Interview with Denise Roseland, 04/25/02018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Matthew Gill, Interviewer | uwocs_Denise_Roseland_04252018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

MG: To start off, I'm going to give like a brief introduction for the recording: my name is

Matthew Gill and today's date is April 25th 2018, and today I'm on the phone interviewing Denise Roseland for the campus stories oral history project. To start off, let's begin, Denise, by talking about your background a little bit so before college. So where did you grow up?

DR: I grew up in Central Wisconsin so I grew up in the Wausau area.

MG: Okay.

DR: I was an only child, and I don't even think I knew anybody who went to college before I got into high school.

MG: So your neighbors or friends, family, they did not go to college?

DR: Nope, not that I knew of at least.

MG: So what, I might be jumping too far ahead but like I guess what would be 1:00your incentive for going to college in the first place then?

DR: I think it's at the time and this would have been in the 80s of the 1980s and so I think at the time there was a lot of talk about jobs in the future requiring more education and-- and I knew that was true in the career areas I had an interest in. So. I think I felt like it was my only choice at that point.

MG: Ok, that's a good reason.

DR: Like. it was a requirement.

MG: Well let's come back to where you grew up I guess. What were your parents or your family members, the people who raised you like? What jobs did they do?

DR: Sure, my dad my dad was blind and so he was disabled. Before he lost his vision, because he had lost his vision, he worked in industrial sales and my mom 2:00worked in bookkeeping and eventually accounting. but she didn't have an accounting degree, she actually learned on the job.

MG: Did you come from a foreign past like do your family members have an origin at all?

DR: No, my family has many generations in Wisconsin for the most part. We can trace our family's origins back to Germany and Norway but that was many, many generations before my parents.

MG: Yeah that's pretty common for Wisconsin I think.

DR: Mhmm. Yup.

MG: Did your parents emphasize education at all like past high school?

DR: My mom wanted me to go on to school some. I don't, I don't know that if she 3:00was that supportive of about a four-year baccalaureate degree. I think she would have been satisfied if I'd gone to a technical or community college in an adjacent state. Like, Minnesota has a community college system or Illinois has a community college system. I think she would have been satisfied if I would have done that. I think my mom main concern was the cost of education, which is laughable now when you compare what we were paying in the 80s to what college costs now, but that was a concern to her about how that would get paid for. So I think that heavily influenced her advice or guidance at the time.

MG: That's interesting. What are the values that you think you learned from your family maybe as you got older that you realized that they were important that you learned?

DR: I know that my family has a strong work ethic and a lot of persistence and 4:00tenacity to stick with things even when they're hard. And even as a kid I even recognized the strength of those, or the power of, really embracing those values, those were important for me even as a kid and they still are. So, I think that has really propelled me through lots of challenges in life and is the way in which my family really valued persistence. I think the other side to that, though, was that recreation and leisure and fun almost felt like wrong, right? When you have a family with a strong work ethic and it's work, work, work, first and so that it's really something that I really struggled with when I was on my own when I was in college was making decisions for myself without the daily influence of my parents was how to balance that because there's lots 5:00of opportunity for both hard work and recreation when you get into a college campus. So that was probably my biggest struggle in the first, probably, year and a half.

MG: Yeah I agree that's probably a really hard thing to balance.

DR: And I think that true for a lot of people, right? How do you find that balance and make decisions for yourself.

MG: Do you think, well stemming from that, do you think that the fact that you father was blind may have influenced those values at all? Because--

DR: Yeah I definitely think so. My dad lost his sight as a young adult, so he had lived a decent portion of his life really able to see and enjoy a life, and then he lost it and then he had to relearn how to function, you know, how to find his way, literally how to find his way across the house you know to the corner to catch a bus because he could no longer drive, he lost a lot of

independence. And so that notion of persistence certainly came out of that era 6:00as he was learning I think to live life in a new way without eyesight. There was a lot of messaging in my house about 'I know it's hard, but just stick with it' and at the time it was really being directed at my dad and not so much at me. But it stuck, it's a message that stuck for sure 'I know it's hard but just stick with it,' 'I know it's hard but I'm sure you can do it, look at all the other things you have done that were harder.' So that was definitely very much a part of where that value of persistence came from.

