Interview with Joni Ledzian, 04/29/2017

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Amanda Galway, Interviewer | uwocs_Joni_Ledzian_04292017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Amanda Galway: Is this Joni?

Joni Ledzian: Hi Mandy, it's Joni. Yes.

AG: Is this a good time?

JL: Thanks for calling back. Mhm.

AG: Yeah, No problem. Ok, so it is April 29th at 11:31 and this is for the Campus Stories Oral

History Project

JL: Ok.

AG: Ok. So, I just have to say that you already signed your deed of gift, right?

JL: The what?

AG: The deed of gift that I sent you through email.

JL: You know, I am not that savvy I have not but I will or I can just verbally give you an ok.

AG: Ok.

JL: Yeah it's fine to use, to use it.

AG: Ok, alright so the interview is going to be about an hour long. That's okay?

JL: Yes.

AG: Ok. Then we're going to get started.

JL: Ok.

AG: Ok, so can you tell me about where you grew up?

JL: I grew up in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Kind of a small village that has grown up quite a bit. It's about half an hour West of Milwaukee.


AG:  Ok, what were your parents like?

JL: They were fairly strict, I was one of seven children.

AG: Wow.

JL: Yeah, they worked hard to, you know, worked hard to provide a house and food and all that stuff for us. So, yeah.

AG: Did they go to college?

JL: My mother went back then to a junior college and was a teacher and my dad went into the Army.

AG: Ok, was there a strong emphasis on education when you guys were growing up?

JL: Yes. Yes, it was all assumed that most all of us would go onto college.

AG: Did all of you for the most part?

JL: I had one sister that went for two years then decided to do something else but all of us went to college and beyond. I've got a brother that's an attorney 2:00and a sister with a master's degree. So, yeah it was very important to them.

AG: Ok, can you describe what the neighborhood you grew up in was like?

JL: Oh, it was wonderful. It was across the street from Pewaukee Lake so we would swim and ice skate and it was very friendly, everybody kind of looked out for each other and, you know, back then we didn't have computers and all those things so we were outside all the time. But, I had a lot of friends and neighbors that we would play all the time.

AG: That sounds great.

JL: Very safe neighborhood. Yeah.

AG: Is it similar to kind of where you live now?

JL: Yes. I would say it is similar to Whitefish Bay. I've got Lake Michigan is kind of across the street from me now. And real nice neighbors, of course we 3:00lock our doors now. We never used to have to do that but it's very similar. And you can walk, there's sidewalks all over so you can walk or bike anywhere.

AG: Ok, can you tell me about like the schools you went to when you were younger, like before college. So like your elementary school and high school and all those.

JL: Sure, we went to Pewaukee Elementary and it was a wonderful school. I don't know the size of it but, it was the only public school in Pewaukee other than I think a couple of Catholic schools. So, you know we pretty much knew everyone and then grade school I think started getting, I mean middle school, people started getting people from the surrounding towns and in High school mostly the people  from the Catholic grad schools would join us too. And I graduated with, 4:00I think there were about one hundred and fifty of us.

AG: Ok, what year did you graduate high school?

JL: 1971.

AG: Ok. Were you a good student when you were younger?

JL: I was a good student. I worked really hard, I was probably an average student. But I worked

really hard and took it very seriously

AG: Do you think your parents had anything to do with that?

JL: I think so, I think they instilled in us to do our best and to and that was kind of their expectation of us was to get, you know, the best grades we could. And I had some sisters and brothers that, you know, got way better grades than me but I think as long as they knew I was trying hard they were fine with that.

AG: What were your goals when you were little? Like, do you remember them?


JL: Oh Golly, I think my goals back then well, I knew I wanted to be a nurse from little on. And then I think most girls, I don't know if they do it anymore, but I would kind of dream about, you know, getting married and having kids. I knew I always wanted to be a mom, too.

AG: Ok, do you have children?

JL: Yes. I have three boys.

AG: Did you put a strong emphasis on their education as well?

JL: Yes.

