get ready for college. They had one meeting and said that might you want to do and I liked math and I liked art so I said I think I might like to do architecture because I like those two things and that would put them together. And they said okay here's a book about architecture and some schools you can go to and I looked and saw it took 6 years and went I don't want to go to school for 6 years?! And that was pretty much the end of the whole thing. And they never called me back and they never you know followed up and I sorta let it fall apart too. So anyway despite being driven in class, I didn't have a direction. No one, I didn't have any older siblings or older cousins, I'm 11:00the oldest in the family, all the way around. So I had no one else to give me direction and in my neighborhood no one was going to college yet either so it, luckily I figured it out right? Stumbled into it.

JF: worked out okay.

CF: Yeah, yeah.

JF: So did you just take that summer and go right to school then or did you take a year off?

CF: No it was just the summer.

JF: Just the summer.

CF: Yup. Yup.

JF: So right away you were like nope I'm done with this.

CF: 3 months and I'm like (negative facial expression).

JF: That was enough.

CF: Yeah, yeah.

JF: so you applied to UW Fox or whatever you said

CF: Fond du Lac, yeah.

JF: Okay, yeah and so did you go there for the two years?

CF: Just the one because I decided I would go for graphic design because I really did like art a lot and I wanted to do that and they didn't have enough art classes offered there. And I looked ahead at Oshkosh to see what they would have here. Because I knew they had a good program. And I looked, there was a couple around the state but I just thought this seems fine. Actually I still kept my job at the grocery store all this time, it was such good pay. And so I kept, I didn't take out loans until my fourth year because I kept working a lot, 12:00I worked a lot, full time in the summer and 30 hours during the semester. I was driving back and forth a lot. The first year I did move up here right away but I kept lots of hours down in fond du lac but my second year I quit that and finally took a job up here. It got too hard, all that driving and stuff. But um since I identified art they only had like four classes and I knew I'd be really far behind when I got here because they require 82 credits of studio art and art history and so I transferred already second year. It was good, it was a good thing to do, but then 2/3 of the way through the art degree I started questioning whether I was really going to like working in art because it's really subjective you know, you put all of these designs out there and you think you did this great job and a client doesn't especially like one of them or picks the one you like the least. Or whatever and I was getting kind of frustrated realizing what little control I had on the outcome or how much you put your heart and soul into something and it's seen differently. And I started a business minor thinking I wanted to go more in to advertising and marketing and 13:00I loved it. So I stuck around and got my business degree. And I was too far along, and almost nothing overlapped so I needed all this extra math that I didn't need before. I like math, I just hadn't had it in an awful long time. Years in between the last class. So I have lots and lots of credits but I finished both degrees in 5 years. I have 192 credits, so that's a lot. Yeah, too much! I don't recommend it, I don't recommend it!

JF: Lots of school!

CF: it was. It meant that I had a lot of 21 credit semesters and got no sleep, so.

JF: oh yeah I've been there.

CF: Yeah

JF: so did you look at Oshkosh because of the proximity to your home town?

CF: yup and the program. I mean it was both.

JF: little bit of both.

CF: Yeah.

JF: was it difficult to get into Oshkosh?

CF: not then. I wouldn't have had trouble because of my grades, I mean I had really good grades at Fond du Lac too. So I wouldn't have had trouble but back then, I know this so well because my first job was working here as an admissions counselor, so when I got my BBA degree they were looking for someone with a 14:00marketing kind of background to help in admissions because we had a bad reputation at the time. During the 60's and early 70's Oshkosh had open enrollment. Do you know what that means?

JF: I feel like I could use a clarification.

CF: it means if you could breathe you could come here.

JF: so just anybody?

CF: you had to have your high school diploma. You maybe, I don't know about a GED but at least your high school diploma. It was like the era of let everyone live and kind of a hippie era. They were kinda coming off of that they wanted to give everyone access to a college education but not everybody is ready for a college education. They weren't prepared.

JF: not everybody's thing.

CF: right! Well and if you don't have enough background skills, you're going to flounder when you get here. It still was difficult classes, they were till college classes, it's not like they were easier. So we had a really low retention rate and so when I was hired in the early 80's after finishing school here they were trying to undo that. They still had this reputation that if you can't get into anywhere else, go to Oshkosh. Because that was it for a while. 15:00Everybody could literally come here. So it completely changed and my director at the time was trying really hard to undo that. Leftover, I mean it was residual from 10-15 years ago, but it takes a long time to get that out of people's minds. You know?

JF: so when you came to Oshkosh was it still like that?

CF: Uh-uh.

JF: or how many years had it been?

CF: I don't know for sure. I don't remember that exact history. Late 60's, early 70's? And I came in 80.

JF: okay so a decent amount of time. Okay.

CF: yeah there were standards. I don't remember what they were but I had good grades so whatever they were. Yeah.

JF: So when you came to Oshkosh, did you live, when you said you came up here and got a job did you end up living on campus?

