Interview with Heather Cambray, 11/29/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Emily Belongia , Interviewer | uwocs_Heather_Cambray_11292016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


EB: Alright, today is November 29th, 2016. It is 6:34 pm and we are at 3208 Sandpiper Lane in Appleton WI, 54913. My name is Emily Belongia and I am interviewing Heather Cambray this evening. I have the Deed of Gift with me, which I will have you sign at the end of this interview. I will be interviewing you for around 60 minutes. Is that okay with you?

HC: Yes.

EB: Alright. Let's start off by talking about your childhood a little bit.

HC: Okay.

EB: Where did you grow up?

HC: I grew up in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, which is right outside of Madison (Wisconsin). Let's see. We moved there when I was probably three and a half years old. I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We lived in Paramount, California for a little bit and then I lived in Madison or outside of Madison and then I moved to Sun Prairie. I went to school at Royal Oaks Elementary School for kindergarten. My favorite teacher's name was Mrs. McDonald and that 1:00always sticks with me because I like McDonalds at that age. Then I switched to Sacred Heart Catholic School for 1st through 4th grade and then went back to Royal Oaks Elementary School for 5th and 6th grade.

EB: So question, why did you do all of the moving when you were younger?

HC: Uhm, let's see. My mom had a cousin in California that she wanted to go and move by and I guess my dad was up for that adventure so that why we went to California.

EB: Did they like it?

HC: They thought it would be because where we lived in Paramount, it was pretty much right across the street from Compton so a little rough and then we moved back this way (Wisconsin) and we landed in Sun Prairie based on where my dad got a job when we came back from California.

EB: So can you tell me a little bit about Sun Prairie like the community life?

HC: I would imagine it's very different now because it's connected to Madison 2:00but at the time there was significant enough difference between the two that Sun Prairie was its own standalone community. We lived more, what was out in the country at the time, which is now probably what is now in the hub of Sun Prairie, the way it is sprawled. It seemed to be a quiet community, pretty centered around where people went to church or their work and then when you got into high school, sports but not like today where sports rule everything all the time.

EB: Pretty much. So could you tell me a little bit about your parents? I know you mentioned that you have a mom and a dad. Could you tell me a little bit about them, like what their jobs were and everything?

HC: Yeah. My mom's name is Dee. She grew up in Sheboygan (Wisconsin). She met my dad at UW (University of Wisconsin) Stout because they both went to that school. My dad grew up in Baraboo Wisconsin and his name is Otto. So they met 3:00at school and they ended up getting married and after that I think they lived in Howard (Wisconsin) for a while, part of Green Bay (Wisconsin) and my dad had worked downtown at the Pyrenees Department store down there.

EB: Very cool.

HC: Yeah. Way back when, right? That was all pre-children and then I think my dad's degree was in the accounting realm and so eventually when we were in Sun Prairie, he was the credit manager for an equipment implement firm. My mom stayed home with us kids for most of the years and then did side jobs to bring in some extra money, working at a shoe store, doing at home babysitting. Both of them had worked at the Wisconsin Chessman, which was very busy at the holiday time.

EB: Yup.

HC: It was a big catalog place for food and stuff for holiday presents. I don't think it exists anymore. They got divorced when I was in 8th grade and 4:00then my dad got remarried the following year.

EB: Okay, alright. You said that they both went to UW Stout. Was higher education really important to them?

HC: I think it was. My mom didn't end up graduating because that was still in that time where sometimes you got, uhm, I don't think she meant to get an MRS degree but she did. So she stopped going to school so she could finish paying for my dad's college education so he got the degree and she didn't. She was very academically oriented in high school and in college. Incredibly smart. So it's surprising that she didn't end up getting the degree and I think she wished that she had. 

EB: Yeah.

HC: But things are what they are. My dad would have been the first person in his family to go to college. 

EB: That's great.

HC: It was kind of one of those, it was only him and his sister, and it was 5:00usually a decision on only one gets money, so it went to the first born and it happened to be my dad. That's what I heard anyway. But it was very important to my mom that us kids go on to college. Like I can't remember a time where my mom didn't say "You will go to college when you get older and you will get your degree!"

EB: So that's what made you decide to go to college?

HC: Yeah, like it wasn't an option. It was always going to happen. 

EB: That's not a bad thing.

HC: Not at all. Not a bad thing until you are trying to find out how to pay for it. 

EB: Oh yeah, that's always fun to figure out. When you were younger, what were some of the lessons or traditions that your family had?

HC: From a lesson standpoint, both of my parents are extremely hard workers, so solid work ethic. You just worked as many jobs as needed to make ends meet and 6:00provide for the family. Tradition wise, most things that come to mind would relate to the Christmas holiday. Definitely. There were certain cookies that had to be made every year and a certain way things got decorated. We would have to have a certain type of tree and my parents, no matter if we had much money or not, always had made Christmas really neat. Like you wouldn't know that there were any challenges because there was always an abundance of gifts. Now at that time, you got a lot of what you needed at Christmas.