MG: How about you community about the city you grew up in, do you think--

DR: I grew up really I say Wausau because it is the most recognizable, but I 7:00grew up in

Rothschild. I went to a public school. I was in the DC Everest school district and I went on later in life to a career in education, but, so I recognized that when I look back that I was really lucky to go to that school, be a member of that school district. The district had a commitment to really providing us a lot of opportunity to explore things. When I saw my cousins on family holidays, I had so many more choices in the classes I took and in the kinds of activities I can participate in and I really am grateful for that because I like a lot of things, I mean, I had a lot of interest and I

had a lot of interests I wanted to pursue, and I was really in a fertile environment to make that happen. Like, I really got to explore a lot of things while I was still even in middle school and then high school when my cousin's did not. They have pretty much straight subjects in school not a lot of clubs 8:00very few sports teams they were in smaller districts or in other places that just didn't have that same climate. And so that had its implications for me later, I mean I can say that it's looking back at it now but I got to rule out a bunch of things that I explored in middle school and high school that I didn't have to spend time exploring in college and already had it figured out. And so my path through UW Oshkosh was pretty fast.

MG: Yeah, it said you were only there for two years. You must've been a transfer student?

DR: I transferred in. I went for a semester and a half. I mean, I started three semesters to a center campus in my home town in Marathon County and then I transferred in. But I came in, and I even changed my major once I got to Oshkosh ,and I still made it out in four years, and I think it's because I could eliminate a lot of the distraction of exploration. And so I was probably 9:00unusual, north central Wisconsin is kind of conservative and in the end it's not a place I would expect a school district to make that kind of commitment to that kind of exploration. Another thing that I remember about the community growing up is that my friend's parents, it's as if they took the sense of parenting all of us. So if I was at one friend's house, the parents expectations for me were what my mom's expectations were and when friends were at my house, my mom was enforcing expectations of them that she knew their parents expected. There was this shared sense of community, where it takes all of us to guide these kids on their way. I have two step children now and they don't have that same experience. It's sometimes challenging for me to get to know their parents. It's just so very different.

10:00

MG: Yeah, I agree. So like let's go back to your education early on like elementary, what was, or we can fast forward to high school too. What kind of activities, clubs or organizations were you apart of in early education?

DR: Yeah in elementary school I don't remember how, how many options we had for it except maybe some after-school kind of sports things I don't think we even competed, I think we played each other. I don't think the enrollment at my school was big enough, there was just an A team, B team but I know I participated in sports.

MG: What sports were they?

DR: I loved volleyball, it was a great sport for me. I wasn't super tall but just tall enough. I ran track and field. And then I continued to do those in 11:00middle school and a little bit into high school. And then in high school I shifted from athletics and moved into some co-curriculars and more academically aligned clubs. So I was in, and I was on the yearbook staff, I wrote for the school newspaper, I was in choir, and Key Club I was the Key Club president of my high school so that's a community or civic organization. I can't even really probably remember them all at this point but National Honor Society, I was in Future Business Leaders of America, FBLA and DECA. And those were the two actually organizations that were really influential in my choice of my major and 12:00why I picked Oshkosh.

MG: Why did you pick Oshkosh?

DR: I picked Oshkosh because I could. I wasn't 100% sure if I was going to major in business with a minor in journalism or major in journalism with a minor in business. It was one of the schools in the UW system that would allow me to be in those programs. There weren't many journalism programs in the state as there were business programs. And it was really through some of the competitive activities I did, mostly in DECA, I think, that really got me to recognize that I had to - a like - I wouldn't say a love for, but a like for persuasive writing, and I had a real skill set for writing. So, that what sort of set me on the path on picking my school so to speak.

MG: So high school and the clubs that you joined influenced your journalism pursuits?

13:00

DR: Yes, yes, exactly. But I think when I enrolled in Oshkosh, I had declared business as my major. And of course, I got into accounting quickly and realized oh my god no way. And to top it off, I was really struggling with making decisions about how much to work and how much to play. So having those accounting classes, those made it difficult when I was struggling with that independence. That's really how I sealed the deal and fully enrolled as a journalism major. Before that I think I had only declared it as my minor.

MG: Okay, how about before, this is going back a little bit, but before high school, what were your like goals and aspirations then?

DR: You know, I think I knew fairly early in middle school that I had a skill 14:00set for writing, and I really enjoyed writing, too. And so I knew that I wanted to work in a career where I got to do writing. I don't know if I knew what that was, like I think the kinds of career advice, as much as my district gave me so many opportunities to explore a lot of interest, I wouldn't say that our career counseling was extraordinary. I mean, I think if somebody liked numbers they would be like 'Oh, you'd be a great accountant,' and if you liked writing they would be like 'oh, you'd be a great journalist,' right those are the only kind of directions they gave you. At some point I probably - I probably focused on the idea of journalism because I thought I was going to write for a newspaper. I can't really, I can't really track-- But I really wanted to write and I knew as 15:00much as I really appreciated growing up in the Wausau area, and the sorta community deal I had there I wanted to be in a bigger city. I definitely wanted to be in a bigger city. I had a lot of interest for things that were not available to me when I lived in Wausau. So, those were some of my goals, they were very simplistic and very naive I'll say that sure, but usually they are when you are twenty. Those were my primary goals was to find a job where there is a lot of writing and to move into a big city.