AG: Did they go onto college?

JL: Yes, they all have their degrees and I have one son that is a Police Officer, one son that is a Special Ed teacher, and one, my oldest son, has his education and is using it to do Sustainable farming and some carpentry work.

AG: Oh, nice.

JL: Mhm!

AG: Did you have a lot of friends, like from high school that went to college as 6:00well? Or was that not very common.

JL: Oh Golly, I would say most of my friends did but I think a lot of the school as a whole back then, there were a lot that did not go. But my group of friends did.

AG: What made you choose UWO?

JL: I had gotten some good advice from a women that was a nursing instructor, and this was probably when I was seventeen years old and she was a friend of someone that I babysat for. The lady was kind of like my second mom. And that was this instructor and she said "Well if you were my daughter I would recommend you go to a four year school because that seems to be the way of the future." And I am glad she said that really was back then. A lot of people had just the three year degree.

AG: Ok, Oh, sorry what?


JL: Oh, I was going to say I started out going to Eau Claire. I went one year to Eau Claire.

AG: Ok.

JL: And there were like four hundred of us trying to get into ninety positions and so it was very intense and I did not get in. So then I decided to transfer to UW Oshkosh.

AG: Was there, was Eau Claire's program more competitive than Oshkosh's?

JL: I would say there were more people trying to get in. I don't think there were as many at Oshkosh trying to get, I don't know what the numbers are but I know Eau Claire I think was a smaller program.

AG: Ok

JL: And I think Oshkosh, they might have just started their four year one recently too, so I think Eau Claire was maybe more established or well known.


AG: Oh, that would make sense.

JL: Mhm

AG: So, was like the nursing program one of the most important decisions in you deciding to come to UWO?

JL: Oh yes, definitely.

AG: Ok, what were your first impressions of UWO or the nursing program or anything like that?

JL: Let's see, I think the first impression of college, you know Eau Claire has a beautiful campus and it just seemed smaller and I had come from a smaller town I think it was easier to kind of fit in maybe than at Eau Claire but I had several friends that also had transferred to Oshkosh. Not in nursing but, so at least I was, I knew people and once I knew that I think that I was fine and impressed with the school itself.

AG: Do you remember anything about your first weeks or your first semester at 9:00the school?

JL: I think, well I didn't have to worry as much, I wasn't as homesick as I had been when I went to Eau Claire. That was really hard. And it was closer to home, it was only about an hour and a half from home. But I think the friend that I had transferred with from Eau Claire knew people so and we had great people from our dorm so it really was an easier getting used to than my freshman year. That's for sure.

AG: What dorm did you live in?

JL: Oh Golly, what, name some of them and I will, I'm thinking of Oakridge but that was Eau Claire… it was a co-ed one.

AG: Ok

JL: What, do you remember what, I'm able to remember it and now wouldn't you 10:00know I can't! What was…?

AG: There was like, Webster,

JL: No, it wasn't the high rise.

AG: I think there was Nelson.

JL: No it wasn't' that. I think it might have been next door to, near Nelson.

AG: Ok.

JL: Ok. Yeah. Sorry, I can't remember that.

AG: Oh that's ok! Did you live with your friend that transferred from Eau Claire with you?

JL: Yes.

AG: Ok. What was your roommate experience like?

JL: My sophomore year at Oshkosh was great. We were good friends and we did a lot of things together but then once you get to know people in the nursing department they become your friends and social people, too.

AG: Ok. Did you like living in the dorms?


JL: Yes, it was fun.

AG: Ok, did you do it every year you were there?

JL: No. Just my first year which would've been my sophomore year at Oshkosh and then I lived off campus for two years.

AG: Ok, do you remember where you spent most of your time on campus?

JL: I would say at the library probably.

AG: Do you remember any classes, like really well or any professors?

JL: Oh, no one distinctly. Not that first year really. I remember more once I got into the nursing school.

AG: Ok, do you remember any of their names or what classes they taught?