CF: Yes I did. Sorry about that (spilled soda).yes I did, I lived in Taylor Hall. When it was not remodeled. The old Taylor hall. And it was cinder block like, Donner is still that way I believe, right? Well it's still cinder block, but I mean the insides. No dry walling, no nice doors, and all that stuff and 16:00you can hear all your neighbors and we had frost literally built up inside the walls sometimes in the winter. There was no insulation, just cinder block.

JF: oh that's cold.

CF: Yeah and the windows and anyway, yes I lived in Taylor Hall and that was actually a lot of good memories, a lot, I'm glad I did that. That was the right thing to do even though I didn't want to spend the money living away from home even though I could have commuted. And I had a couple friends who did that, commuted and, but best thing I ever did. To grow up, to take care of myself. Not be under my parents thumbs anymore, and makes my own decisions and my own path and whatever, but yeah I actually met my husband in Taylor Hall too.

JF: Oh really? So I'm assuming you probably didn't know your roommate coming in?

CF: I didn't nope.

JF: so how did you guys get along?

CF: Oh wait I take that back. My first roommate I did know. So her and I worked together at the grocery store ironically and she was coming here for nursing. And was she, did she commute, I bet she commuted. I don't remember that if she 17:00went to UW Fond du Lac or if she was commuting. I think she was commuting. So we moved in together well we didn't get along so good, it didn't take long for working together at work apparently, is a lot different than living with someone. She was a year older than me and she just, we fought about silly things. Things like you brought those groceries but I wanted to have a taste, we shared some groceries and stuff, just silly things that turned into nightmare. And then one of the silliest things, that actually just put me over the edge, was um, I had a car and I volunteered to take some people from the floor grocery shopping and we came back and I parked in the 5 minute parking thing right in front of the hall where you can unload. And I forgot to move my car, which happens to everybody. You know you get distracted and you do something else. She decided I had brain cancer because of that and that is what was causing my memory loss. Nd was telling people on the floor. And I'm like what, what? So anyway during that semester I had also met a couple of girls down the hall that I long with really really well, and it just so happened that one of them, she actually got pregnant and she went home to marry her boyfriend and left, so I 18:00moved in with the roommate. And we lived together the rest of our time in college. We got along great. And when we moved off campus we moved into a house together with some other roommates that we brought in too. But yeah, we were great.

JF: Are you guys still in touch at all?

CF: you know sadly no, we were for the first few years, and she moved and didn't keep in touch at some point and I don't even know exactly why I think she wasn't really happy with her life at the moment. Which is too bad, that she didn't trust me enough to tell me that. But no, so now and then I'd get her address again and we'd be in touch again and then she drops off the radar screen again. Currently no. which is sad. It is because we did get along really well.

JF: So I noticed when you filled out the application that you were involved in quite a bit on campus including Taylor Hall gov and stuff like that, what all organizations were you?

CF: Most of my involvement was off campus actually.

JF: oh off campus okay.

CF: so yeah Taylor hall gov was what I did, and I did something with art, I can't remember what it was, some sort of art club that I did for a while, it 19:00wasn't very active, we didn't do a lot, I don't remember the name of it, that's how little it impacted me. I was very involved off campus in a local nonaffiliated youth group, called Young Life, I don't know if you've ever heard of it in your high school days? Or campus life?

JF: no, no I haven't.

CF: similar to that. So it's a city wide youth group for anybody to come to that's in high school. And I was leader, so I had been involved in that at my high school, campus life is what we had in Fond du Lac and Young Life is what Oshkosh had. So we'd have meetings every couple weeks and then all the leaders get together and plan what we're going to do for the next meeting and have an inspirational kind of message, you encourage the students to go back to their own churches and grow their own faiths they're own ways in their churches this is just a nondenominational way for kids to think about faith based ideas and things like that. I was very involved in that, spent a lot of time with that. Between that and working I had very little left, and Taylor hall government, I was just on little subcommittees and stuff, social committees and stuff, nothing 20:00terribly draining. But that took all my time that was actually a lot of time.

JF: and I saw you said your husband was on the gymnastics team, I don't know much about scoring gymnastics meets so what was that like?

CF: Yeah that's funny, they just need volunteers, to help essentially. So back in the day, I don't know if they do it this way anymore, electronic scoreboards probably make it a lot easier, but you literally sat down on the floor next to the judges at each mat, so they would have several events going on at once so there could be the floor mats and there could be the vault or there could be the rings, you know they usually had 2 or 3 things happening at once. And you sat next to the judges and they would show you their scores and then you would flip the little manual sign to show it to the audience, that's it. They call them flashers but I don't want to put flasher on there. Could have been concerning. It was awesome because you got to sit right in the front row, you know you have this front view and know everything right away, it was fun and it was just 21:00because they needed people. They always tapped into the girlfriends because we were just around.

JF: You were the ones that wanted to be there.

CF: yeah and we were. It was fun.

JF: So you said you met your husband in the dorms?

CF: Yeah in Taylor Hall.

JF: Did you guys have a mutual group of friends or did you just meet him?