MG: Was anyone if your family or in your community you knew of journalist?

DR: No, nobody.

MG: So moving on to when you chose Oshkosh, what happened before you transferred?

DR: Sure. So going back to my mom's concerns about money, I agreed to spend at 16:00least one year going to the UW center so I could live at home. And keep my job, I had a good paying job in high school and I was saving a good amount of money for school and I had a car and could afford it myself. I didn't need help with those kind of things. I wasn't sure I'd be able to move into a college town and find a job that was going to pay as well and give me the kind of flexibility like the job that I had. So I agreed to stay at home and I ended up staying at home another half a year after that. So I went three semesters and then I transferred in the middle of the year to Oshkosh myself.

MG: what school was that again?

DR: I was at UW Center Marathon County.

MG: Ok.

DR: I took all my gen. ed kind of classes there. I mean, that's what those UW 17:00centers are for. So I was taking my college algebra one and two, I was taking my composition and I was taking a lit class and was taking some random science credits. I mean, I was trying to make them as easy to transfer into Oshkosh as possible. The centers were good at the time at giving you good advice about being mindful of what you were taking and how to transfer.

MG: So how was that transition? Like I know to transfer colleges is kind of like a long, lengthy, and kind of an annoying process. Was it difficult for you?

DR: It was, you know, I remember, well what I remember is, I remember, because I had come out of a school district where I continuously had lots of choices, and interesting things to explore, I remember feeling really confined in what 18:00courses I could take when I was at the UW Center. Not because they had limited offerings, they had pretty robust offerings, but I had to be mindful of what would transfer. And it was baffling to me that it was a UW system school, and I was going to a UW college - why was it co complicated, why can't it just be simple? It's all one system and the credits should move around but they didn't. So I do remember every time it came to registering for classes, feeling a little bit constrained. But it wasn't unbearable I had plenty of choices. But I remember there were thing where I was like 'oh I wish I could've taken that.' There was no - it wasn't something where the courses wouldn't transfer and categories specifically that I wanted to transfer. It would transfer the credit, but I wasn't worried about filling my schedule at Oshkosh with my electives. I knew I had plenty to choose from I wanted to get my gen ed and core required 19:00courses out of the way.

MG: And now the only reason why I ask that is because that whole transfer thing is because I went in this newspaper archive, and I saw in the ​Advance Titan​ they published an article where they interviewed you about the transfer student at UW Oshkosh. and I thought that was interesting.

DR: That is interesting. I didn't even remember being interviewed for, but you know, who knows. Yeah I do, you know I don't remember a lot about it, I don't think I really lost any credits so to speak, I do remember there was a lot of work, and I actually showed up on campus and I

wasn't sure what dorm I was assigned to yet. Communication was tight. especially when you are transferring in the middle of the year. like systems are set up to do all that communication and all that work at the beginning of the school year. This is before the time of emails, so this was when they would still send letters, you know, paper letters through the mail, so. I may have gotten my dorm 20:00assignment after I, you know, after I actually showed up to the Oshkosh campus. But I do - there's a certain amount of uncertainty about - you show up on campus, and I don't even know where to go. I know I must have a dorm assignment somewhere because I know I'm enrolled. So, yeah I show up on a snowy day in January in a blizzard, and I go to the ResLife office and they are like "Oh, you are in Fletcher Hall, here's your roommate, here's your room number, here's your hall directors name, here's his phone number, he's there." But actually when I rolled into town I had no idea. Yeah, and I think it's just the nature of communication at the time, like email now is so fast, somebody would assign it and the system would send it and that would be the end.

MG: So your roommate, how did you like that?

21:00

DR: We were totally randomly assigned. She had a different roommate that had moved into a different room, and she was hoping she was going to get a single room because it was not unusual in Fletcher because Fetcher, at the time, was the upperclassmen dorm and juniors and seniors lived there. But you might end up in a single room that you were paying for because your roommate moved out or graduated end of term or whatever. So she was a little disappointed to get a roommate but as it turns out, she is currently my best friend in the United States-- We graduated thirty years ago, and she's my best friend, we remain dear friends, she is like a sister to me, but she moved out of the room after we were assigned roommates because she didn't want to live with somebody she didn't know. And then we ended up rooming together early the next year and then we say the rest is history. But in that time after she had moved out I had a number of 22:00randomly assigned roommates who were shuffling around because of disagreements of her meds and that was challenging for me I mean, I was an only child, I never had to live with anybody but my parents so that was tough. I think one of the hardest adjustments for me aside from the decision-making about balancing work and play.

