Interview with Gretchen Herrmann, 12/06/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Carly Amadon, Interviewer | uwocs_Gretchen_Herrmann_12062016.mp4
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


CA: Alright, my name is Carly Amadon and were here today with Gretchen Hermann. She was a student at UW Oshkosh from 1980 to 1986. So, Gretchen why don't you start by telling us a little bit about where you grew up.

GH: I grew up in Kenosha, in Wisconsin, and I lived there through the start of college because I went to school originally at UW Parkside before I came to Oshkosh.

CA: So, you always lived in Kenosha? You never moved around?

GH: Nope

CA: Did you more around at all in Kenosha?

GH: no, we had 10 kids, I was 9th of ten kids

CA: oh wow

GH: We had one house that we stayed in and we didn't move because it would've been too hard

CA: Were your parents from here too?

GH: My parents were from Kenosha, and yeah they actually had 14 children and raised 10, 4 died at birth

CA: Oh wow

GH: Yeah… so I was 9th of 10

CA: That's a lot of kids


GH: Yeah a lot of cousins in that area too

CA: Yeah I can imagine, so you always lived in one place, did that teach you anything in specific?

GH: It gave me a sense of home, a settled feeling, a sense of community, and after college I moved to Florida for a bit and at that point I realized what home and community was all about

CA: So when you moved to Florida did you miss home?

GH: Yep.

CA: So when you came up to Oshkosh, you were obviously away from Kenosha, when you returned home did you go back home to Kenosha? Your parents didn't move at all?

GH: This what was unique about my college story

CA: Okay

GH: My mom died when I was 16

CA: Okay

GH: And when I was 18, and a student at UW Parkside in Kenosha my dad was diagnosed with cancer, terminal cancer, and so through my college time, my 2:00college years, he had cancer and he died shortly after I graduated. So I went from UW Parkside to Oshkosh back home when he was sicker came back here again so

CA: So you said you left school for a little, is that the circumstances that you left for

GH: I didn't, I continued to go to school the whole time

CA: Okay

GH: But I just switched schools back and forth a few times

CA: So, going back to your parents, when you were growing up, what types of work did they do?

GH: My mom raised 10 kids, she did a lot of housework and she called herself a homemaker and not a housewife because she said she was not married to her house which she did feel like she did a lot with her kids and she did, my dad was self-employed he was a carpenter, so, yeah as was his dad and his family.

CA: What kinds of values were you taught when you were growing up?


GH: Honesty, integrity, I remember my mom always saying that your name, you know you can't tarnish your name because it's all you have and once you are dishonest that is a mark you know against who you are and that will be remembered forever and that made a big impact on me. They were very hard workers, some of the things my mom would say, she didn't name any of her kids stupid because you know we would be fighting and call each other you know, you stupid idiot [unclear] no she was very strong on encouraging each of us to be who we were and I would say that's probably it. 2 wrongs don't make a right was another thing that they taught us as far as retaliation you know I think integrity doing the right thing in the first place and then


CA: My parents say that all the time, 2 wrongs don't make a right

GH: I know, my mom must've said it 85 times a day

CA: And now, do you have children of your own?

GH: Yep I have 2 kids

CA: Do you think that you impart these same values in them?

GH: Absolutely, yes. I think when, when I think back, where I think my mom, her most thing said was 2 wrongs don't make a right I think I've said to my kids more than anything, do the right thing.

CA: What would you say the biggest lesson is that you could teach your children, is it that?

GH: I think the biggest lesson I can teach my kids is something that I brought into my own business years ago and especially I see it more valuable all the time is that I think the world is getting very cold and cruel and I tell my kids all the time just being kind will get you ahead it doesn't matter what their skills you have being kind is something that we just don't see enough of and I'm 5:00teaching them that value.

CA: And old are they? Did you say?

GH: One is 21 and one is 24

CA: Alright. So, now we talked about how you never really moved around a lot obviously you had a very busy household, could you describe what a daily life was like growing in your house?

GH: Oh my gosh, our house was very interesting because of the time frame that it was, when I was young, I had 2 older brothers in the Vietnam war one was in Vietnam and one was in Okinawa during the war they were both military police so looking back as a mom now I realize that my mom was really worried about them but she did not let us see that she covered that up very well but, so I mean I grew up during the 60's so first we had the war I remember going to school I had a POW bracelet they had little metal bracelets they would have stamped names and dates on or missing in action and I wore one of those and I remember my 6th 6:00grade teacher saying she just thought that wasn't appropriate for a 6th grader, you know, to be concerned about those kind of things and it was such a reality in my house because we watched the news at night hoping to catch a glimpse of my brothers it wasn't like now where if people are in the war across the world they can Skype they can text they can call and we would sent packages to my brothers on the other side of the world and have no way of knowing if they even get them so it was very different. I would say that the 60s had a big impact because after the war they came back and it was like the hippy era and because I had other brothers and sisters there was that whole thing going on you know the peace thing and long hair and art communities and my mom was really involved in the civil rights movement in the 60s so.