CF: No a friend, I had met another friend who introduced us so it's kinda funny back then all the boys, the guys were on one wing and the girls were on the other wing, I don't think it's that way anymore.

JF: Some of the Scott's are like that where one half of the hall is girls, one half of the hall is guys.

CF: Yeah but back then Taylor hall was only connected on the first floor lobby so it was almost like two separate ones, just this one little entrance to get both ways and the basements were connected too. And they used to have little gatherings and they did this first floor girls and fourth floor guys for the heck of it, which is where my husband was living but the friend I had met was a gymnast on the third floor so he wasn't invited but he came just for a few 22:00minutes to introduce me to some of his other friends and we had met each other briefly somewhere else, but we lo had met mutual people. Anyway at this little social, my husband is very quiet and it's surprising that I even would have met him because he is so quiet, but we were sitting and chatting and they played music on a boom box, you know back then, and a jitterbug song came on and my sister and I loved to jitterbug. We learned in junior high school and we would jitterbug at all the weddings we went to and stuff. But almost nobody else knows how to do it you know. It's a swing dance, a swing dance. And Scott was next to me and this jitterbug sing came on and I asked do you know how to jitterbug? And goes "I do". And I was like "shut up" because nobody knows how. And he goes, I really do. And he says c'mon and I had some popcorn in my hand and he threw it on a napkin and he took my hand and took me to the dance floor. The little you know, cement basement floor area, and he starts whipping me around, he was a really good dancer, he could move really well. [Laughs]. It's a swing dance and 23:00he was a really good leader so I could follow but I was like oh my gosh what did I get myself into? And then he said, after that song was over, I know how to do flips, c'mon ill teach you. And he took me in the hallway and shows me how to do flips. And we went back and danced some more and everybody thought we were dating. Because it looked like we knew what we were doing.

JF: right then and there you guys are together.

CF: The next day everybody on the floor was asking questions and stuff and I was like no, we met last night. So no, [Laughs]. But that's how we got started talking, I mean had it not been for that connection I don't know if we would of, because he doesn't know how to make small talk, he's more introverted and stuff. So but we hit it off and he was in dance club as it turns out to be, dance club still exists, folk dance club. And we do German, and I joined dance club after we started dating. German and Russian and Polish and Semi-American and swing dance was all the flips and twists. We could do some pretty impressive stuff.

JF: Sounds dangerous [laugh].

CF: [laugh] yeah. Well him being a gymnast he was strong and balanced so it was easy for him, you know. So anyways that's that little story.

24:00

JF: So were you guys the same age?

CF: Were only a few months apart.

JF: Few months okay.

CF: yeah he was like 4 months older than me. Yeah same grade.

JF: okay was he here at Oshkosh the two years before you got here?

CF: the one year, I came after one year.

JF: Right right one year.

CF: yeah he was.

JF: We you involved in, like campus tends to hold different events like movies and stuff, did they used to do that and did you go to those?

CF: Yeah, yeah. We did, in fact our first date was one of those movies, our first real date because that wasn't really a date we just, yeah we went to one, they used to hold the movies up in that second floor Reeve room, like right in the front along Algoma Blvd. just a big flat floor and they'd pull in all these couches and stuff from the hallway, it was just a cluttery mess you know there was no theater. And they would just put it up on a big screen in the front of the room. Yeah it was pretty funny. But yes (unsure of movie title) I still remember it.

JF: Oh yeah that sounds like fun.

CF: one of those goofy old, set back in King Arthur days kind of movie, but yeah.

25:00

JF: So I, obviously you've changed your major throughout your college career, did you ever actually declare your major when you changed it or did or when did you declare what you're doing now?

CF: Well what I'm doing now doesn't have a major, advising. It doesn't have a major, you can major in anything and end up in advising, so I didn't even, I fell into advising. Because my first job was in admissions and I fell in love with higher ed. in general. I loved, because I valued my education and it was a really good thing I did and I was so happy I went, so I valued helping other people know how to get to college, you know. And promoting Oshkosh, I loved it here, I still do. I had a lot of good memories and it was a good fit for me. It wasn't too big, it wasn't too small, it was a good fit. It had a lot of opportunity but you weren't like pigeon holed into a little, like I didn't like my junior high experience. Separate groups of people and everybody, so I liked that. So I had declared art right away, stuck with and since I added the 26:00business minor so late, I was so far along in my art I couldn't give it up, so I finished it. I only had like 15 credits left or something and I decided I'm going to finish it. And so I just added on then and switched form the major to the minor, or from the minor to the major somewhere late junior year. When I started that minor I just loved it, I just really like logical thinking and it's kinda funny because I know those two things, art and don't really sound like they go together. And they are different but I like them both for different reasons I guess. I like the creative side of the art, I like the logical side, I like that fact in business I was in control of the outcome. Like if I worked hard enough I knew what the outcome was going to be, or you know, I just kind of like all that logic and stuff.

JF: It's kinda of balance and logic and numbers and math and its creative on the other side, I like that.

CF: Yeah.