MG: How did you reconnect with your roommate though? Because she moved out and then--

DR: She moved out but she only lived three doors down.

MG: Oh ok.

DR: So we would see each other on the way to the bathrooms or whatever, and then when the hall or the floor was having activities we would get together, and so we stayed friends. And then we realized by the time we got to the end of that spring semester, it was time to you know indicate if you were living in the dorms again or moving off campus late in the spring term. We really enjoyed each 23:00other's company, and we might make good roommates so we became roommates in the following year.

MG: That's cool that you got a lifelong friend out of it.

DR: Right. Yeah I can honestly say I mean, I don't have a lot of friendships built from my days in college but she's definitely one of them.

MG: So moving on then, what did you know about UWO before you attended? Like was there any stigma about this school?

DR: I knew that the nickname was UW Zero, I'd have to say that. But from my experience the kids who had graduated the year or two before me chose Oshkosh and they were relatively good, you know, they were relatively good students. A number of them were student athletes and they chose that because they were playing on the Oshkosh teams. So, I don't think I put a lot of stock in that, 24:00that didn't bother me that didn't trip me up at all. But I certainly knew it had some stigma in the system.

MG: Do you remember anything special about your first few weeks while attending UW Oshkosh?

DR: Well, I think it's important to know a couple of things. I was, I turned eighteen when I was a senior and in Wisconsin the drinking age was eighteen. And, so then right about the time I was about to turn nineteen they were changing the drinking age. And the first time it changed it went from eighteen to nineteen then it went from nineteen to twenty-one. But I got grandfathered in the whole time, so I showed up at Oshkosh, even though the drinking age was at the time nineteen, I was legal to drink. And so my memorable experiences were 25:00going out to a couple of the bars close to campus and, yeah, because I was a nineteen year old right. The other thing I remember is how overwhelming it was trying to find my way class to class, building to building and how little I knew about how to plan my schedule. So, I just didn't have a lot of capacity for self-reflection at that age, and I'm happy to get up early, and I do way better in early classes, but what happened my first, I mean when I transferred in the middle of the year, I was probably late to register, everybody had been enrolled in school since the beginning of the school year and was registered already. And I ended up with a lot of middle of the day classes and at that point, by the time my 10:20 class was starting, so I generally wake up early, I had gotten into all kinds of other activities, and I didn't want to leave them to go to 26:00class. So, I had a hard time getting up for class my first semester. In part because I think that my schedule was not designed to be a good fit for me and sorta my natural working but I didn't, you know, I just didn't know what I didn't know and that's all I can say. I didn't know, I mean later when I went to register for later years I

loved night classes. I only had to go once a week and I went for three hours and I had that kind of persistence to do it, and I loved early morning classes and I liked to be free in the middle of the day, I didn't like middle of the day classes very much. Or if I was gonna have a middle of the day class I better have a morning class the same day so I just went from one to the other. So really sort of finding one that worked for me to keep me engaged in going to class. So I didn't love sitting in class, there's no other way to say it.

MG: Do you think that affected your grades at all?

27:00

DR: Oh definitely! Oh my gosh. One day I remember really having to talk myself into going to a class that I was going to, and I show up and it's the midterm. Like, I had spaced that it was the midterm, no recall so I know I failed the midterm so I got a pretty low grade in the class, but I haven't even paid attention to what the syllabus said that it was the midterm. but I almost, I was not making, I was not using good, I would say right now I was not using good executive functioning skills to make good decisions, but I think it's in that transition to independence I was just really having a hard time finding my way for a while. And no criticism to UW Oshkosh and the systems and the supports that are provided there because I think if, like now there's advisors and all kinds of stuff that is going on I probably would have still had the same 28:00struggles even with those systems. I think it was just really in my own personal, trying to define my own personal values and making decisions in alignment with I think that's what was what was really going on.

MG: A lot of students, I think, struggle with that their first year.

DR: Yeah, yup.

MG: Let's just talk about your like first few classes.

DR: Sure.

MG: You already took your gen. eds at a different school. What were the classes you took then?