CA: What was that like?


GH: It was interesting there was a family, I went to an all white school, and there was a neighborhood not too far away that had a family with I think they had 7 kids, and my mom and dad were friends with their parents and my mom thought it would be important to kind of integrate the school so on her own with that other family, they deiced to bring two of the boys to our elementary school so when they first started out the first few days it was my thing to wait at the corner, at the school we used to walk home for lunch every day, so I'd wait for these two black boys that were at our school to walk them home to eat lunch at our house, and then, in the long run it didn't really work out and they ended up going back to their school but it was cool that they tried

CA: Yeah, why do you think it didn't work out?

GH: I just don't think that the community was ready for it and I don't think 8:00that the kids were really ready for it either it was like it was a big thing and it shouldn't, I mean it was a big thing but it was almost distraction in their lives to be something that, you know, they felt like they just dint belong.

CA: You don't want to put that on them as young kids

GH: Nope

CA: So, you said you went to an all white school, do you know what was your favorite kind of subject growing up?

GH: Art, art and music

CA: It's always been art?

GH: Yeah, we had a very musical family

CA: Was school something that was really important to your family?

GH: Yes. And interestingly my mom felt that school was our place of business she said so we had to dress up for school which is another thing I don't see that much anymore, I saw a picture recently of kids at the state capitol like a 3rd grade field trip and they were all dressed like slobs


CA: Really?

GH: Yeah, and my mom always instilled in us when you're going to school you always dress up because it's important, it's your place of business and you know she took us to cultural events, you know music or theater and we had to dress up so when my kids were growing up then if they had, you know, a field trip to the grand opera house or the PC or something I made them dress up and sometimes they were the only kids but I, I felt that was important.

CA: Because you grew up having it be important to you?

GH: Yep

CA: So, obviously it sounds like music and like theater and things like that were really important in your family, now, when you thought about first thinking about going to college, was that a main idea of what you were going to pursue?

GH: Yeah. I started college as a music major and then I happened to be at a party one night and I didn't even know people did design and the person I was talking to at the party was a few years older and he said he worked in an 10:00advertising agency that his parents owned and he said come in we'll interview you, you know we'll hire you and I thought I didn't know anything about the field, I didn't even realize people did design, and I happened to see him about 2 weeks later at school and he said were waiting for you to come in, so I thought why not I'll try it out, he said we'll hire you so I went in and they did hire me and it turns out that that field is my field. It is completely what I should be doing and I'm really you know glad that I found it and it found me.

CA: Do you think that if you hadn't met that person that night you wouldn't have done this?

GH: No, I don't know how I would've been introduced to it.

CA: So, if you were a music major, do you know what you would've pursued with that?

GH: Looking back at it, I was a better musician than I understood when I was young. I would've loved to be a performance major I had an oboe teacher when I 11:00was young, I played the oboe, that wanted me to go out to New York and go to a high school of the arts which just seemed out of, you know, it seemed liked a fantasy, and so I thought when I was then starting college that more likely it would end up that I would go into music, what do you call it, therapy. Working with people

CA: So, you said that you, it was a thought that you would go to New York but that was crazy, do you think that had something to do with how Kenosha was always a home and how you didn't want to stray from home?

GH: I would've been adventurous to do it, I didn't think we had the money to do it. It just seemed like a pipe dream to me it did not seem likes something that could even be realistic and again, I mean Kenosha was a really good place to grow up if you were a musician. A very strong music program so I have friends 12:00who are professional musicians around the country and the world. So in comparison to them, I didn't feel like I was as good, but looking back I realize that I was a really good musician and probably could've made it in that field if I would've gone that way

CA: Do you ever regret that?

GH: I wonder what it would be like, but I don't regret it. It is what it is

CA: So, was college always something that you were going to do? Was it always in the plan?

GH: No, no because again being 9th of 10 kids

CA: Right

GH: It wasn't something that my parents ever really presented to us, because, they just could not afford to put 10 kids through college so all of my friends were on the college path every single one of them and as it got later and later in high school I kind of figured I would be able to go out to Parkside because 13:00it was in Kenosha [unclear] but I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, I just kind of figured I would do it but I didn't know what I would do or how I would get through it. And nobody ever presented to me that there were options for loans or grants or anything I had a friend kind of introduce me to that but they didn't even know about me or my family to make it happen.

CA: Right

GH: So it is, when I look back at that, after helping my kids completely to be college ready and get through college I have no idea how I made it. I really don't.