EB: Yup.

HC: You didn't necessarily get it throughout the year but it could be a little bit nicer when you get it at Christmas because then it was more of a present, you know? 

EB: Yup.

HC: You get plain underwear if it was a need but then you get fancier underwear around Christmas time. So that was always good stuff and then we would sing Christmas carols from this old piano books that my mom had around her piano 7:00she had in the basement. 

EB: That's really neat.

HC: Yes, so those were neat times.

EB: Definitely, so could you tell me more about yourself? You could tell me a little more about your schooling, like you're before college?

HC: Sure. Like any age up until then?

EB: Yeah.

HC: I was a pretty propitious kid. Most of my teachers knew me well because I talked a lot. I pretty much thought I knew everything, all the time and that I was right. But they usually liked me because apparently I was a likeable kid. Even though looking back, I thought I was annoying. I didn't tend to get into too much trouble, while other kids might because I always still knew what we were doing in class and I got all of my work done and I was smart. But I 8:00think I would have annoyed me, if I were a teacher. I am not a fan of the "know it alls" and I was one of those. 

EB: Yup.

HC: Let's see. School wise, I really enjoyed school. All the way up until middle school. Hated middle school. Middle School was awful.

EB: How come?

HC: Because that is when some girls would get very, I don't know. Would go over the top with needing to wear makeup and doing their hair and looking perfect and having designer clothes. And if you didn't have designer clothes or you were behind them in the female growth curve then they picked on you. I got picked on excessively in middle school and it was interesting because I didn't really care what I wore because clothes were a matter of utility and practicality but it did hurt to have people pick on you and put you down and call you really awful things just because you didn't have the right clothes.


EB: Yeah, and sometimes it's not even an option in some families.

HC: Right. Exactly. That's kind of how it was for my family at that point and time because my parents were going through a divorce at that time, so yeah, I did not enjoy that time. Although, I did have very good girl friends, thankfully. We had fun. But I would still prefer to have cut that part of my life out. 

EB: So, did your friends follow you from elementary to middle to high school? 

HC: Yeah.

EB: Depending where you were at the time?

HC: For the most part. My very best friend Jessica. We rented a duplex from them when we first got back from California. So she's my very first friend that I remember because I was 3 something.

EB: Yeah.

HC: We went to kindergarten together and then we went to Sacred Heart together through 4th grade. She stayed at Sacred Heart 4th through 6th grade or 5th through 6th grade. 5th and 6th grade. And then we both went over to the public middle school, so then we were friends there. I had the people I knew from 10:00Royal Oaks at the middle school to so it was nice to have known people from two different schools. And then get back together and meet up with the rest of them in high school too. 

EB: Well that's really neat. So could you tell me a little bit about your classes? You said that you really liked school, so could you tell me about your teachers or your classes?

HC: Yeah. I, for the most part, had great teachers. The one that comes to mind, because we never hit it off was Sister Cynthia, in 3rd grade. And Sister Cynthia and I were just not compatible personalities with each other. And, excuse me, and the only day my parents had service day at school is the day I did not get to go to lunch because I was lip syncing the words to Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" at my desk and she thought I was talking out loud but I was just singing to myself. And then she got mad at me and she came back 11:00and she picked up my desk. Our desks there were, a chair and it was separate from the desk. She picks up my desk and slams it down so that the contents of my desk going flying everywhere, and I was very messy, so there was plenty that went everywhere. And then I didn't get to go to lunch and then the next thing I see is my parents standing in the doorway and then I knew I was toast, like I am grounded for at least the next month because you just don't mess with your teachers.

EB: Oh no.

HC: So yeah, I thought that was awesome. Otherwise I liked all of my teachers. I think my teachers in 5th and 6th grade were really cool. Mr. Cole and Mr. Morgan come to mind. Just, they saw something in me that they wanted to be channeled in the right direction from a leadership perspective. So they connected me with a number of different things and that was very good that they did that because I'm sure as a teacher you can kind of see where someone could 12:00potentially go down the wrong path with things that could always be strengths. And especially since it was more turbulent times, leading up to the years that my parents got divorced. You kind of know that something isn't right at home.

EB: Yeah.

HC: So, I am thankful to them for their patience and persistence there. I can't say I really had any favorites for classes because I loved it all.

EB: That's awesome. You don't find that very often, at all. 

HC: There were some things that came better to me and things that were harder. Math was a little bit harder but I loved all of it. 

EB: That's very cool.

HC: Yeah. 

EB: So what was one of your goals when you were younger?

HC: I was going to be the first female president.

EB: That is very awesome.