DR: I took most of them, I think, at UW Marathon Center so. So, I really got to jump right into classes in the major. I was taking, like, the Intro to Journalism class, and I was taking a couple of business classes. I was excited to get to a four year college where you had subjects, like I think I took a Women's Studies class, you know, I was just excited to have that kind of depth of content available and so I think I took eighteen credits my first semester 29:00which was part of the reason I was out of there in two and a half years. I took pretty heavy credit loads most semesters. So I took sixteen to eighteen credits and, I like the variety that I mean that was really, that's what I remember. When I got on to a college campus and I got that full menu of all those different things I could take courses in, I really liked the variety of subjects I could dabble in, because at that point I was still kind of dabbling.

MG: What was, I guess, your favorite courses that you remember? Was there any courses you loved in particular?

DR: Yeah, yeah I definitely - I know that none of the faculty that are in the 30:00program anymore in journalism are still there, but I absolutely loved all of my PR classes. So, at the time it was Intro to Public Relations, a couple of other ones. I loved a couple of the news and editorial kinds of classes that I took. I didn't love when they had us working more with the advertising for a couple of reasons, but they didn't resonate with me nearly as much and really I think in that second semester of my sophomore year, I took Intro to PR perhaps also and it quickly sort of woke me up, and I don't know, a notice posted on the board somewhere I noticed in the newspaper, I mean in the school newspaper, something that the University PR office was looking for an intern, so I applied for it. 31:00So, the next school year I was working in the UW Oshkosh Public Relations Office with the guy who ran PR for the University, and he mostly has to approve, I think, it was him and one other person and a photographer, and the rest of it was really student-generated. And so that was really exhilarating, I mean, to have the chance to write press releases and respond to media inquiries in the university. I just remember that being a really powerful experience for me, and I really, it was probably one of my favorite career related opportunities I had with the journalism program. And I had a bunch of them, I think, I worked four internships while I was in the in the program.

MG: Is that how you got involved with like the club the public relations, PRSSA?

DR: Yes, that's how I got involved with the club.

32:00

MG: Would you say that those experiences help you make career decisions in your future?

DR: Yeah, I definitely know that. I did that internship with the UW Oshkosh Public Relations Office then I went and did a summer internship at the Marshfield News-Herald, so I worked as a staff reporter for a newspaper. I did another public relations internship with a nonprofit in the Fox Valley somewhere I don't remember. So I have those three for sure, at the time that I started looking for work in my senior year, and I know that having those related experiences on my resume really got me in an invitation to interview. It didn't always help me get the job. I didn't always have the right skillset from those 33:00experiences for the jobs I was applying for, but it definitely got me an interview. And in the in the late 80s, there were not, we were still primarily generating contents through print media or televised media or radio media, and there was not the web, you know, there was not the web presence where you could be generating content in a million different ways and whatever. So, I was still in very traditional very formal channels looking for work, and it was really competitive and there weren't that many openings. So to have those experiences at least put me in the invitation to interview pile but was really beneficial.

MG: Did you form anyway special relationships with any professors at all that you remember?

DR: You know, I remember Harvey Jacobson was the professor of a lot of the PR courses, and I - probably 10 or 12 years even after I graduated from Oshkosh, I 34:00still occasionally had a correspondence with him, and I think when I was considering grad school at one point probably 6 or 8 years after I finished at Whitewater, he wrote a letter of recommendation for me. And then Gary Kohl, who was the head of the program, when I was there, the chair of the department when I was there, I had a class with him and he was always very supportive of students and really knew the students in the program even though he wasn't actively teaching that many sections as the department chair so certainly those two gentlemen, I felt really, encouraged me to go after opportunities and were really very supportive of my pursuit even long after I left UW Oshkosh.

MG: Well ok, before you told me that in the beginning it was kind of hard to 35:00adjust to being a student I guess, but what kind of student were you after that?

DR: Well, ok. My grade point at Oshkosh was not stellar. I mean, I did ok. I was around a 3.0 at Oshkosh, which for me I had come out of high school and middle school and I had pretty much been a straight A student. And I didn't, I didn't have to work hard at it in middle school and high school, and I got to college and it was definitely more rigorous, and I don't think I was prepared for that. Not - not that I didn't have the capacity for it, but emotionally I wasn't prepared to work that hard and prioritize that kind of work. So, but in my major I always had much better grades. It was always in my electives and other gen eds that my grades were mediocre, probably C's. So I'd get A's in the major and season everything else until I ended up with something close to a 3.1. So after that, and I went on to school two additional times after I left Oshkosh, I got 36:00my Master's degree from UW Whitewater, and then I got my PhD from the University of Minnesota, and in both of those I was a 3.9 student. I was entering education at a different age in life and I was ready to do work, I think that was, that's what it was for me. So I was ready to sort of Step into the rigor that was required.

MG: Where, where did you spend most of your time on campus outside of like academics? I

guess.