CA: What was so intriguing to you about the college experience?

GH: About going?

CA: Yeah.

GH: Before I went? It just seemed like a lot of fun and it seemed like a platform to get from one place to another. I thought it was really important and 14:00I saw that all my friends were doing it and I wanted to do it because they were.

CA: Do you think that was a big role in it? That everyone else was doing it?

GH: Yeah, sort of to say, yeah, and I thought that it would get me ahead. Some of my older brothers and sisters, my brothers when they came back from Vietnam both of them went to college, but one graduated from whitewater, one did not because he was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he got back so he went to Madison for school on and off but he was sick, he didn't end up graduating from college. And then, two of my sisters ended up going back after they had kids so they ended up graduating, one was a teacher and one was a nurse. I don't think my younger brother did go to college too but he didn't finish.

CA: Okay

GH: So half of us ended up being college graduates

CA: That's good


GH: None of them took the conventional route though, of graduating from high school and going into college

CA: Yeah, and I feel like not a lot of people do, everyone kind of does it in their own way, whatever works for them, so, you went to Parkside first, what made you come to Oshkosh then?

GH: Another fluke, I came home from work one day during the summer I think it was in July, and I already had spent a year at Parkside and UW Oshkosh sent me a catalog in the mail which I read through, you know you get a stack of mail from colleges but I just happened to be that day I ha time I opened it up I looked at it and I thought there are some interesting classes here that I think I might like to try out. So, I did. I called Oshkosh and I came up the next day, in July, this was late July, I had not applied here I had not any inclination of 16:00going to school here but I came the next day and registered and started you know 6 weeks later.

CA: Did you meet that guy at the party at Oshkosh or Parkside?

GH: At Parkside

CA: So, did you have a job in Parkside?

GH: Now I'm trying to think how that happened, I was thinking that I came up here my second year, I didn't come up here my second year, I went to Parkside for one year, cause then I came up and I lived in the dorms my second year, I don't even remember the timing

CA: That's alright

GH: I was thinking that I started design right away when I came here but I might have started music when I came here. I also remember being in the symphony and

CA: Okay

GH: Maybe I came for one semester, I don't even know, maybe I came for one semester went back home, no, I lived in the dorms for a year, I don't know.


CA: It's okay, so you lived in the dorms, do you know what dorm you lived in?

GH: I lived in Brees hall

CA: And that's no longer here, right?

GH: No, it's beautiful though

CA: Yeah, I think that's where horizon is now

GH: Mhmm.

CA: Yeah, that's where I live now so

GH: Nice.

CA: So you're a graphic designer now

GH: Mhmm

CA: And you didn't always know you wanted to doth is but, and I guess we kind of just talked about but, did graphic design bring you to Oshkosh? Did you know that it was offered here before you drove up and registered?

GH: I did not come here for the major, if that, I mean like how I always told my kids you should not just pick a school because your friends are going there, you should pick a school because they have a strong program in what you want to do. That was not why I ended up here at all. I know that for sure. I just came here because I opened up the catalog and it looked like they had classes I might like. So I can't really answer that question in a very typical way.


CA: That's alright, so what was your first impression of Oshkosh, obviously good.

GH: Yes. I really liked it, and then it turned out that one of my great friends after I had registered just before school started another dear friend probably my best friend, also decided to come up here for school, we both lived-in Brees Hall together

CA: You were roommates?

GH: No, we weren't roommates. I actually kind of wanted to get away from her because I just needed to stretch and grow

CA: Right

GH: And I was kind of disappointed that she decided to come up here too, but were friends to this day, not best friends, but it all worked out

CA: What do you remember specifically about the begging of you r time here?

GH: I loved meeting new friends from all over, I really did. And some friends I'm grateful for Facebook that it came along and I was able to re kindle 19:00friendships with kids all over the country that we were dear friends with. And I would, I feel kind of like because of Facebook were good friend again even though we haven't seen each other, and I did have a small mini reunion this year with some friends from UW Oshkosh not from the dorm days, but from school

CA: Okay, so now is Kenosha a really small town? I'm not sure.

GH: Kenosha's, I think the 5th biggest in the state so probably twice the size of Oshkosh.

CA: Oh, so coming here was it different to be, like downsize?

GH: Was it different to downsize… it was nice, it was quant, it was quieter, the diversity that was very different, I think Oshkosh is growing to be a little 20:00bit more diverse now, it even when we moved back 20 years ago, a pretty white community, so that was different having grown up in Kenosha there was a little bit of racial tension going on then. The welfare system made it such that welfare people could come up from Chicago and get welfare pretty easily even if they weren't lived here and that provided for some tension in Kenosha, growing up.

CA: Do you think you saw any of that same tension up here?