HC: If you talked to anybody and said "what do you know about Heather Mattke from back when she was in grade school?" In fact when we were campaigning for our student council spots in 6th grade, my platform was that they needed to vote 13:00for me because I wanted to be the first female president and we needed to start somewhere.

EB: That's awesome.

HC: Yeah, yeah. Now I no longer want anything to do with politics.

EB: At the time that was it?

HC: Yes, yes. I was going to be both the first female president and I was going to be Miss America. 

EB: Oh. Very neat.

HC: I lacked in the talent but I was trying for that. Oh yeah, we can have big dreams when we are kids.

EB: Well, I think that is pretty awesome. Did your parents accept this goal? Did they help you out with that?

HC: I think they thought, sure why not.

EB: Something to reach for?

HC: Yeah if you want to go for that, go ahead. I grew up watching mainly PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) shows. Like my favorite shows were Cosmos and the (unclear) news hour, so if you thought I was strange, you're right. And I loved watching all of the political stuff and it was fun then because I just liked all 14:00of it. I had no partisan, leaning whatsoever. Because you're just a kid. So I'm listening to the different debates, thinking hmm that has some merit, like you just listen to one party's convention and then I would say to my dad "well that had some merit" and then he would say "Oh my gosh, what are you talking about?" And then on the other one I'd be like "That had some merit." and he would say "Well of course it does." So it was just kind of funny.

EB: So you could clearly tell his political views.

HC: Yeah.

EB: So could you talk a little bit about high school?

HC: Yeah. High School was a lot of fun. I liked that we had just one high school in town so you know all the kids that went to school together. We had one of the smallest classes. Like after us, I think, the enrollments went up. We were the dip of enrollments. So I think we ended up with like 223 or something who graduated with us. And other classes were over 300. Again, I had 15:00great teachers. I got along really well with most of them. Nicknames, I was often called brown noser just because I got along well with my teachers.

EB: Yup.

HC: Of course, you can't just get along with your teachers. You can't just earn your grade. You have to have a nudge. Yeah, and I also kept that kind of thought of "I know everything all the time and I am always right." I guess I channeled that well though because my nickname ended up being mom because I would lecture my friends, "You must wear your seatbelt. You cannot drink. No you aren't going to try that. No you don't want that person to be your boyfriend or your girlfriend because it's just going to be all bad." And my other nickname was the nun. Because I did, in high school, think that maybe I was going to be 16:00a nun. 

EB: Oh. Why'd you think that?

HC: Uhm. That is a really good question. I always feel like I was always a fairly spiritual person so I thought that that was the only option. I was raised a catholic Lutheran. My dad was catholic and my mom was Lutheran. That just seemed to be the only option. 

EB: Okay.

HC: I don't know.

EB: That's not a bad thing.

HC: I obviously decided not to do that.

EB: Yeah. Being called mom is good. Did you participate in any extracurriculars in high school?

HC: Yeah. So freshman year I tried out for football cheerleading. I made that, so that kind of became my thing. I would go from football to basketball cheerleading and did that for all four years. We got a new coach at our school 17:00for cheerleading. That was when cheerleading was kind of on its rise and then it quickly fell and got replaced by dance teams. But in the height it was really fun. We were doing a lot of stunts and dances and stuff so we got the nice variety of it, where now I find cheerleaders incredibly annoying. But it was a lot of fun.

EB: It was a little bit different then?

HC: It was a little bit different then. Yeah. We will just leave it at that. We went to a number of camps too, in the summer time and those were really fun.

EB: Those sound fun.

HC: The year between junior year and senior year, at the camp, we would have this try out. Each team could pick two people to try out and it was to be sent to different parades or sporting events to do a half time show. The one that I tried out for allowed me to go to London during my Christmas break my senior year and perform in the New Year's parade. It was really cool.


EB: That's really awesome. Did you enjoy that?

HC: Yes, I did but it was my first plane ride and it was my first time away from family. If I had gone somewhere before, it was to stay over at a friend's house for the night or my grandparents' house. So I went to a different country.

EB: All by yourself?

HC: Well with the other girls, but I didn't know any of them. I got pretty home sick, but I enjoyed the sightseeing and castles and such.

EB: Well that sounds awesome.

HC: Yeah. Back to other extracurriculars in high school, I was very active in the students against drunk driving chapter. I don't even know if they have those anymore but we had a very active chapter so I did a lot for that. And student council for all of the years so pretty involved in organizing homecoming and those events, which were always fun.

EB: Yup.

HC: And then any other events that were during the year. I did national honors 19:00society junior and senior year. I know I did other things, but I honestly do not remember them anymore. 

EB: So you said national honors society, which means you had a really good GPA?

HC: Yeah.

EB: That's awesome.