DR: Sure, you know I spent quite a bit of time hanging out with the friends that I had, and one of them was really involved in the Reeve Union Board so we'd hang out at the union while she was doing board stuff. And then my roommate was Michelle, and she worked for the Department of Residence Life, and then 37:00eventually I started working in Gruenhagen, in the conference center, so the part where people rent rooms in Gruenhagen hall. So we spent a lot of time hanging out in that ridiculous building, so Gruenhagen. And in the offices of Reslife and then eventually I went on to work at the Department of Residence Life as well. Quite a few student workers in there working on various projects and, you know, filing and who knows whatever else we were doing at the time but - so in my time outside of class, when I was on campus I was probably over in Gruenhagen hall or in the union. And then if I wasn't on campus, I don't know, I mean we mostly stick around the campus area so we are hanging out in the restaurants or the bars adjacent to campus most of the time. And I remember 38:00going to Leon's frequently in spring.

MG: The ice cream place?

DR: But it's not Leon's is it? Leon's is in Milwaukee but it is the frozen custard place out on the, I don't know the edge of town close to 41? Yeah.

MG: Oh yeah I'm pretty sure that's Leon's.

DR: Is it Leon's? I just don't remember the name of it. Yeah so we would jump on bikes and head over there a few times.

MG: Going back to, ok, let's talk about how when you were in school, the drinking age was shifting. Do you remember any maybe like, riots? By chance, or like any situations with angry students because of them not being able to 39:00participate in certain activities maybe.

DR: Well, I'll tell you what I remember is that it was not by accident that spring break was always over Saint Patrick's day when I was at Oshkosh. That's what I do - that's what I do remember and, and I do know that there were often issues by the other high-rise Scott Hall in the square area, that grassy area, where students were trying to bring alcohol into the dorms, and we couldn't have it in the dorms anymore at the time. So, I don't - I'm sure it happened, I'm sure there was all kinds of rioting and protesting whatever I'm not sure that I was that turned into it. I do know generally Friday and Saturday nights were noisy particularly on that side of campus by Scott hall. I know most of it was 40:00alcohol-related, so.

MG: Going back to your personal life like on campus, did you go home much?

DR: You know, maybe three or four times a semester, but probably not more than that because I worked, I always worked all the way through school. So if I wasn't working in something at the university, that I found a job in town somewhere. At one point I worked in a department store in the mall downtown, and another time I worked in a grocery store. So I always worked until it was hard to get time to go home if I was working especially, off campus jobs. On campus jobs a lot of them Monday through Friday or evening, so it was easier to take a weekend and go home. And I had a car on campus. It was easy, you know, because I 41:00just threw my things in my car and I didn't have to worry about transportation to get home.

MG: I guess we can about like your dorm life a little bit more. How did you like it? You stayed in dorms the whole time?

DR: No, my senior year I lived in apartment. That first semester that I transferred in the middle of the year and then my entire junior year I lived in the dorms, and I actually would have done it my senior year but there was some uncertainty of if my roommate - Michelle who was randomly assigned roommate moved out and then we ended up rooming together voluntarily - there was some uncertainty whether she was going to stay on campus, and I didn't want another 42:00randomly assigned roommate. At that point I wanted somebody I knew. So there was another girl in the journalism program that I got along well with, and we found an apartment, so I lived off campus that year.

But I loved living in the dorms for a lot of reasons. I think I did not have much of a choice of what dorm I was placed in when I transferred the middle of the year, but I think I'm glad, given my challenges with self-managing and making choices, but I spent my time - I'm glad that I ended up in Fletcher because it was not a crazy party dorm. The students were all generally in their junior and senior year, and they were a little bit more settled into the routine of being a college student. And so that was really - that was really beneficial to me. Like I could recognize the difference between their approach and my approach. And if I gave it some thought, I could certainly make different 43:00choices for myself. What I loved at the time is that we had quite a bit of flexibility for making the room our own, so Michelle and I had a pretty crazy dorm room and we even got featured in a Reslife publication. She had this amazing bunk bed and we totally transformed the room. One of the Reslife photographers was there taking pictures of, you know, how we sorta tricked out our room at the time, and I certainly appreciated that. What I also really, later on route to really love about my time in the dorm is I was all of a sudden living with and around people from all over the place and growing up in Wausau it's pretty insular, right, like it's the same kids I went to school with however many years and their families and our families were all kind of the same. And so all of a sudden I was in a dorm with kids that grew up in the Chicago area and kids were different race or ethnicities, people who follow 44:00different religions or spiritual practices, and it was a really, it was a very powerful and eye opening period of time for me.