JF: so I saw you mentioned something about Campus Crusade, was that anything to do with the youth group?

CF: You know it's like that at the college level. So it's the college level group and I think it still exists. Maybe they call it CRU now. It was on campus, yeah.

27:00

JF: Yeah that sounds familiar.

CF: Same kind of thing, nondenominational, a chance to come and learn faith based ideas I guess and they encourage you to go to a local church whatever that might be. I mean they do use the bible, it is a Christian based vs other bases, but yeah we went to that, mhmm. A couple conferences with that and stuff.

JF: so with all of your involvements with these different youth groups, I'm assuming that back at home your parents probably made you go to church a lot?

CF: Yup mhmm, we grew up Lutheran and yup we went all the time, yes.

JF: Was it ever like forced to go? Or did you really enjoy it?

CF: Um both, it was really the expectation that were going but I did enjoy it and it was part of who I was so I didn't even question it really. So yeah and we kinda did the same thing with our kids. Scott grew up Catholic so we ended up going to a nondenominational church as well we just decided that we didn't like enough about either one of those separately so we just decided to go to a bible 28:00teaching nondenominational church.

JF: We'll just meet in the middle.

CF: Yeah.

JF: So you said you had a really big class at Fond du Lac, do you by chance remember how big Oshkosh was at that time or how did it compare to your high school size?

CF: oh yeah it was at least 9,000, I mean it wasn't quite as big as it is now but it was a lot bigger, but I wasn't afraid probably because Fond du Lac was so big, yeah especially for that era. So yeah it didn't bother me, it didn't feel big. That's what I like about Oshkosh, it doesn't feel big, like its spread out over miles and miles, you know it's only a few blocks.

JF: yeah it's very concentrated.

CF: Yeah. Yeah.

JF: I like that too. This is kind of a broad question but what is your best memory of your college experience? Is there anything that sticks out at you?

CF: Some of the goofy things we did, because Scott was a gymnastic and the team was tight, I mean they spent all of their time together. We all were tight, you know. A lot of people that ended up marrying gymnasts were dating at the time and you know, so. [Rest of story excluded for privacy of interviewee].

30:0029:00

JF: so how big were your classes here? Did you take a lot of pit classes? I know you obviously took a lot of art classes.

CF: Right and that's just it, the art major was always small classes because studio classes had to be small, but art history was bigger, you know the art history ones, especially the beginning ones you take, they haven't changed, the same ones are still the requirement now. And yeah of course gen. eds. were pit classes themselves so I had a mixture of both. But the business classes were smaller once I got into the upper level business classes just like art.

JF: So did you interact with the students in your classes often and work together or?

CF: Yeah, art especially, you stay late working on projects all the time, people think this, this is kind of a misnomer, people think that art like art major is easier than a major like business, I can tell you I spent more hours working on 31:00my art work, a lot, a lot more than I ever did for my business. I worked a lot harder for those grades. Not that, I mean business took a lot of thinking and homework, but had an ending, but art work you're always working it more. Like it's not good enough and I can make it better and you know? So people don't understand, it does take a lot of work. Anyway, I forgot where we started with that question, but yes I studied with other people and yeah. A lot yeah, we got together and studied together and stuff.

JF: So, I'm assuming that with the art majors, since you guys took a lot of the same classes, you became really close?

CF: Yeah, yeah but there were different art majors too. There was a fairly big group of people, it's not just like 20, there's probably 150 majors, so it's not like you know everybody but one of my good friends from Fond du Lac was also an art major here. So her and I had a few classes together, a fair amount, but yeah one of the gymnasts was an art major too we still are good friends to this day.

JF: oh cool. What was your favorite class?

CF: Um that's a really good question, I haven't thought about that in years. 32:00Favorite class.

JF: Well if there's one in art and one in business, you can pick.

CF: Well you know it's kind of funny, because it really, a couple classes really impacted me, let's go with that, even though some of the art I really did like a lot and appreciate today like the, one of my art history teachers was awesome and I appreciate the things they helped me understand about the artists of the past and why they did what they did, but my sociology class, it was modern social problems really impacted me. Thinking about how we as a group, society, respond to situations and act in situations and that wasn't even either of my majors and I still didn't choose it but I just loved what I learned in there, it was super interesting. About you know, well how come at sporting events people get so stupid and start fights and all kinds of things. That was just one of the more lighter chapters, you know. But, and my economics, I really did love my economics class, which is probably what also steered me to go toward business. I 33:00just liked that it helped me understand the news and what's going on around me and you know, why prices are going up or down and things like that. I appreciated that and how much it helped me understand more about my society. So it really was my being econ, it really was a business class but those were really my I think more impactful classes than when I got into my major. I like the stuff I learned you know, I liked my advertising class and stuff but those I think made me think more differently.

JF: kind of like being well rounded and aware. I like that too, I like coming in and having like a broad education and then specializing is kinda nice, like knowing more than one thing.

CF: and having that bigger picture thinking, yeah.

JF: when you came to college was it similar to your preconceptions or was it really different than what you had imagined?

CF: I really didn't give it much thought frankly. I really didn't. I just fell into the whole thing and it just kinda happened. And the UW colleges are very small and it, to me, I loved Fond du Lac because it had 5 buildings so where 34:00like UW Fox Valley is just one big building so you feel like it's just a bigger high school and it's not even that much bigger than my high school. So Fond du Lac I liked better because it had these different buildings to walk to and it felt a little bit more like you were in a different environment than just a high school. But yeah I didn't really give it much thought. I mean I liked it, I liked it right away, immediately and I liked it when I came here right away. But I really, I guess they were what I thought.

JF: Was there a big transition from Fond du Lac to here? Or was that pretty easy for you do to step wise?

CF: it was, I didn't have a hard time. I loved it all, I was so looking forward to it and that's partly why I didn't have a hard time with it, I mean yeah it was a change but I've always been a planner, I looked ahead and knew what classes I need to take here, not everybody does that kinda thing, I always did that so I was really caught off guard and so it really wasn't hard for me, it really wasn't. What I do remember being hard is not knowing who to ask for anything in my personal life about college and just stumbling into it all. That 35:00I remember being hard. I didn't even know where to go, I just drove up to Fond du Lac, I didn't even know what building to go to or where to start.

JF: I'm just gonna figure this out!

CF: right right, no idea and the same thing when I came here. That I remember as a first generation nobody in your immediate realm you know of people going to college that was hard.

JF: How did your parents take it when you decided to go to college?

CF: They weren't happy.

JF: Really?

CF: Yeah they, "that's a waste of money, I can't believe you're going to spend that kind of money, well it's your money". My mom to preface this they would have probably tried to support me but my mom had been in the hospital for 6 months when I was in junior high school and they were still paying off the hospital bill way through my college years and on. The insurance ran out at some point in the first couple months and they owed thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and so they couldn't help. And I said okay that's fine, I don't want you to help this is something I want to do for me that's fine. But they thought it was a big waste of money and money was tight for them you know 36:00so they couldn't see. Later when my dad was job seeking he said now I see the value of your degree. And I tried to explain to him other things that I was learning there and how I was growing and maturing and they didn't really get that as much until later they could finally see some of that.

JF: At least they came around.

CF: they did, they did.

JF: did you guys stay in touch a lot when you came to Oshkosh?

CF: Yeah. Back then you didn't have cell phones so you had to pay on your phone plan so I only talked to them on Sunday afternoons when it cheap which was common for a lot of people, so we talked every Sunday afternoon. They came up now and then and would buy me groceries now and then and take me out for dinner and some of those things to try and help out. And you know, because we didn't live that far away.

JF: so did your sister go to college too?

CF: She didn't. And I think they saw the difference of what those doors opened for me and what she didn't have available to her.

JF: so I'm assuming at the time they influenced her not to go to college?

CF: I don't know, maybe. She loved visiting me and I tried talking her into going and I'd thought she'd go, she works for screen press, she always worked, 37:00she's very talented in art as well. She inherited that. And she always worked for printing companies, doing artwork for clients if they want this design or that design. And the last several years she's been at screen printing company in Fond du Lac that does all the t-shirts and the jackets and you know that stuff when people want that special orders and does the artwork for those. But it's an hourly waged job without much option of moving forward and so she's never really been able to get past a certain level of income and it's not a very high level. She got divorced early on in her life and so I think they see a difference. Those skills could have given her higher paying jobs. If she had done some of those things, different jobs.

JF: it's really interesting to like compare the two of you within only a few years and how different your lives are and like your opportunities are, I think that's very interesting to notice.

CF: Mhmm, mhmm. I'm not saying she's unhappy with her life you know.

38:00

JF: Right.

CF: But she recognizes the limitations and yeah. Yeah, yeah.

JF: I saw that you said that you tutored while you were here. What did you tutor?

CF: I did I did. Math, math. Ironically. Here's an art major tutoring college algebra, I loved math. I loved it growing up too. You know and I had the higher level math, but I quit before calculus in high school, which is unfortunate because I could have had that done. But anyway, I didn't, but yeah I tutored math ironically but so yeah. People thought art majors can't think like that, they don't have math skills, so anyway. Yeah I don't think I tutored anything else. I tutored for a while, back then only student support services only hired tutors, I don't know if you're familiar with student support services.

JF: Mhmm.

CF: if it's still on campus. They're a federally funded program, they have their own money for tutors. I may have tutored one other thing but yeah I didn't that for a couple years. You know, just a couple hours a week or whatever. I also had a graphic design job on campus after I quit the grocery store in Fond du Lac yeah I had branched out in different job up here.

39:00

JF: That sounds nice. I tutored for a while last year.

CF: did you? What did you tutor?

JF: I did geology. The intro geology course.

CF: Okay.

JF: it's kinda fun, to see come in who are like how do you get this?! And it's fun to help them out. I always liked that.