HC: It was primarily because a lot of my friends, my best friends, were guys and they were incredibly competitive. Of course, wanting to be the first female president, I wanted to prove that I was just as smart. But they were smarter than me. But I wanted to pull the same grade.

EB: Well that's awesome. So, you decided to go to UW (University of Wisconsin) Oshkosh for college. Want to tell me a little bit about that?

HC: Yeah, well I wouldn't have said if someone would have asked me junior year school, "where are you going to college?" I wouldn't have said Oshkosh because I always had thought that I would go to Madison (University of Wisconsin), since it felt right down the road. I had a good scholarship opportunity at Carthage 20:00College in Kenosha, which was going to pay more than half of tuition but when I ran all of the numbers out, it was still going to be more expensive than going to a state school. And did I really want to drive all the way to Kenosha. And am I a good fit with a bunch of really rich people from Illinois, who make up most of population there because my dad had gone there for a semester too. Which may be a part of why I wanted to go there too. So, I really didn't have a great senior year of high school. I was struggling with depression quite a bit, so I missed a lot of deadlines for applying to colleges but I was in a cap econ class, which meant that I was already a student at Oshkosh. So I was like, "let's just go to Oshkosh." I'm glad I did.

EB: Well that's really neat. I've never heard of the cap class. Can you explain kind of what the cap is?


HC: That is, I don't remember what it stands for anymore, but essentially you're taking a college class in your high school and you're getting credit both in high school and in college. But I didn't realize and I wouldn't have been okay with a B in that class, is that it starts your GPA (grade point average) for college. And so I went into college with the B grade point average even though, I think I had a 4.0 my first semester of college and I was so excited. Then I saw that and I was like "Noooooo! I don't have a 4.0 because of my econ class."

EB: I've never heard of that but I think that's very neat though.

HC: I don't know if they have those anymore or not.

EB: I'm not quite so sure.

HC: We had the cap class offering and the AP (advanced placement) classes.

EB: Well that's very neat. So that's what made you decide Oshkosh?

HC: That is, yes.

EB: Okay. Do you remember, kind of, your first semester and everything? You said that you had good grades but do you remember walking in as a freshman and how that felt?

HC: Oh yeah. So my first residence in Oshkosh was 242 fletcher and I remember 22:00the first day my parents brought me to school. Most of my siblings are much younger than me and we fit everything into a big ol' station wagon and if everyone took a few things, there were enough of us that it only took one trip getting me into the dorm room. Which was the only year that that ever happened.

EB: Yup.

HC: After that, you just accumulate more things so yeah. I was really mean to my siblings because I was super nervous. So everything that they asked me, I was really snippy, which was really snobby of me. I knew my roommate from some of the preorientations. We were in the university scholars program so we met at one of those orientations. So we decided "should we just be roommates?" because we liked some of the same things. Her name is Kimberly and we had fun. We had 23:00a very bare bones dorm room. We were by the book. She was as by the book as I was so there was nothing in that room that shouldn't have been there. 

EB: That's good.

HC: Well, you know. We were a good match if you put it that way.

EB: Well that's good.

HC: I thank God that he decided that night there would be a tornado warning in Oshkosh, so we had to all leave our rooms and go out into the hallways. I don't know if that's ever happened while you were there.

EB: Nope.

HC: You close your door and room, and sit in the hallways. That allowed me to meet friends that I am still friends with now because we were in the hallways and we were thinking "we just got dumped off here and maybe we are all going to die together." (unclear) So we met the neighbors Diana, Sherry and my friend Carrie that you've met.

EB: Yup.

HC: Carrie was the party one of our group. And so, that was a good way to meet some people.


EB: Yeah that's really neat. So that was going to be one of my other questions to you. Are you still friends with your friends you had gone to school with?

HC: Yeah. Yes. Carry is local and so is Diana. Well she is in Oshkosh. So I don't see them a ton anymore, which is ridiculous since we are in the same town. We should be getting in touch a few dates a year but Kimberly moved out to North Carolina, so it's more of a Christmas card exchange.

EB: That's still neat that you still stay in contact.

HC: Yeah. A couple of them were in my wedding and I was in a couple of their weddings.

EB: That's very cool. So what were your first impressions of Oshkosh, other than that crazy tornado drill?

HC: It was fun. When I think back, the campus seemed so huge, like so overwhelming to adapt to but now it I see it and it's so small. It seemed so 25:00much larger. For the most part, everyone seemed so nice. There were fun things to do in the residence halls. It just was a fun experience.

EB: So the residence halls. How long did you stay in them?

HC: I stayed in the halls until my very last semester of school.

EB: By choice? You just liked the dorm life better?