GH: No, not at all. I would say that, I would say that the lack of tension was because of the lack of diversity thought. I don't think it was because people here were more accepting. I didn't think, I don't think they had the opportunity.

CA: So, do you remember what your first day was like up here?

GH: A party. It really was.


CA: What was that like?

GH: It was fun walking in and meeting my roommate and actually the first thing, before I met here I met one of her best friends and she called my roommate "potty" this girl was a dead head with long frizzy hair, from new jersey so she had the jersey kind of, you know what I mean? Her name was sherry and she came e in with like grateful dead t shirt on and she was like is potty here and potty was patty my roommate who I hadn't met yet and so I wasn't sure what I was getting into because yeah, that wasn't my scene I was more into the dance phase the Madonna or the 80s like talking heads kind of the punk music, a lot of dance 22:00stuff though. So yeah, it was interesting first impression to meet a dead head that was my roommates best friend.

CA: So, do you think it all worked out for the best thought?

GH: It was fine, we did not hang out at all, but I don't think they gated me.

CA: So you were cordial with each other?

GH: Yeah.

CA: That's good

GH: We didn't, we appreciated each other's differences we never went out but we made it okay.

CA: So since you didn't spend time with her, where do you think you spent most of your time on campus?

GH: I met people right away, I mean it was like we went down to the first floor we had floors like I think first and second floor were guys and third and fourth were girls. My best friend and I and some new girls that we just met went down and met the guys right away and hung out from day one. We just went out that night together, and one of the guys that we met the first fay is still a good friend.


CA: So you keep in touch with your college friends?

GH: Mhmm.

CA: So, you said the dorms were separated by female and male floors, were all the dorms on campus separated like that?

GH: Some were all female and some were all make?

CA: And this was mixed, was this the most mixed that it got?

GH: Yeah.

CA: Okay. So you never well, at Parkside did you live in the. No.

GH: No, they didn't have dorms at Parkside when I went there

CA: Just a commuter school?

GH: Yep.

CA: Okay. So you never really lived in the same building as boys before, was that a new experience for you?

GH: Yeah

CA: What was that like?

GH: It was fun, and, I don't even know how to say this nicely, but the 80s were pretty crazy, sexually, because it was before aids and stuff so there was a lot of I think what my kids would say hooking up, a lot, I mean it just was

CA: Just normal?

GH: It was very normal for people to go home with other people at night. I think 24:00that's what you said, I'm going to go home with them, and good people did it and naughty people did it, pretty much everybody did it that I knew.

CA: You lived in the dorms and you obviously had fun in the dorms, did you, I know you had circumstances at home, but did you go home a lot or?

GH: I did go home al lot, yea, and I think it's because my friends that came up here with me had a car, back then not everybody had cars, but she did and so it was easy for her to drive home and because we had come to school and Parkside, we had a lot of friends there you know what I mean that we had connected with from that area so we would zip down there and go out sometimes, come back, yeah we went home quiet often.

CA: So, You said your mom died when you were 16, tell me a little bit more about that

GH: That was difficult because it was completely unexpected, she had a stroke, 25:00so I was awoken by my dad in the middle of the night to go to CPR on my mom and I would say my life changed dramatically from that point on. So, I did CPR and she lived for 3 days which was long enough for family and friends to come and see her, she was in a coma, but they could say their goodbyes and stuff and then she died so life changed dramatically. At that point

CA: In what ways would you day it changed?

GH: Oh my gosh, my dad, my mom was the homemaker, so she did everything to raise us and my dad was a carpenter he was not, you know, the homemaker, he did not know how to do laundry for 10 kids, and by that time there were just 2 of us left at home but my didn't know how to do anything in the house. And so, I got kind of thrown into the roll right away of lets grocery shopping for the family, 26:00lets plan meals, lets prepare, so it was a [unclear] of being in charge and also I mean it was kind of strange at the funeral the priest told me if you think your mom could watch you before, she can see everything that you do now so you better be pretty good and that kind of made me feel like I was doomed, so I kind of just was wild child for a while there, yeah, so. I was on my own.

CA: And you had a, your younger sibling, how young were they?

GH: I just had one younger brother, he was 14

CA: Okay so he wasn't that much younger than you.

GH: Nope

CA: Okay, so in the sense that you were the only girl left in the house, because you had your dad and your brother, do you think that they both kind of relied on you?

GH: Yes, I would say, and then another complicating thing was because he felt 27:00like my, because my dad felt like he couldn't handle being the parent alone, he soon, like one year after my mom died, he got remarried.