JL: I remember there was Mary Barker was maybe the assistant professor or something. I can't, I probably should've reviewed those but I really can't remember too many of them.

AG: That's fine. In 1974 do you remember when Oshkosh like got rid of the official finals week?

JL: Oh Gosh, you know what vaguely I do.

AG: Do you remember how you felt about it?

JL: I would think I was probably relieved.

AG: I bet!

JL: Mhm. I am not a good test taker.

AG: Oh, me neither. Do you remember the St. Patrick's Day celebrations?


JL: Oh gosh yes.

AG: Can you tell me a little bit about them.

JL: They were, it was crazy up there. It was just depending on what day of the week it was, the people started, you know, celebrating and having some fun early in the morning. And a lot of people would cut classes I did not do that. And then I think they'd even have, I don't think they even have St. Patrick's day now I think it's over the spring break or something I  had heard since it would get so crazy. But you know, it was a lot of fun.

AG: Ok, so you participated?

JL: Sure.

AG: Ok. Do you remember when a tornado hit Oshkosh?

JL: Yes I do. Mhm! And I was just coming back from Florida. I think it was not our spring break maybe a day or so before. And then came back and a friend who 14:00had lived off campus I think the whole house was kind of leveled except the toilet was left, so.

AG: Oh, wow.

JL: Mhm.

AG: Did it affect campus very much?

JL: No I don't remember that.

AG: Ok. Did you go to many sporting events or on campus events or anything like that that you remember?

JL: I went to some football games and I think occasional other sports. But no, I did not do a lot of that.

AG: Were you involved in any activities?

JL: Not really. Like I said I really kind of studied most of the time.

AG: Ok what did you like to do for fun on and off campus?

JL: Oh Gosh, well I look back now and I wish I could've had more of like a 15:00healthier lifestyle into walking and running like I do now but I think back then it was just kind of working hard and kind of playing hard and you know just being with friends and going on some weekends we'd go visit kids at other campuses or at their house and other stuff too. I remember back then kind of a craft. I would do knitting and make some things so that's about it.

AG: Ok, do you remember any major campus issues that went on during the time you were there? Anything that stood out?

JL: Yeah, not really. It wasn't like Madison where there were people protesting 16:00and things like

that. I would say it was a pretty calm campus.

AG: Do you remember what the racial climate was like? Like were there a lot of minorities that went there?

JL: I do not think there was a lot of minorities there. I don't remember having any friends that were in the minority.

AG: Ok, I wanted to ask you too, in the nursing program was it more men or women? Or was it pretty equal?

JL: Oh more women.

AG: Ok, that's what I expected.

JL: Mhm, yeah.

AG: Were there any men?

JL: You know, I think a few.

AG: Ok. Were there a lot of nontraditional students or was it mainly just people 17:00that came out of high school?

JL: Mostly people that came out of high school.

AG: Ok. Can you tell us what years you went? I'm sorry I forgot to ask that.

JL: Well I went to Eau Claire '71 to '72.

AG: Ok.

JL: And then '72 to '75 in Oshkosh.

AG: Ok. Did you work in nursing after you graduated?

JL: After I graduated from college?

AG: Yeah.

JL: Oh yeah. Mhm.

AG: Ok. Do you feel like Oshkosh prepared you pretty well to do that?

JL: Yes. Yes.

AG: Ok. What kind of nursing did you go into?

JL: Well my first two years I went in at St. Luke's hospital in Milwaukee. I went into a Med-Surg floor. And I just thought I wanted to get just an 18:00all-around experience. And then my thought was to go into labor and delivery. And then when I decided after two years that I thought I was ready to do that I transferred to St. Joe's which is a big OB hospital in Milwaukee. But they didn't have any openings so they suggested how about going into an operating room until an opening comes up. So I did that and ended up really enjoying operating rooms so that's been a lot of my career has been in that. So I never, that's one area I did not get into was the OB. I've done the neonatal ICU but I did not get to labor and delivery.  

AG: Ok, are you still working in nursing currently?