HC: I did. For the first year Kimberly and I were roommates and for the first semester of sophomore year but then it get more difficult for me to keep paying for college and I didn't want to have a bunch of loans. So I was part of the hall government and the hall director, Jack, had recommended that I try for a community advisor job so that would help pay for the cost of room and board. Then I would only have to worry about the tuition and the books 26:00piece. I did that from second semester sophomore year through, well I was there for four and a half years, so however long. So I guess that was 5 semesters that I was a CA (community advisor). So it was by choice. That last semester was me saying "I've had enough of being woken up in the middle of the night in North Scott Hall, to evacuate for fire drills." Night after night after night after night.

EB: Was it the kids pulling pranks by pulling them?

HC: It was, so I hit the brim. I got mono one semester and after that I could no longer handle the late night rounds and not being able to sleep for a full night after that.

EB: Other than getting woken up, did you enjoy being a CA?

HC: I did. I am a by the book person with the rules because rules are the 27:00rules and I was able to get to know a lot of people. I generally wanted to be more helpful than anything else. I didn't go looking to get anyone in trouble because that just meant that I had to do a lot of paperwork for the next how many hours. But if people were just plain stupid, like if someone would run out in front of me in the hallway with an open container or something and you're being really loud and obnoxious, then I'm going to have to write you up. I'm just following the rules.

EB: I think that's how it is today too. Only if you're being dumb. So what was your major?

HC: I had to think for a minute. My major is business administration and I emphasized, I call it majored, but I think it's an emphasis in human 28:00resources. For a while it was both human resources and finance and then I had a Spanish minor. 

EB: So what was your goal when you were picking those majors and emphasis? 

HC: I just had to have a major because I had already floated through all of the schools. I don't know what school I started with but it was the radio and TV film because I was going to be the next Barbara Walters. I thought that was a good path to Miss America and then to presidency. I was then on the campus radio station on a classic song spot during the very very early morning hours, like 4-6 am craziness.

EB: Oh.

HC: They just had a little spot in there, "Weather with Heather". Someone 29:00called in and said I have the worst voice ever and I needed to get off of the radio permanently so that was probably a good sign. Not going to be enjoyable in this particular field. Plus I could not pronounce classic composers to save my life so that was done. Then I thought teaching would be great but there was an overabundance of teachers so most of the advisors were saying "get out, don't pursue this one". Then I had no idea what I was going to do. My roommate Kim was like "just choose business, you have to choose something." So I was like "okay I'll choose business. That sounds practical." In between there, I was thinking about nursing but then I remembered that I pass out thinking about shots and things. So I went into business and you come to a part where you have to declare something. Now Kim was an HR (human resources) marketing major and so I figured I would do HR. Oh, I remember. I thought about doing accounting 30:00but the very first accounting class was when I got mono.

EB: Oh.

HC: While I was able to pass it because the professor was amazing. He had had mono in the service so he said to come into his office hours and we will get you through this.

EB: Yup.

HC: But I had thought, there is no way I could take five of these classes at once. I don't think you have to take five, but any more than one would have been too many. So I went into HR, and now here I am.

EB: So when you were at Oshkosh, did you participate in any extracurriculars?

HC: Yes. Let's dust off the cobwebs here. Well what I enjoyed doing the most, was the University Scholars Program, which was primarily just an academic association but they did a number of really neat events. So we went to a number 31:00of different musicals in Chicago. 

EB: Very cool.

HC: We went to see Les Mis, Miss Saigon. There's another one but I cannot think of it at the moment. They always set it up so we would go eat at a cuisine that went along with the musical.

EB: That's very neat.

HC: Yes, it was very cool. And it was only like ten bucks to do all of this. It obviously costed a little bit more than that but it was part of their budget so that was super neat. It was a great program to be involved in and it allowed me to meet a number of other kids on campus through that. That was awesome. I did student hall government the years that I was a resident and not a community advisor. That's when I met your uncle and I ended up getting married to him. He was in hall government for Donner Hall and I was in government for Fletcher Hall. So that's how we met. What else did I do? Oh, I was in, I am trying to think if I was just in Oshkosh Student Association just as a liaison from the residence halls or if I was on it directly. I don't 32:00remember but I went to the OSA (Oshkosh Student Association) meetings then. I did segregated fees committee for one or two years. That was very interesting to see where the additional fees you pay each semester go.

EB: Yeah.

HC: I get a little twerked out on some of them.

EB: Could you kind of explain that?

HC: Yeah. So there was a certain amount of fees. I feel like, the number that comes to mind is like $400, but I don't think that could have been per semester, it might have been per year that a student was paying. Then it would go into the segregated fees pool and from that it helped fund various clubs of Oshkosh Student Association and the football team, so it was like how would you divide up the money for all of them and what they're asking for with the amount of money available. So do you fulfill the certain requests from certain groups or 33:00do you give a partial request for everybody. So there was very interesting conversations on where that went.