CF: Yeah, yeah. The hardest part I found for math especially a couple of my students that I tutored didn't understand the relevance of it. Why do I have to learn this? When am I ever going to use this? And that was hard to get them to see the value of it.

JF: Move pat that. Yeah people who don't get, or like math, tend to be like why, why do I need this?

CF: Right, right, yeah.

JF: you know you just do. Um so I see that you, after you graduated you started here within that same year? So no grad school or anything like that?

CF: Yeah, no.

JF: did you ever think about grad school?

CF: lately. I mean in the last 10 years. So when I started here, I mean you really didn't need a master's degree to get into higher ed at all. The norm was to come in with your bachelor's degree, not many people went and worked on it. But about 2 years after I started this job, I also had our first child. So we 40:00were already married. We got married senior year in college. So yeah we both went 5 years, him because of gymnastics and he was a double major in biology and chemistry so he had to be a decent number of credits too. But with gymnastics too you usually take a lighter load during your seasons and stuff. You kinda have to. So we got married fourth year and then a couple years later, I worked, two years and I quit at the end of the second year because that's when I had our child. Our first son. Um so you didn't need a master's degree at that time. And then I did do what I wanted to do, I stayed home when the kids were small. I choose to do that, I wanted to do that and I'm glad I did because they grow up really fast. So I'm really glad I had the time I did. I went back to work when our third child, our youngest was in first grade. So I still gave myself his kindergarten year to yeah get other projects done that weren't done yet and stuff. So anyway, then I got back in because they were looking for a part time advisor. So I was contracted with admissions, I was ¾ admissions and ¼ 41:00advising because they needed help during freshman orientation and transfer students throughout the semester coming in and things like that. So I got kinda lucky enough to have that extra exposure to advising and I loved it. I thought it was really fun, I loved it. Yeah and one of the reasons that I got hired in admissions was because of my art background too, he also had be doing a lot of the PR stuff, coordinating it with the art department on campus, all the brochures and stuff along with the other admissions activities he liked that I had the business and the art, sorry that was a side note. Anyway um so yes that was my first job and I did then work for a few other universities before I came back here where probably would have needed a masters by now, by then, we moved back here in '94, and I started this job in '99. That's when my youngest was in first grade. But they were looking for someone part time, they always, now 42:00always put master's degree preferred, bachelor's required, that's usually what it says, but you almost have no shot of getting hired without having a master's now a days, there's just so many candidates with master's degrees and experience but since this was only a half time job and probably not a lot of people applied for it but it was perfect for me, because I was happy to ease back in because I have 3 mall children and my husband travels for his job. So I'm a single parent kind of a lot so I was happy to only work part-time and I got promoted along the years, but I'm as far as I can get without my master's degree. So I'm the assistant director, I can't go on and so I looked at getting my master's 5 or 6 years ago but my daughter's already married and I already have a grandchild with another on the way and my time seemed too precious to be studying all the time and we don't get any reimbursement. None zero. So I'm thinking, I'm only like 10 years to retirement or 15, I mean whatever, not that far. You know 10 or 43:00whatever, I'm going to sink all this money into my master's degree because I had to go slowly because of course I'm going to keep my job. And by the time I finish it I might get a small raise, I might not, I might promote, I might not and so I might as well put all this money into my retirement fund instead and let it accrue instead of also the stress. Sometimes I second guess the decision but it's the decision I made at the time I made it and so I don't have my master's degree. Everybody else in here does. I'm the only one. So I mean I've been lucky that I was in the right place at the right time to get as far as I am because I really enjoy more of a leadership role, I would enjoy moving forward, but I'm okay with my choices. My family has always been important to me and I do really value the down time I have at home too so.

JF: So if you could go back would you change what you did and go get your master's right away or?

CF: Sooner for sure.

JF: Sooner.

CF: Yeah, so my husband went for his master's so he took a job too in a chemistry lab right after we graduated and he was there at the same time our son was born but his boss was wise enough to talk him into going for his master's 44:00degree. And at the time I was in a panic and I was like are you kidding we're just starting a family and you're going back to school, but it was a master's in paper chemistry and at that time the paper chemistry was housed at Lawrence University. They were a partnership and were masters and doctorate only but they shared some facilities with Lawrence. They've since moved to Georgia Tech which is really a better fit if that makes sense. But the paper industry paid for all your tuition, you only had to pay for your housing though in return they got free research and development from all these master's candidates. They agreed and signed off on anything the discovered that it went to the paper company that they were doing the work for so it was a great partnership and it allowed him to get his master's degree with very little debt but we still needed some of the loan money to live on and stuff, but so it was wise, it was the best thing he ever did.

JF: it seems like it worked out pretty well.

CF: Yeah it increased his job opportunity potential tremendously so it was the best thing to do. So yes I would have done it back in that range had I been able 45:00to look forward and know that I'd want it someday. That would have been the time to do it.

JF: so I see that you talk about not having a lot of influence from other people or you know direction on what to do is that what made you really like advising so you could help other people find their way?

CF: yeah I think so, yeah I think so. Yeah,

JF: Kind of like what you wish you had had. So you give other people the opportunity.

CF: Yeah, yeah and because I value education so much I want to help them get past the hurdles to finish it. You know because that was a big piece of advising, helping them when they're having trouble so they can work this out. Yeah, those were the reasons.

JF: So did your experience at Oshkosh influence your decision to work at Oshkosh?

CF: Um, yes for sure. For sure. And I can tell you why. So I had two part time jobs in Michigan, we lived in lower Michigan more closer to Detroit for 7 years 46:00when my husband first finished his master's degree and the mill he worked at in Port Huron, Michigan, the paper mill and there was a local college of business it was just a, it was called Detroit College of Business, so it was really more closer to a tech school really in the way they were set up but they had very specific programs you could take, but it was a credited college and then they got bought by Baker college which was very similar. So I worked for those two places and I was in recruiting and like admissions/advising combined because they're small and had those things combined. It was never as easy to promote those places as it was Oshkosh because you know, I loved Oshkosh. I have this little place in my heart that's just for Oshkosh. So I recognized that I was more of a salesman, I had a really think about what are the benefits here and how can I help you see the benefits. Where Oshkosh, it came naturally because I could say, I loved this about Oshkosh, I experienced this here and I can tell 47:00you that this is how it is.

JF: Personal ties definitely help.

CF: Yeah, yeah. It definitely was incentive to come back to Oshkosh.

JF: Um, so let's see, what it really different or the transition from being a student to working admissions was it really different like switching sides of it, becoming student to faculty?

CF: Eh, I don't know. Well I wasn't faculty, that would be academic staff were called academic staff. Um I was young, that was clear but in admissions, it's easy to be young because high school students kind of like that they're talking to someone who's not old and can relate to them. So um that wasn't hard, it might have been hard in a different role. But you're in contact all the time with high school students so I dint think it was hard. No, I really liked it.

JF: Well that's good.

CF: Yeah, yeah.

JF: did the policies of admissions change a lot from when you applied to when you were working there? Or even now?

48:00

CF: They, they changed over the years, all the time. Things changed. Now as far as the application not quite so much I don't think. I mean a little bit of course, every year, back then too they were trying to get their admissions requirement a little bit stricter, a little bit higher level. So we wouldn't have so many students unprepared and to leave quicker and not really be ready for it too. And so that has changed from the early 80's until now. I can't tell you exactly what they were anymore, that has been a long time but um I know they did. They upped it through the years but what has changed is what they accept for transfer credit and what they won't. And whether the grades count or don't count. And then for a while you brought transfer grades in and when I transferred here they didn't and I didn't get all my A's from Fond du Lac and I was mad they didn't count for my GPA and then they transferred in when I an admissions counselor for quite few years and all applied to your GPA and then the faculty made a decision that no, no we shouldn't be counting them from transfer institutions because they might not be as hard as we are or as rigorous and they quit counting them, which is what is in existence now so anybody who 49:00comes now, they get a clean start for better or worse. You know if you had good grades, you want those, but if you didn't, you're happy you get a clean start, so we're back to that. The pendulum seems to always swing, if you're hired long enough you see the, you know we went from B+'s and --'s to A/B's in the middle, when I came back to work here in early '99 now were back to +'s and --'s again. Philosophies change. Things just change.

JF: was it hard to keep track of things changing?

CF: Yeah especially as an advisor because each degree, the curriculum changes within the degree, they change curriculum all the time and make it more current and more what the employers are looking for and the College of Business does that a lot. They get feedback from employers, I can't speak to all other areas but yeah it's hard because a student has to graduate with requirements that were in their year or move forward to the newer ones so you have to keep in your head alright does it make sense for them to move forward? Should they? Ya know. Or are they better off with the curriculum that they started with?

50:00

JF: Sounds like a lot of thought goes into that.

CF: Mhmm and people that are younger they look to us who have been here a long time to help understand why it is this way. Because we sometimes know what lead up to that. You know, why a circumstance drove this policy change or whatever so it's kind of interesting. You don't think that much about it but we get sought after a lot.

JF: You know it's really interesting is a typically like people will go for a certain degree and that's what they pursue in their life and some of your degrees obviously have influenced your career but it seems more like your choice to come to Oshkosh more influenced your career than like any degree you pursued. I find that interesting.

CF: Oh yeah.

JF: you have quite a connection to campus.

CF: Yeah, yeah, it's not perfect but yeah it's a good place.

JF: seems like a good fit. Were there any particular professors that made an impact on you or?

CF: Yeah, my one econ professor I really liked a lot, I appreciated that fact that he already brought in relevant examples from current events and stuff like 51:00that, that made learning interesting you're relating it to what is happening in the world around you. Of course I'm going to draw a blank on his name now. I used to know it for years I can still picture him, Grundlow, Grundlow! Anyway and there were a couple other marketing folks that I liked their passion for their field. You know, that I liked. And I did like this art history teacher Wolf, I still remember him too. Ron Wolf. He just really loved art he was really, he explained so well why the artists were the way they were and why they represented things they represented. It was just so much more interesting than looking at a "Starry, starry Night", and he explained why Van Gogh did, was the Starry, starry night and stuff.