CA: Wow

GH: I mean he didn't know this person, he just was so lost without having my mom there, he had no idea what he was doing and someone introduced him to this women and he married her and it was a bad bad situation and so my senior year another senior in high school moved in my house so, my junior year, in the beginning of my junior year at age 16 I was young, I started school early so I started college when I was 17, yeah t senior year another senior moved in the house who was a crazy crazy girl, and we graduated together and I had a crazy stepmother and a couple of other siblings so not only did my mom die a year later our whole 28:00world was upside down because this other family came in and then the next year after that was when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer

CA: So do you till keep in touch with you stepmom?

GH: Oh she died since then too?

CA: Did she died, she dies fated your dad died right?

GH: Yeah.

CA: So, not that you were older when your dad died, how old were you?

GH: 24.

CA: 24. So you didn't need a parental figure so much anymore but did you still keep in contact with her while she was alive?

GH: No, once she came into the picture, I was pretty much on my own, I was very close to my dad and I kept in close contact with him, but especially because he was dying but that situation was very very difficult. To have another girl the same age in my family, air quotes, who was not in college, who made it, it was 29:00difficult because my stepmother didn't care about college. Her daughter wasn't in college, she didn't care that I was, so I had no encouragement or no help at all so really I got 20 dollars for college and that is. 20 bucks. Literally a 20-dollar bill and a set of towels that I was asked to pay for.

CA: Wow. How did that make you feel?

GH: I didn't even know, I mean I had no idea how difficult that was I just did it. I mean, I went to the bank and got loans on my own, I came to school and registered on my own, my brother, one of my older brothers drove me up here my first year, and dropped me off, and all of it, I mean it sounds like I wouldn't have been that close to my dad but I really was, it was just that I was completely independent.


CA: Right.

GH: So, yeah that's, it wasn't very typical college freshman career at all.

CA: You were more like a full adult, because you were doing it on your own. The friends that you had around you, did they I don't know if you know this, but did they pay for college in like a more traditional way? Like did they get help from their parents?

GH: Oh yeah I think everybody got help from their parents, or, the thing that surprised me was I know that certain friends had that financial aid, and I applied for financial aid, and honestly with ten kids my parents didn't have any money. My stepmother sold her house when they got married and so she had that in the bank so we had to count that for me for financial aid although I would not have gotten a penny of it. So, I think that if somebody could've guided me better, maybe I would've been able to get sine help somehow, but I mean I got 31:00loans and yeah, it worked out okay.

CA: Well it's good that it worked out, but how at the time, how did it make you feel that you t step mom was kind of almost like taking that from you?

GH: It made me very determined. I mean, I was so determined, maybe that's why she was put in my life, because she made it so difficult for me in so many ways that I was just so dammed determined to make it. And that's why I mean it took me a long time, I know the facts that you have for me for college I started when like, I said I was 17 in 1979 at Parkside, and I came here in 1980 and I did not actually receive my diploma until 1989. I walked in 85 or 86,

CA: Yeah 86.

GH: Yeah, I had 172 credits and no diploma, because I just kept going to school, 32:00I was just determined to figure out a way to make this work out.

CA: Yeah, so, all your other siblings that didn't live with you at the time that this was happening, how did they kind of feel about the whole situation?

GH: In hind sight, looking back, they will say they felt really bad they weren't moved involved but they had their lives at the time, young families, new marriages, they were just out of the house and starting their lives and so, guess it was natural for them not to be really concerned, because I just up and went about my own thing.

CA: You seemed capable of doing it on your own

GH: Yeah, I mean when I look back now and I was so lost and I was so wild , I mean yeah, it's amazing, it's a miracle I got through, but I did.

CA: Now, are you married?

GH: Yep.

CA: When did you get married?


GH: Um, oh that's kind of a fun story too because one of the first friends, one spring break, I met a girl from another form who ended up being one of my dear friends, and actually it's funny because today on Facebook she posted a Facebook memory and it was a picture of us, we ended up meeting during spring break even though I hated her and it turned out I hated her because she was one of those people that I was kind of jealous of. And so, a common friend said, you should really friend her, because I think you guys would be great friends, so on our bus trip down to spring break in Daytona, we became great friends and we hangout ever since then through college and we ended up being roommates off campus for years and we graduated together and during college she went out with my husband. So, that's how I knew, I met my husband


CA: Wow.

GH: Crazy, isn't it? And then he graduated and moved, they broke up, he graduated and move to Florida and we ended up through another common friend, getting together, and now were married.

CA: So did he go here?

GH: Mhmm.

CA: And did you meet in Florida? Because you said you moved down to Florida.

GH: No I knew him from being my roommate's boyfriend

CA: Okay, so where really did you reconnect?

GH: In Florida

CA: Florida? What was that like, meeting him again?

GH: Well, we went down, another mutual friend from the art department wanted to go on vacation and we were all friends, this group of friends. We were all roommates at various times and so this friend here, wanted me to go down and visit my husband with him so I did and my husband and I hooked up and now were married, we've been married for 28 years.