MG: So that kind of like introduced you to like that big city life that you always wanted when you were younger.

DR: Right. With more diversity and you know whatever. You know, and it's not like, I wouldn't have necessarily had that same experience in classes, but it's different when it's in your residential contacts right, like I wouldn't have known as much about most of the people in my classes, I knew the things I learned about the people in my dorm because we're all living in that space and walking down the hall to the showers together, and, you know, whatever somebody was working with their door open and you'd stop and chat. And I mean, I think that period of time really influenced my desire to work in diverse environments, 45:00and my desire to really expand my own understanding and awareness of different cultures and backgrounds, and it was pretty influential really in what really prepared me to become a teacher. At one point, when I went back and got my Master's teaching license, I taught in very diverse schools. It was that early experience in the dorms that really - that was really very informative.

MG: So--

DR: I also was frustrated with door lockings and curfews and whatever happened with living in the dorms because of course you're nineteen and you think you know everything. But - but I appreciated that, and as I look at my own step kids getting older and sending them off to, I'm appreciative of the structure and the safety and security that those kind of policies put in place for kids who may be 46:00making similar crappy decisions like the ones made by me.

MG: So how old are your step kids?

DR: Ten and twelve. The twelve year old is already in her district, off doing college visits literally to sorta build that aspiration that, to see that potential.

MG: So let's go back to your clubs and maybe organizations that you were a part of. What were the other ones besides your public relations?

DR: There was a clipper advertising, I don't even remember what it's called I think it had Greek letters to it, but maybe it was p-r-s, p-r-s-s-a that had 47:00that. I think the college had a chapter of Women in Communications. The college chapter the time so I was in that. And that hooked us up with the professional Women in Communications chapters, and as I went to some events in Milwaukee and Chicago, from the professional women communications chapter. Other than that I don't remember working. I know I was in those clubs and organizations relate to the nature.

MG: Were you involved in most student activities on campus would you say?

DR: I did some sporting events and I did some events at the union. My roommate, Michelle, was a graphic design major, so I did some stuff over in the art building when she and her classmates were doing exhibits or whatever. So, I think I dabbled in some things, I don't think I was - I was not the kind of person that went to every football game or whatever the case was, baseball game 48:00or whatever but I would occasionally go.

MG: Do you remember any social issues or political issues that had been on campus while you attended?

DR: Yeah, I'm sure there were but I don't really have much recall of them. The 80s, that would have been like Reagan era, I'm sure there were issues.

MG: So, I guess we can move on to like what were your impressions of Oshkosh maybe while you were attending or after you were attending?

DR: You know I'll just say this. I remember when I was - I came for a campus visit, I was coming to register because you had to register in person at the 49:00time, and I knew I was transferring mid-year, so this would've been fall, late fall sometime. And I remember driving in, and I remember - I remember thinking like, "Wow, all the names of the stores are different here" right? So I lived in Wausau since I was in first grade. And so like the grocery stores, they were different grocery stores and the names of the grocery stores I felt like I had so much to learn, right? I remember feeling a little bit of a sense of overwhelming, right, like oh my god, I don't even know where to get gas in my car, just silly stuff like that. So I definitely - my campus visit in that fall before I transferred was the first one where I'm like 'oh, I don't know,' right, because at that point you're still in that teenage mindset, and I really 50:00understood that I had a whole lot that I was about to embark on in learning. So - and then the other thing that kind of plagued me about Oshkosh, is it was clearly still a city that has still not redefined itself. Oshkosh had very much been kind of a factory city for a long time in the Wisconsin economy. I don't think that even having that big beautiful lake and stuff like that that they had really figured out what Oshkosh was going to be, in the EAA, the flying. That was striking. I mean that was striking too, and unemployment was high, economy wasn't great necessarily while I was in college. But what I did really 51:00appreciate is that it was a small enough town that I didn't have to feel totally lost in. If I had gone to a big city, or in a much bigger town, my - my year of getting - sort of getting my feet underneath me and making the decisions, I would have probably had much more serious consequences. But in a smaller town, it sorta kept me a little bit isolated, protected, and probably prevented some stuff that would have been much harder to work through, so I do appreciate that, going to a college in a smaller town. And the other thing I appreciate about Oshkosh was its proximity to getting to other places I wanted to explore, so it was close enough that it wasn't hard to go to Milwaukee for a day or for the weekend, and close enough I could get up and go to Appleton, which was booming and growing and expanding. And I had the opportunity to do internships up in 52:00Neenah, Menasha, Appleton. So the proximity that they were close to other places.

MG: So I guess, overall how did your experience at UWO, like, what did you learn that maybe you took in your future?