JF: and that sounds interesting actually to learn the why aspect instead of just the yeah.

CF: Memorizing name, date, place, yeah.

52:00

JF: So in your information you submitted you said something about creating the PALS program which is part of this advising center, what exactly does that entail?

CF: Well so about 10 years ago now or 11 years ago when we were still in Dempsey and we had a smaller rising staff for one thing and we only had 15 minute appointments with students because we didn't have enough advisors to have longer appointments than that. So we recognized that a lot of the students were waiting for appointments that could have got a quick answer from somebody else who was trained well enough to give that answer and at that time we also were trying to figure out okay how else can we use students to help us out and not have this just be that they need to wait and see an advisor. So I volunteered, I was still part-time, I volunteered to lead a committee to look into the possibilities of what peer advisors should do if we have them. And so a few other advisors, Liz, who is now our director was on that first group I think, I'm pretty sure and we brainstormed all different peer advising models and most of them are within a 53:00major. So like they have peer advising within a psych major, psych majors help advice other psych majors. Or business students help advise other business students that's what most of them were, and since our office is for everybody and is general we couldn't use that model because we wanted peer advisors to help everybody who came in our doors so we, I kind of picked and choose pieces that seems like a fit and created like you know just dreamed up what would this look like and I call our PALS generalists and we came up with the name PALS, peer advising liaison, yeah and it was really s that they could give information to students and they wouldn't have to wait to see an advisor for something small and could be directed right away. And they also can sit and help a student figure out their schedule for the semester if they haven't done that in time and they need to get it done and they're coming in here late in the game or whatever. So over the years it's really grown, which I'm really appreciative of. And they're funded by differential tuition and the first group we only asked for 54:00like 7 or something and it was about half of what we have now and half the funding we have now because the campus saw how helpful they were and they can appreciate that they didn't have to wait weeks to get into an advising appointment during peak week when we're booked out 2-3 weeks. Yeah and no one wants to wait for that if you don't have to. I mean this is like when you call your doctor and you call ahead and you wait to get in. but it's still no fun so sometimes the nurse triages with you and helps you get an answer to your question sooner. I tell them that all the time they're like our triage nurses here at the front. So it's been a roller coaster, it's been great over the years I've explored a lot of ways to make hiring better, to make training better. They go through 4 days of training before they start and I learned that I needed to include stuff about professionalism, how do you handle yourself when a student is irritated and angry, or parent. How do you deescalate the situation and you know 19 year olds don't think about that. And so over the years I've learned and grown a lot and I've got in the middle and really involved in our national 55:00organization. NACADAA -- national academic advising association and I was in the leadership role and got voted into it for peer advising little subgroup. And um I've had people all over the nation really, in fact international, one guy from India, from Dubai, contacted me to find out how to start programs, what kind of thing isn't working, what kind of things have I learned that I could share with him. And I don't care, I share everything. That's one thing in advising we're all here collegial and even across other campuses. We share, faculty is a little more protective of their work, because they publish and all that, but were open books, we share.

JF: That's awesome.

CF: So yeah. It's been good, it's been a nice little subset and the PALS themselves are the best. And the more that they're here the more I've tried purposely that they develop as leaders themselves and develop their own personal skills and that's what their all saying when they're graduating or when they're going to a job from here, going on to student teaching. I can't believe how much 56:00I learned at this job. This taught me so much that I never would have expected. I didn't have any patience at all when I got this job and I had to develop my patience. And stuff like that. And a couple said I am the person I am today because of this job, I came out of my shell and I would never be the person I am. Which is really it makes me feel good that I had a part in helping with that too.

JF: Yeah that sounds like a really good opportunity. Definitely beneficial.

CF: Yeah and I just fell into it,

JF: Um so I guess my final question for you would be how did your experience at UW Oshkosh prepare you for your life after college?

CF: Um, it absolutely helped me become independent and I always was somewhat, I'm not going to say that's not true, I always was somewhat, but um to feel comfortable making an argument and sticking with it or to think on my feet and to not have to second guess or um I matured a lot. And I broke away from, maybe 57:00not broke away's not the right word, my parents and I are still so close so that's not the right word but I broke out of feeling like I have to fit this mold that they had in mind for me. And that was good, I needed to do that. And once I moved out I never moved back, I just couldn't. I needed to be, my mom is very OCD and it made me crazy when I came home and she would have all these rules to follow and stuff so it prepared me. The education itself was secondary in my opinion it's all the stuff that your education gives to you. The maturity and the critical thinking and the confidence and those are the things that prepared me for life. The knowledge was fine, but the other stuff that you got out of all of that was better.

JF: Character building?

CF: Mhmm, mhmm.

JF: Well alright, that's all my questions unless you have anything you want to add?

CF: Nope I think we're good!

JF: Alright thank you!

58:00
Search This Transcript
Search Clear