CA: How old were you when you were married?


GH: 28 I think

CA: And when did you have your first child?

GH: 30.

CA: 30.

GH: Yeah.

CA: And you have two kids, are they boys, girls?

GH: Two boys

CA: Two boys?

GH: Yep.

CA: Okay, what are they doing now?

GH: One, the one that's 21 is a fourth year student at UWM and following my lead he's, his major is journalism, advertising and media studies, so not the art end of it but the journalism and advertising kind of following what I did. And then the other graduated from Madison in four years and he is a program manager in implementation specialist for epic.

CA: Okay. So, I have here that you were in track for a year here, so what was 36:00that like?

GH: That was something else that was completely a crazy fluke. When I lived in the dorms, I didn't want to gain the freshman 15 that everyone was, so I was running every day and then one day a guy that was on the track team from Trinidad asked if he could run with me and we were out running and he said you're a pretty good runner and you should join the track team and I had no idea what track was about so I said yeah I'll do it, why not. So I did, and I ended up running the half mile which I didn't realize was one of the hardest races because I figured it would be easy since I ran mostly at least 3-5 or 10 miles or.

CA: Everyday?

GH: Yeah.

CA: Wow, that's a lot of running. Why did you stop doing track?

GH: I think I went back to Parkside. That may have been why. I don't know.

CA: Okay.


GH: Because I wasn't that good at track

CA: Okay

GH: And I had fun, I guess I didn't care that I wasn't that good at it, I think maybe my roommates were graduating and they were in track and I don't know.

CA: So you just said you went back to Parkside, so you went to Parkside for a year, then you came here, and then you went back to Parkside?

GH: Mhmm. And then I came back here. It was difficult because it was a money thing too and there were times when my dad was sicker and so I knew my little and brother and I came home at least one semester back Kenosha. He was at stout for school and yeah. Another reason it took me so long to graduate and why I wasn't in a hurry to just finish up was they had a stipulation for student loans back then that if you graduated or were out of school for longer than 9 months you had to start paying your loan back and I wasn't in any way ready to do that 38:00so I strategically placed my classes and not graduating and number of credits I was taking so I didn't have to pay my loans back yet, so I didn't graduate, I kept one classes even though I walked I needed a general humanities class and for any other majors any music or art major or music or art class would could for a humanities but since I was a music and art major those classes didn't count for general humanities so I had 172 credits and moved back to Milwaukee and then, so I couldn't have taken [unclear] get into a freshman class, so really there was nothing I could do so eventually I just wrote to the dean and asked for a diploma and they gave it to me.

CA: Nice. So, you went, once you came back to Oshkosh for the second time, what 39:00really brought you back that time?

GH: I was really interested in the design program by then, and I mean I did work in that advertising agency in Kenosha when I would go back home too and then the summers and so I was really getting a great education both places, and so really as far as in the design program here I was probably way advanced so my favorite instructor here was, he owned a small agency, he was [unclear] instructor, and so he recognized that I was beyond what the kids were doing here because I had already work experience and so he really pushed me and so by the end of school too, I interviewed, I was reading the, you know, help wanted ads and I realized 40:00that there were an agency in town that maybe would hire me for part time and so I interviewed just basically so they would look through my portfolio so it was kind of funny so I put on a dress and I pinned the sides of my dress and rode my bike to this interview and I had comps that I had for a package design I did an independent, you know, a package design class, I had made comps which students here wouldn't even have known about the comps but since I was already working I knew what comps were which were making like, I was at work making things, in Kenosha, so I put them in a garbage bag and came to an interview here just hoping that they would look through my portfolio and give me some advice about it and I end up getting hired so while I was going to school here I started working and then I changed my classes to night time so I could work full time in an agency while I was still going to school.

CA: Okay.

GH: Did that answer any of your questions?

CA: Yes perfectly, very perfectly. How did you feel when you finally did finish 41:00school, because you were here for a while?

GH: Well it was great to go through graduation ceremony, because my dad was really sick and about to die and he did come for graduation ceremony so that was a special opportunity to have him see me graduate. Even though I really didn't, for so long, for years after that, so that was great. And then it was just kind of fun that day that, I mean I was already married, and to get my diploma in the mail that was kind of funny, actually I think following that, I got my high school diploma after that. So at least 10 years after I graduated from high school, I got my high school diploma after my college diploma.

CA: Why did you get your high school diploma 10 years later?

GH: That was fun, I had outstanding library finds in high school, and so when 42:00they handed me my diploma it said there was a note in there due to your outstanding fines you know you won't receive your diploma and then I just laughed I thought I was joke and actually there was a cartoon in the paper around the same time that was about the same thing so I cut the cartoon out and I out it in my diploma and then my maid of honor, 10 years after high school I graduated in 79, she went in 89 back to our high school, and paid my high school, the fines, and in got my diploma.