EB: Oh I bet. Like if there isn't enough money, where do you send it to try and be fair and all of that. Was football a big thing?

HC: Football was the biggest money eater and it was one that, right or wrong, I probably had a little chip against sports, where they ought to be a little self-sustaining. The football team just wasn't that great over those particular years. It has had great successes and everything cycles but the thought was more so that since it is such a big drain on money and I knew that I wasn't the only one at school trying to get themselves through school. You know? I had to pay for the degree on my own and the challenge was that we are forced to pay these fees. You don't get a choice on it so how could they get put to the best 34:00use? So my thought was that football wasn't the best use but it got funded well.

EB: That's very understandable. So while you were at Oshkosh, what kind of student were you? I know you said that you had a 4.0 coming in or a 4.0 the first year, but how did it go from there?

HC: The semester that was the hardest was certainly the one where I got mono because I had to drop a class, econ, macroeconomics. My professor was fabulous, I just loved her dearly but I talked to her and she told me there was no way that I would be recovering from this. You're going to get an F unless you can get the medical drop. Thankfully I got the medical drop but I think that one I only pulled B's in my remaining three classes, which was actually kind of a feat because I missed a lot of school.

EB: Mono can do that to you.

HC: Getting my full semester in two weeks or three weeks, getting all caught up 35:00and then I remember I relapsed during my finals week. I remember taking my accounting exam and just being super super sick. But I pulled it off and graduated with, I didn't make it to suma cum lade, which I really wanted to but I was a little shy of that.

EB: What is that?

HC: It's the highest, well I guess I was more than a little off of that because I think that was a 3.9 (grade point average) or above, so I was magna cum lade. I think I had a 3.76 (grade point average).

EB: That's still really good.

HC: Yes, still really good. I remember standing in line for the graduation ceremony and the guy in front of me turned around and said "Wow, you must have been really serious about this whole college thing huh?" because we had all of the different things.

EB: Cords.

HC: Yes the cords. Thank you. The different color cords for being a University Scholar and for being a magna cum lade and all of the different things. He 36:00didn't have any of it. He said "Maybe I should have paid more attention! Maybe I should have gone to more classes and done more homework." And I said to him "Well I don't know. Did you have a good time?" And he said "Yeah I had a good time." And I said "And did you learn anything?" "Well yeah I learned something." So I guess we were both fine. We were both walking across the stage today graduating so that's the main thing. 

EB: That's very neat. Do you kind of want to talk about what happened after college?

HC: Yeah. So, I mentioned earlier that I had met your uncle over at hall government training. So after we graduated, about 6, we graduated in December of '96 but both had an interim class that we had to complete in January and about 6 months after that we got married. I got my first job out of college thanks to my roommate Kimberly who had applied with Mercy Maple Center of 37:00Foundation and a bunch of other places and had a lot of job offers. I was just not outgoing like her, so I was graduating with nothing lined up. When she turned down the job for the foundation they said "Do you know anyone like you?" And she said "actually yes!" We had lived off campus the final semester, so I got that job. That was my first job out of college and it was in Oshkosh and then that summer, I had only been there for about five months, and for my birthday present that year in '97 your Aunt Maria had brought to me the job description of an HR job from Nelco where she worked. At the time she knew she was terminal with cancer and she knew what she had to say to me because I am not 38:00a very, uh, I can take initiative but I have to be very confident in it. She could tell that I wasn't so she said "I will be eternally angry with you, if you do not apply for this job." Because I told her "Oh my God, this is such a great opportunity but I had just taken this other job and it's only been five months and I told them I would be with them for a foreseeable future. She, being the pretty practical person she was, said "Heather, you know you cannot break into the HR field." Especially during that time frame, it was not an easy field.

EB: Yeah.

HC: That's where she pulled out the "I will be eternally angry with you." card and I had to apply. So I applied. Thankfully she had such a solid character and work ethic too, so they got me in right away for an interview and orientation. I guess I interviewed well otherwise I haven't ever felt like I 39:00earned a job myself. Someone's always gotten it for me. But I have been in human resources ever since. So from July of 1997, I consider it to be my third full tenure with the company.

EB: That's awesome.

HC: I left a couple of times to stay home with the kids or I went from a full time to a seasonal type of role but I have been with them for the full 19 years since graduating.

EB: That's awesome. You're pretty lucky that you managed to keep a job for 19 years. That doesn't happen often.

HC: Agreed. Agreed.

EB: That's very rare.

HC: And I am very fortunate to be in a company that highly values human resources and we are part of the larger planning and strategizing group and we are a small enough of a company that I can have my hands in just about everything, which is nice.


EB: Which is awesome.

HC: And not to seem overbearing or from what I hear from the larger companies, HR departments can be viewed as.

EB: So you mention you have kids and a husband. Want to tell me a little bit about them?

HC: Yeah. So Matt (husband) also graduated in '96 and he currently works with Thrivent Financial. He has been with them since 1998. When we graduated college he was working for UPS (United Postal Service) and he was working with them during the massive strike that happened with the drivers and the loaders and such. I think that was '97 as well. It would be very interesting when he would drive in because being a part of management, he wasn't on the picket line. His otherwise friends didn't like him too much for that. That got old though because the hours are awful in what he was doing. From there he went to Humana with your mom. He was working in the prescription customer service over 41:00there and then got hired into (AAL?) at the time. I believe into underwriting services. Now he is in business customs analysis, managing contractors there. We have kids, two kids. Grace is almost 17. She is a junior at Appleton West High School and she is strongly considering going to UW Oshkosh in a couple years for college.

EB: That's awesome. Got to follow in the footsteps of her parents.

HC: She said that she has you there for your final year of school and she can have the best of both worlds. The world that I had of academics and the world that her dad had of having a lot of fun and getting to know anybody and everybody on campus. So the social aspect of it. And then Mitchell is a freshman at Appleton North High School and his thought on college is getting somewhere where it is nice. He wants to go to California or..


EB: Oh. Where the weather is nice?

HC: Yes, where the weather is nice. Oh yes, that's a good clarification. I could definitely see him wanting to be the beach type of person. So we will see what happens.

EB: I could see that too. Since your parents were really strict about college are you really strict, will you be very strict to your kids?

HC: No, I would say I am a lot more lax. Probably because I have seen a lot of people go to college and probably shouldn't have. It just wasn't their thing or they are just very talented, mechanically or in a way where they should have pursued a trade or a craft. We still need workers in those areas too but I think too many people are forced into the college arena even if it is not a good fit for them. I think it is a good fit for the both of my kids. I could see 43:00them wanting to go that route. I think people need to be a little bit more open to different paths of higher education because the cost is so astronomical and I am not sure if it makes sense for some people to end up with 6 figures of debt if they are not really sure what they want to do or what they want to do, doesn't require that type of degree. At the same time, I am a big advocate of higher education. I believe that everyone should have some type of it but we are all wired differently and so it's matching that up.

EB: I agree with that. How did college prepare you for the outside world? Did it have anything special that prepared you for adulthood?

HC: Yeah. I think the whole entire experience was a good way to help 44:00transition between, you're under someone else's rules in that household to now you're the boss of yourself. Making some of those "this wasn't the best decision" mistakes, when it didn't count too much. So good for that. I commented multiple times on how working on the business HR advisory board, which I haven't been as active in within the last couple of years, but early on was saying how much some classes had a lot of value that cannot even be described. One was the honors composition class with Dr. Klemp and he would literally have us pulling our hair out trying to write the best paper. My friend Diana, she wasn't even in the class, but she would stay up all night with me and I would pace the room and she would be jotting down, transcribing my thoughts as I was spewing them out trying to get these papers perfect. She 45:00would mark it up for me and Dr. Klemp would mark it up for me. You would write it until you thought, "okay that's gradable". I thought that was one of the best classes and I wish that everybody would have to take that rigorous of writing training, especially now that I am in the business world. Some people just do not know how to write at all. It's not their fault.

EB: Yeah. 

HC: You don't just know naturally how to do that. Well unless you're someone that just knows naturally how to do that but most people don't. There's a lot of rigour that goes into doing that. Now why can't I think of the other class. I had said that there was two classes. Oh. In my particular field, it's not required for human resources but a finance class was being offered at the time and risk management insurance. That was very useful to me and in my 46:00job because it handled the technical aspect of, how do you really deal with risk in the real world? What are the different components that go into insurance and my natural bent in human resources was benefits and so that class.

EB: So that taught you a little bit of everything?

HC: Yeah a lot. It's good stuff to know because every average person, you need to get car insurance, health insurance and home insurance.

EB: Definitely. Have you been involved with UW Oshkosh since you graduated?

HC: Primarily through the HR board with the college of business.

EB: Could you kind of explain that?

HC: It seemed like we were meeting annually when I had first graduated. A bunch of people had gone through the program and they were alumni, would get together with the different professors and for for the longest time Dr. F(?) was 47:00a big part of that and now I think he is doing something different in the college of business. Someone else is leading the advisory board but getting enough input on what the requirements are in order to get an HR degree or how many credits each thing should be. Very interesting where you can apply, what you see in the real world to what is being taught in the academic environment.

EB: Very cool. I was going to ask you before, you said that when your parents were younger, your mom had to drop out, how was it for you being a woman in college? Were there any struggles or anything?

HC: Â I don't think so. I don't feel like I was treated any differently than anyone. It felt like everyone was an equal when you got to college. That's 48:00probably one of the things that I liked most about college. No matter who you were on campus, everyone was treated the same.