JL: You know what, I just retired probably about a month ago as the parish, the last 15 years I've been a parish nurse at Fox Point Lutheran Church and I kind 19:00of stepped down and am now like a parish, I'm still doing ten hours a week as a visitor but I've kinda given up my nursing part of it.

AG: Ok, do you remember how you felt when you finished college?

JL: Oh Gosh, I would, I think I was really excited. To get going, make my own money and move to, I had moved to Milwaukee with friends. So yeah, it was really an exciting time.

AG: Were you the first one of your siblings to graduate?

JL: No.

AG: Ok

JL: I had three others before me.

AG: Ok, do you remember what the job market was like then? Was it easy to find a job or difficult?

JL: It was pretty easy. I think Luke's was the big name in Milwaukee and there 20:00wasn't a problem getting a job there. You know, that was the thing when I go back to, at Eau Claire I remember people saying "Oh if you graduate from Eau Claire you can get a job anywhere." Well, if you graduated from Oshkosh you could too! You know, it wasn't really where you went to school.

AG: Sorry, hold on I'm looking for a question.

JL: That's ok. That's ok.

AG: Did Oshkosh help you find your job or was it you kind of you graduate and then you're on your own?

JL: You know what, I think we did it on our own back then. And I think it was before I graduated that I had, you know, the job offer because it seems like 21:00once I graduated within a couple of weeks I started working. So, I don't remember but I think it was us doing the interviewing and the contacting.

AG: Ok, did Oshkosh help you prepare for participating and being a part of a community?

JL: The nursing school or the community of Oshkosh? I don't know if I quite understand that.

AG: I guess just like being a part of your outside community and maybe your nursing one did it help you learn to be a better community member?

JL: You know I think there was a degree that a college kid is aware of that. I think, you know, you're just so young back then you don't, I certainly don't 22:00think now like I did back then. You know, it just wasn't, your friends are more important then but the community kind of itself.

AG: Did you do any volunteering in nursing or in any other type thing while you were in college?

JL: I didn't do any volunteering but I did, you know, hold down a work study program and I had, I waitressed then. Because my parents weren't able to help pay for college, so I took out loans and then I had work study and then I worked extra. So, I think between that and studying hard that was pretty much my time.

AG: Did you work on campus then?

JL: I worked, no, off well, yes. On campus I was kind of like at one of the dorms I was like a receptionist or something and then off campus I was 23:00waitressing right, you know very close to campus because I didn't have a car or anything. I just kind of walked there.

AG: Was it pretty common for people to not bring a car to school with them?

JL: I would say yes.

AG: Ok, did you have a lot of friends that were working while doing school too?

JL: I would say my direct friends, not as much.

AG: Ok, do you remember what it was like trying to get into the nursing program? Because there's so many, like, prerequisites that you have to do now and you have to have CNA experience. Do you remember if you had to do any of that?

JL: Oh Gosh, I, you know I'm trying to think if I would have at some point, maybe worked between one of the summers of high school and college worked or 24:00volunteered, might have been like a candy striper where you help out at a nursing home. I don't know if they really have those anymore. So, you know I think those things certainly helped but I don't think I was prepared to have to work as hard to get in. You know, the competition back then wasn't really, again I think that was when they started the four year program

AG: Ok

JL: You know, so I'm kind of forgetting what your lead question was. But…

AG: Did you have to have, like, a really high GPA or anything to get into the program?

JL: I think back then it was probably not that high. Like a 3.2 and this is 25:00where when I was talking to, I called somebody a few months ago because I had transferred so I had met all the requirements and I think I had good, you know, recommendations. I met the requirements for grade point and I did not get in initially. And I was devastated I was like "Oh what do I do?" and you know, I just thought it wasn't fair. I worked just as hard, because I transferred I was put at the bottom of the list. So, I had made a phone call to the dean at the time and my older sister, Linda, and I drove up probably the next day and met with her and I kind of argued my point, that you know I've always wanted to do this, I've worked hard, and you know, she at that point didn't say anything and then the next day she called me and I got in. So I really do think that's why when I contacted the dean's office and then they set me up with this that was 26:00really a key part of me being a nurse was that believing in my wanting to be one rather than just looking at the total grades or whatever.