CA: Well that's awesome, so once you finished college and you got your diploma and everything, then you had to start paying off your loans?

GH: My loans were paid back.

CA: They were? They were all good? Were you able to pay them because you had that full time job?

GH: Yeah. My loans were paid back quickly. I only had 10,000 in loans.

CA: Okay, so once you were out of college did you graduate debt free?

GH: Well I had 10,000 in loans, well I guess if you look at when I actually got 43:00my diploma we were out of debt then. Yeah. That's our philosophy, we don't ever need debt.

CA: Alright. So what was life like once you were out of college?

GH: I've been really lucky to have great jobs in my field, probably since I started working in design before I even knew it was a field, and then I gained the experience and then being able to work full time while I was still in college here at another agency I worked, I worked in some creative agencies, worked with some great fortune 500 companies, that really created experience, and then when my first son was born I started working for myself, and I've been working freelance ever since.

CA: Yeah, so there's never really been a time in your life where you haven't really had a job set up for yourself?

GH: No. I've been very fortunate.

CA: So you've been doing that freelance work for 20 years you said?

GH: 25 years

CA: 25 years.


GH: Well 24

CA: What has that been like?

GH: It's the best. It's the best thing in the world because as soon as my first son was born I started working for myself and so they grew up seeing me work, I think I have a really good work ethic so they are both hard workers now, they were able to go to meetings with me, photo shoots press checks, so they got to see that world, plus because of the flexibility of working for myself I was able to go volunteer in their schools, if it was a nice day, I mean I,I drove them to school and picked them up every day or rode bikes with them, you know what I mean? I was able to play after school. I was there if they were sick, I went on every field trips, I mean it was just a really great way to have my own career that was you know real forward but still be able to really be in their lives.


CA: So, it sounds like you had a pretty great life after college. Do you think college prepared you well enough for your life?

GH: I think that, I saw the experience of the program that I went through and realized that most of kids that I sent to school with, very few of them ended up staying in our field, that went to school for design, and part of it was, I didn't know that the, I didn't believe that we were really being prepared, I hate to say this about UW Oshkosh, but I don't think we were prepared for the field. So, I did get in touch with some of the people here to try and you know let them know that. And it wasn't just UW Oshkosh, part of the problem here was if you were a graphics major the fine art teachers looked down on you like you were selling yourself out, and vice versa, the graphic teachers thought the fine 46:00artists were snooty and were never going to have a job and so although we were required to be fine art majors, bachelor of fine art, that was really tough to have those teachers kind of, you know, they were butting heads and they made us feel bad about it and I know [unclear] that gave us the best feelings about what we were doing.

CA: Almost like putting you guys against each other

GH: Yep.

CA: Which wouldn't help you when you're trying to pursue your career you know?

GH: Yes, so I could be in a water color class and I would have more of an illustrative water color and the teacher would say you know that's, that's not acceptable, that's an illustration, and I thought well I'm going into a graphic commercial world so if I'm going to do illustration, or you know if m gonna do water color it's going to be here so it was tough, and that was kind of a conflict.

CA: Yeah, and so one of my questions to you was have you had any involved with the university and it sounds like you have since you contacted them.


GH: I did and at one point I know that they needed someone, I think there was a tragic accident, and they lost someone in the design department and I just called because I had some flexibility to work and I thought I would be a valuable asset to kids being more prepared for the real world, but I don't have a master's degree and they were not interested in hiring any instructors at that time.

CA: So you were going to teach though?

GH: I would have, yeah. And I know that what I could've offered would've been interestingly I have a niece who loved what I was doing and she came up here to go to school and se went through design here so I now that at the time she was here when I would have been able to offer to teach, they did not have the right people teaching in the commercial department, and they weren't, they were learning so it was just, the advent of computer software really coming in and they were learning some practical skills but they still you know you could have, 48:00and I understand since then they really are much more up to date and that it's a valuable education now but I think there were some years there where it really wasn't good as it could have been.

CA: Okay, so getting back to more of your time here on campus, was there anything of significance about being a woman on campus during this time?

GH: I don't even, part of it probably, which is awkward to talk about, was that sexual part of it, the sexual inappropriateness of what happened. I know I read stories now and I think about people getting in to situations, it was very much more prevalent back then when there was drinking going on and you know I mentioned earlier that it was a pretty free atmosphere, there were situation 49:00which girls got into which you read about now I think there's a lot more understanding about sexual harassment and abuse as there was then.

CA: Yeah.

GH: Yeah because it happened.

CA: Did anyone close to you or around you have to deal with anything like that?

GH: I did.

CA: You did? What was that like?