EB: That's very neat. I know you didn't play sports but did they have a lot of women's sports? With title 9 and stuff?

HC: Title 9 was very big when I was in high school. So that was when we were starting to get more women's teams. Cheerleading, I don't like this but, cheerleaders had to cheer for both the girl's teams and the guys, which felt a little weird to me because I thought, "Well girls don't need to be cheered on and the guys do." But in college no. I think there was the same teams and Oshkosh had a lot of great sports. Men and women's gymnastics, men and women's diving, basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball for both teams. Boy's 49:00baseball was really good when we were there. I feel like the girls had a really good gymnastic team and basketball when we were there. 

EB: That's very cool. Do you have any advice that you would give current students in college or in high school? Anything in specific?

HC: Well, my experience in college was that many college students need to pay more attention to the academics then they did to socializing. I mean I was there during the great riot.

EB: Can you kind of explain that?

HC: Yeah. My understanding of what happened was that there was one of the house parties that got broken up and I think people got bussed downtown to the police department but other people started to hear about it and unfortunately 50:00people started to do a lot of damage to the businesses there and to the streets. I remember I told my residents, it must have been 8th floor if I was looking out over the, what's the street in front of the Scotts? Is that Elmwood?

EB: Yeah, I think so.

HC: Well whichever one it is, I remember looking out over it as some kids were on the light fixture as it was swaying back and forth because they were trying to take it down.

EB: Holy man.

HC: I mean they were being really destructive. So some of my residents were like "I wanna go down there." And I told them "Don't go down there. You will be guilty by association." And this was before smart phones so some were lugging around huge video cameras but I just remember thinking "how ridiculous". What a bad reputation that was going to give to all college students because of what they were doing. So that was just one of the evidences about how I wished more of my colleagues would pay more attention to their 51:00schooling. And maybe it was more so because I was paying for all of it myself and knowing that everything that I couldn't pay for then, I knew I would be paying for at some later point in my life. Most kids that have stuff being paid for them, not all but most, spent a lot more time socializing then with their studies.

EB: Yeah.

HC: Now the flip side of that was that I could of probably had a little bit more fun. But I really did have a great time in college but I could have probably relaxed a little bit more because you have your whole big amount of time after college to be serious and everything counts all the time.

EB: Yeah.

HC: I probably could have sat back a little bit. My biggest concern for college students these days is, how do you pay for it? Because it was so expensive when I was there and that was just a fraction of what it is now and 52:00that so I think it is very important that kids know what they want to do when they get there so they can be diligent about getting their credits and not switching schools five times like I did, ya know trying to find a major. I ended up being very fortunate to have ended up leaving in four and a half years but there isn't always the luxury being able to do that.

EB: Yeah.

HC: When you know that when you leave school you will be paying most of that off.

EB: So do you think kids nowadays should really focus on scholarships and stuff if the financial aspect just isn't there?

HC: Yeah or to consider doing school part time and working part time and not deferring it all into their loans. It's just the magnitude of those and it's only been 19 years since I've been out of school but just the magnitude. I left 53:00school and I felt sick just having $18,000 and now I think that you will leave with that in just one year's time now and that's even after paying for some things.

EB: Yeah. 

HC: Now that kids can get their health insurance through their parents longer, and not have to be a full time student, I think there is more flexibility. It may take a bit longer and you probably can't have as much fun but to do some working at the same time.

EB: Did you happen to work when you were in school?

HC: I did. Freshman year I went home for the full interim and waitressed. I made quite a bit of money doing that and I was able to pay for my full freshman year between working during the summer and saving up and working during interim. But after that I was having a hard time paying for everything as I went, so being a CA helped with the room and board expenses, so I was just needing to come up with tuition and books. Books at that time were incredibly expensive.


EB: They still are.

HC: Especially for the college of business because there was no Amazon option or anything like that so I remember a lot of my semesters where my books were well over $1,000.

EB: Holy man.

HC: Yeah.

EB: That is a lot of money.

HC: Yeah it was a lot of money.

EB: Did you use them at least?

HC: Oh yeah. Yeah I did.

EB: Good.

HC: Some were a beast to try and read but I was like oh my gosh, if I spend $500 on this thing right here, it better be good. 

EB: And you're going to use it and utilize it. So do you have any final thoughts or anything? Or do you have anything that you want to say?

HC: No, I don't think so. I think that college is a great experience and if a person is wired for it, make the most of it.

EB: I would agree with that. I would definitely agree with that. So thank you 55:00very much Heather Cambray for allowing me to interview you tonight.

HC: You're welcome.

EB: I was wondering if you would be able to sign this deed of gift, saying that I can use this.

HC: This area?

EB: Yes.

HC: Do you need to sign this on record?

EB: Yes. Thank you very much.

HC: Thank you.

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