AG: Yeah

JL: So that, yeah. I'm just so grateful for that.

AG: That's great. You said you always wanted to be a nurse since you were little?

JL: Yes.

AG: What made you, like, find that out?

JL: I don't know if it was my mother, well because I've always been, you know, I'm the middle child and I kind of take that as kind of my role, take care of everybody and things and I'm a sensitive person so it just seemed like a good occupation to do. And I think my mom always, she said it too, she always wished she had been a nurse. So when I was young I thought "Oh that's what I'll be" you know? I can't remember that but yeah from little on I wanted to help people.


AG: Ok. Have you had much involvement with UWO since you've graduated?

JL: Not really. I have gone up there a couple of times to meet friends for a game or something but no I haven't and in fact I would love to come up and tour the campus because I think it's all pretty new now. Isn't it? The nursing school or…

AG: Yeah they just redid it like last year I think.

JL: Yeah so I'd like to come up and take a tour of that.

AG: Ok, what was the nursing building like when you went there? Like now they have all the fancy simulation dolls and all that stuff. What was it like for you?

JL: Oh Gosh, no. Ours was pretty much hands on, which I liked. Yeah, we were 28:00ahead of that , we might have had the, I just can't even remember if it was CPR back then or if we had the [unclear] but it was pretty different than it is today.

AG: Ok, do you remember taking any Gen-Ed's that weren't in nursing or did you do most of that at your other school?

JL: Any classes that weren't nursing?

AG: Yeah.

JL: Ok, I probably did a lot of it at Eau Claire but I'm sure there were some that I had to, prerequisites that I had to take too.

AG: Ok, and you said there weren't any classes that stuck out in particular?

JL: No, I remember, what was it back then, biochemistry or something where we had labs and things. I enjoyed that but no nothing really stuck out until I got 29:00into more of the hands on nursing.

AG: Ok, do you remember how many people were in the nursing program when you were in it?

JL: I want to say, maybe a little over 100 or so?

AG: Ok! That's bigger than it is today.

JL: Oh really?

AG: Yeah I think today they accept like 80 people?

JL: Oh ok. Well yeah I'm not positive of that I can check with another friend and get back to you if you want but my guess would have been about 100 because Eau Claire was only 90 and I guess I thought Oshkosh was bigger but I could be wrong. I don't know.

AG: Do you remember going to Homecoming or any of the big events that you want to talk about?

JL: Homecoming, probably the games and stuff. I didn't join a sorority or 30:00anything like that so I didn't do the dances or on campus things like that.

AG: Ok, did you date while you were at UWO or have any relationships?

JL: I did date, yeah. I did, but you know back then it wasn't so much going with one guy to one thing, you know you kind of meet up at the bars or you'd go with groups and do some things or have parties with groups but yeah my junior and senior year I dated for senior year especially just a couple of guys on one to one.

AG: Ok, you said you haven't really taken a big tour of the school since--

JL: No. No.

AG: Ok, what is some advice you would give to current college students and current nursing students?

JL: Oh Gosh, I would now looking back at my age of sixty something I would look 31:00back and think oh, Gosh do the things that keep you healthy, you know, mind, body and spirit. In high school I was a cheerleader, I was very active and I just didn't keep that up. And you know I hardly went to the fitness center and things like that. Now, I just, and it was mostly just that college time, and you know maybe a few years after but afterwards, now physical fitness is very important to me so I think whether you're a college student or nursing student you've got to get your exercise and, you know it helps with the stress and all those types of things. And you know, I guess now I look back too and I think do your best but you just can't, if you want it bad enough sometimes I just think 32:00if it's meant to be it's meant to be.

AG: Ok, I think that's pretty good advice!

JL: Mhm!

AG: Do you know, ok so there was a fitness center on campus?

JL: Yes.

AG: Can you tell me about what it was like? Because I think ours was just rebuilt a couple of years ago.

JL: Oh, Ok. Yeah, ours was like I said, I didn't go there too often so I think back then it was fairly, you know, I want to say it was sort of state of the art and a nice center.

AG: Ok.

JL: And again I think back then maybe guys went more than girls did too. You know it's just a different time now. Girls are participating in a lot of that stuff.

AG: Yeah that's true. Do you have anything else like any stories that you want 33:00to share?

JL: Oh, I, let's see, I think my biggest one was that dean [Store?] or whatever her name was that has since passed away. But, to me that was just key, and that was you know, now being a parish nurse I'm fairly religious but I almost think that was God's way of saying "Ok, how badly do you want this? What are you willing to do for it?" and I just think, you know for what was I, 20 years old or so, you know, your convictions really matter. If you really think you want something and can do it you've got to, you know, be your own advocate.

AG: Yeah, I agree.

JL: Mhm. And I remember when I was in Eau Claire, I think it was Eau Claire, 34:00maybe Mary Barker was from Eau Claire, I did not care for her. But she was one that sort of said to me "You know maybe you aren't meant to be a nurse" you know, because I am not a good test taker and when I graduated, and I studied pretty well for the boards and back then you had to register and you took it all, it wasn't computerized or anything. You'd have to, it was only offered maybe twice a year and you'd have to wait a couple weeks to get it but it was a big, very stressful. But, I just felt going in there " Ok, I've done all that I can do to study" and I went in there with kind of a calm thinking, you know I think I'm going to do well and if I don't then that is what's meant to be. But, I think sometimes, you know, with teachers and stuff and I don't know how it is to get into college, or programs anymore, I just hope they don't look strictly, 35:00or pretty much at, you know, your grade point average, because there is so much more that goes into, you know, a person that could do it but maybe doesn't necessarily have the highest grade point and--

AG: Yeah I agree.

JL: Mhm!

AG: Would you encourage other kids that are looking for colleges to go to UWO?

JL: Yes, I thought it was, you know I liked the size I think the community supports the college and yeah, I thought it was a great fit for me.

AG: Alright, well if you have no other comments or anything you want to say, then I guess I can let you go on with your day.

JL: Ok, no I don't think so! But I look back on, you know, Oshkosh very fondly. 36:00It's a place that helped me grow and helped me get to where I am today.

AG: Well, I appreciate you interviewing with me and giving your interview to the school to use for other students.

JL: Sure.

AG: Well that's everything.

JL: Will this be, like where do you go from here with all the interviews? Will there be a book or

anything or is this just a class project?

AG: It's a class project that will go into the school archive to be, like, kept.

JL: Oh ok.

AG: But, I don't know what else they're going to do with it. But I will send you a copy of the interview and the transcript and our class presentation if you would like.

JL: Oh, great. I would love that!

AG: Ok, I can make sure to do that then!


JL: Ok! And what year are you, Mandy?

AG: I'm a sophomore.

JL: Sophomore, ok. So are you in the program then?

AG: Yeah, I'm in the Kinesiology program, actually.

JL: Oh kinesiology ok, that's what my older son graduated with. The one that's farming now.

AG: Oh Ok!

JL: Yeah, so, and are you from Illinois? Did I see that on your phone or…?

AG: Yeah, I am from Illinois.

JL: Oh ok, so how do you like it up there?

AG: I really like it, it's, I'm from like, Northern Illinois

JL: Oh ok.

AG: So it's like I'm basically in Wisconsin anyway.

JL: Uh huh, Oh good.

AG: So it was easy, a pretty easy transition for sure.

JL: Good, yeah. And I just think the size is nice.  Well, I will have to come up there and check it

out again!

AG: Yeah, I would love that! I could give you a tour if you want.

JL: Yeah, oh yeah that'd be awesome! So, Ok well thank you and it was nice talking to you! And good luck to you!


AG: Well thank you!

JL: Ok, bye bye!

AG: Ok, bye.

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