GH: That's hard to talk about, I mean because of the people that were involved, but there was a situation and it involved athletes from another school, and a coach was aware of it, and it was made that I was in, when I read the stories now, and I realize what happened then, I would never go after those people, but 50:00yeah the coach made it seem like it was my fault and I shouldn't have been in the spot that I as in. when I look back at that, it wasn't right, no.

CA: Can you tell me about anything that happened?

GH: I don't want to because, yeah I don't want to

CA: That's fine, so were there any major cultural events that you remember on campus?

GH: One thing I thought was awesome, which I didn't realize I loved my advisor and he was a figure drawing teacher and closer to the end of my time he brought in an exhibit that went through art theater and music, which was something we hadn't done a lot of at that time and it was, he had been in Germany during the holocaust and so he brought in art that was drawn during the holocaust by a 51:00holocaust, in a concentration camp. It was pretty phenomenal, yeah and then they had concert and did a theater, a theoretical thing I would say that was probably something that had the most impact

CA: Okay, do you remember hearing anything about something called Black Thursday?

GH: No.

CA: No? You don't remember anything about that?

GH: What was that?

CA: It was like, when like a group of, over in Dempsey hall a group of like black students, it was like a protest.

GH: Hmm

CA: No? You didn't hear anything about that?

GH: No but that wouldn't surprise me, because I think it was at a time when people would even I would hear people who grew up here the townies, would say colored people and stuff and tat just seemed strange to me.

CA: Yeah.

GH: So I can see where, that could've been a problem.

CA: But it was not a big part of your life?

GH: No, I don't remember that happened at all and I don't remember, the black 52:00people that I knew here, I don't remember that, where anyone was from. From the track team and I as friends, oh yeah, that's how I met that guy, we were friends, so it wasn't an issue for me.

CA: You didn't know many black people

GH: No.

CA: Throughout pretty much your whole life you never rally were exposed to a lot of like diverse areas?

GH: In Kenosha we were. Yeah the elementary school did not, going into our junior year of high school was a very good experience, I think, because it was the poorest of the poor kids and the richest. The kids that lived in houses on the lake along with kids that didn't have anything and so I came to appreciate that and recognized, I guess I didn't realize it during college when I was here, but when I moved back with my kids, I realized having moved with them from Milwaukee that we were coming back into a really white community, and I really 53:00was not happy about that because I thought that they would be better served being in a more diverse community.

CA: And learning about all the different kinds of people?

GH: Yeah, the real world. I don't think Oshkosh, but like I said it's becoming more diverse. And it's interesting because my younger son at UWM had a black roommate and the son that wen to Madison had a Hmong roommates.

CA: So they were both exposed to diversity pretty quick?

GH: They were, and the one in Madison worked out just great, they're not friends, they've probably never seen each other and talked since then but they had zero problems with each then. The one in Milwaukee was not as…

CA: Easy?

GH: No it wasn't, and I think it was just that they didn't understand because they hadn't grown up with the other culture at all. And so they ended up after ¾ of the year, the young black boy moved out of the room. They weren't having 54:00big problems but they just didn't see eye to eye and now I wish, and I have said to the people here [unclear] that I hope that they do something here, and I mentioned it at UWM too, to help kids work through those situations, because since it wasn't a bad problem I felt like if somebody in the dorm in Milwaukee had helped my son and his roommate better understand what was going on rather than just saying alright, were going to move, that they could've both grown from that situation instead of just going two different ways.

CA: Exactly. So, if you could choose one thing from your time in college what would that be?

GH: I could do anything. Yeah I could do anything from the unknown, make it happen, I tell my kids for their college experience, keep your eyes and ears open because you don't know what you're going to come across, and I, if I had 55:00not been open, I wouldn't be in the field that I am right now. I probably wouldn't have ended up with my husband, or have the kids that I do, and so yeah, I would say be open to every experience and what you're learning from it.

CA: What do you think of the university now?

GH: I think it's awesome. My husband and I both agree and we come here for events, he played football here so he's excited about the game this weekend and so we go to a lot football games, we come to the theater a lot, were season ticket holders, and we had never visited that when we were in college. We walk along the riverfront, we appreciate the great work that they've done with the buildings and I mean the biodiversity the, all of that, were just really impressed.


CA: Yeah, so I have one final question for you

GH: Okay.

CA: If you could give any advice to students now, what would that be?

GH: Keep an open mind, and experience as much as you can. Experience classes and as many fields as you can, I guess you can take as many credits as I did, for 7years or whatever it was, taking whatever you felt like taking, but I really do feel like I got enriched by doing that so I would keep your eyes open and experience as many things as you can. Meet as many new people as you can.

CA: Alright, well thank you very much for talking to us today.

GH: Alright!

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