DR: You know, I think that if I could sum up, like, my entire baccalaureate days experience in one thing it's like no mistake is the end right, there's like no fatal mistake. So I made a boat load of mistakes, and I've made a lot of lousy choices in my time at Oshkosh because I was young, and I was learning to independently think and make decisions for myself. And none of them were fatal, like none of them cost me opportunities to do other things later on in my life. 53:00And so my partner - and I say this to our partner all the time like 'Yeah, keep going and feel miserable because you're going to learn something from it,' and it's going to prepare you for something else you're going to do later on, and I think that's really the - what I got out of my experience at Oshkosh. And then the other thing that I want to say, and it's very specific to the people who worked for the university of the time that I was there. There were a lot of amazingly committed and kind-hearted adults who were really pulling for you. Even if you didn't know yourself, what you were, what you were working towards, they were just really in your camp because they saw your potential, and they knew your skill set, and so particular the staff of the Department of Residence Life when I worked there were very influential in my career, and the faculty in the journalism program. I had just really, I can't say enough of the caliber and the commitment to me really showed to me and my work and really to my future.

54:00

MG: So how did you feel when you finished college then? What did you want to do?

DR: I was -- I - you know, honestly I don't know if I left much clearer than when I arrived. I knew I wanted to write and I knew I wanted to move to a bigger city. And unfortunately, I did not find a job directly in advertising, public relations, Journalism. My first job got me to Milwaukee and I worked in sales and marketing, and I was miserable and failed, and so I quickly - and then a company transfer me to Minneapolis-Saint Paul that I was working for. And when I got to Minneapolis-Saint Paul, then I started working in more marketing oriented positions that were a better fit with my skills and out of my degree program. 55:00Yeah, it was my first couple of jobs out of college I didn't stick with a very long, I was in and out very quickly. (dogs barking) I work from home, by the way, so that's my vicious watchdog in your recording.

MG: What kind of dog is it?

DR: He's some mutt, catahoula, boxer, and pitbull. His legs look like they are four feet long, boxer legs so. Anyways, so I think we were talking about after I left Oshkosh. I left having really good feelings about the time I spent there and the friends I made there and the experiences I had there, and I don't think that ever changed. It really - so much of that is built on relationships, it 56:00could have - professors anywhere had content knowledge, maybe. The professors I had - but what I - what they did is they really fostered positive relationships with us. Caring relationships with us. Whenever they challenged us in ways that helped us reach-- That was really a very valuable experience at that age of my life. And the same thing was true really of the folks that I work for in ResLife. They weren't grading my papers and they didn't know my work, but they saw my aptitude or my capacity in the tasks they assigned me to do at ResLife. A number of them helped me align interviews, and one was even helping me try to find a place to live because I had no idea how to look for an apartment. That willingness to step in and help on a personal level, more than what would be 57:00expected in the jobs for the university. That is what I forever took away from Oshkosh, and it really influenced the way that I was when I was a teacher, then, like if these adults were willing to step in for me and go to bat for me and all kinds of other things other than just the work I was doing in class, and that made me feel good that I could do that for my students. It really formed my perception of my ability to have an impact on other people.

MG: So would you - since you left Oshkosh, have you had any involvement with the campus at all?

DR: You know, I haven't had much involvement in the campus. I kept in touch with a couple of the journalism faculty for a while and so I think I came back for a couple of alumni things. I may have been on a panel discussion and alumni panel discussion, at one point, program. I came back for homecoming a time or two, but 58:00I haven't been super involved in much. I don't even know if I've ever been a member of the Alumni Association. Maybe two times.

MG: Well, you're doing this so.

DR: Right. I've certainly answered surveys a bunch of times.

MG: So, I guess since we are approaching an hour, I guess to wrap this up, what advice would you give to current students?

DR: That's a good one. You know I think that the advice I would, that I would give is be open to changing course. And so you, a lot of times students will 59:00devise a plan, right, and then an obstacle will pop up, and they think it's the end. And generally, that's never the case for me, if I met an obstacle, and I couldn't get over it, through it, or around it, I got that obstacle for a reason because I needed to learn something from it. To prepare me for something that came along and so. So yeah, I had to change directions lots of times. But every one of those times, while they were frustrating at the time, that change of course was very beneficial to me, and I think, really, better prepared me for some of the opportunities that I have had. And really prepared me to help when I was a teacher, to help my students navigate challenge. Because if you can't navigate challenge, you can't help other people navigate it either. So, be open to the fact that you are going to change directions and change your major, and 60:00you know whatever you're going to make a ton of changes. Don't get too set in a plan.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear