Interview with Oscar Mireles, 04/24/2017

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Benjamin Lenerz, Interviewer | uwocs_Oscar_Mireles_04242017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Benjamin Lenerz: Okay so my name is Benjamin Lenerz, today is April 24, 2017. We are located at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, and today we are going to do an interview for the Campus Stories Oral History Project here at UWO (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh). To get things started can you please just state your name and the years that you attended Oshkosh?

Oscar Mireles: My name is Oscar Mireles and I was here from 1973 to 1978.

BL: Perfect, alright so we're going to start with a little bit of background. Can you tell me a little bit about the community that you grew up in and what your family was like growing up?

OM: Well, I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin and I have 11 brothers and sisters, so there's a big family. I'm Mexican American and I was born in Racine in 1955, so I went to Racine Horlick High School. Yeah, so I had visited Oshkosh. I had a 1:00couple older brothers that were going to school here so I visited in high school and I think that was, probably for me I think that was my sophomore year. That was the thing that inspired me to think about graduating and think about going to school. Before that I was you know, while I was smart I wasn't as focused as I needed to be.

BL: So you said you had 11 siblings, were you in the middle?

OM: I was number 8, but there were, between me and my older brother there was a 10 year difference. So a lot of kids squeezed within that 10 years. And then my youngest sister is 10 years younger and then there's only four of us behind me.

BL: Okay. So you mentioned that some of your family members attended Oshkosh and 2:00college too, did your parents or any adults growing up attend school?

OM: My parents were migrant workers so I think my dad had about a sixth grade education and my mom had about a third grade. But then here at Oshkosh, my oldest brother came here and graduated, my older brother Juan Ramon. My older brother, second older brother Carlos, came to school here. He attended a couple years and actually got a job working at the multicultural center for a couple years as a program advisor. And then my third oldest brother came to school here and he graduated from Oshkosh, and then I came here and graduated, and then I had a sister that came here. And she graduated from the University of Maryland, she went back to school. She came here, met her husband, and then they moved to 3:00Madison. And then they moved, he went to law school at American and then she ended up, once their kids were in school, went to get an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in education. Then my younger brother came to school here, but he was just here for about a year. So I think we have seven that went here.

BL: Wow. Do you think it all started with the oldest siblings going there?

OM: Yeah, yeah I think my oldest brother Juan had some friends that went to school here. I think he knew some people from that whole Black Friday thing, that was his contemporary, so he knew some people. I think he invited us to come spend the weekend and there was a lot of fun, a lot of parties. So I said, a lot of girls, sounds like not a bad deal.


BL: Alright so, backing up a little bit, were there any big values or lessons that family members taught you growing up or prior to attending school that you hold still today?

OM: Well, one, we used to wrestle, so I was a varsity wrestler. So one of the things I learned is one, its hard work, and two, that to compete you know, with wrestling there's nobody to blame. You can try to blame the ref, and can't blame the teammates; they're not there when you're out there on the mat. So I sort of learned self-discipline and sort of learned that you just gotta keep hanging in there and things will work out. I think being in a large family, you learn that either you communicate or you know, or communication is thrust upon you. Sometimes it looks like a little slap or a fist, but (you) just learn to just be 5:00aware and talk.

BL: So did you have any favorite subjects growing up, in early education or in high school?

OM: I was selected in junior high school, middle school, they took some test and they identified me as being pretty good at math. So there was about seven kids and we had one teacher. It was really neat cause we would learn something new each day and we'd kind of practice it a little bit, and then there was no homework and then the next day we'd learn something new and practice that. So you know, I got A's and I really liked it and then as I got further, the whole homework thing, I didn't really kinda get. So I ended up having a teacher in high school, in my trigonometry class, I was one of the only freshman in the 6:00class or sophomores in the class, and… she couldn't figure me out. She said you're getting A's on the tests and you're getting F's on the homework you're getting a C. And for the life of her, I said well I already know how to do this stuff, that's what the mastery is in the class. But at that time I didn't realize how, you know for some people, homework is important. And actually I ended up having her daughter, her nieces come work for me. They both worked for me, so I was able to get back to her that I did indeed learn her lesson and I understand the importance. At the time, you know, I didn't and it wasn't her fault.

BL: So were you going through fairly small schools then?

OM: I think Horlick had, I think our graduating class was like 700. So like 2500 7:00kids in the school. Our junior high school I think probably had like 6(00) or 700. So it was a little bigger.

BL: Yeah. So you mentioned that your siblings influenced coming to Oshkosh, was there anything else that influenced why you wanted to attend college here?

OM: It seemed close enough to home but seemed far enough. And the campus, you know was, at the time it had about 10,000 students, was just big enough where you didn't know everybody, you still could meet people, and small enough where you could still kinda get around.

BL: So what were some of your first impressions of Oshkosh? The school, like UWO, and Oshkosh as a city.

OM: Well I got here a little early, and it was like a week before school 8:00starting, and they had pretty long semesters, we actually started before Labor Day, so it was like 17 week semesters. So my brother knew a professor and they were having a conference and he needed some people to help with the conference. So luckily I didn't know anything about conferences, I didn't know anything about helping, but I was there for like a week and then I got a one-credit course and I got an A. So my first class, and I think I met like two girls too, so it kind of worked out pretty good. So it was my first kind of experience, you know I stuffed folders and…

BL: So kind of a class before your actual classes?

OM: Yeah, so I got like a one credit A, so I was thinking hey, 4.0, not too bad.

BL: Definitely, so then after that like first week or so when you started getting into actual classes…

OM: Yeah then I got into actual class and then I took a sociology class and it 9:00was a self-paced course, so it sort of reminded me of that one class where you just do the work and then you're done. So I kind of did the first assignment and then turned it in and then I think they gave you like a little quiz and then you'd get them all right and you went to the second one. So about 5, 6 weeks into the course I was done. And then the teacher, the professor, Doctor Remender who I just was texting over the weekend, he said well we'll hire you as a proctor. I said what's a proctor? He said well you just kind of help people, and you know you get paid and you can go around and help people with this course. I said well that doesn't sound too bad. And then plus you're done with the course now. And I was like hey, look I got two courses done, straight A's, I'm still 10:00doing pretty good. And then I became a proctor, so I got a job and then I got to meet everybody in the class because you're working individually but you couldn't meet anybody, but once I started working then you had to introduce yourself. And actually I'm doing something similar to that like forty-five years older.

BL: So do you remember anything else about like gen eds (general education courses) or, obviously that sociology class stands out, but were there any other ones that stand out or any other professors that stand out?

OM: There was a professor, Dr. Vincent [Lopresti?], and I ended up… probably the other thing that was a little different is we started before labor day and then after labor day we went back to Racine and I had two friends who had just gotten out of the military, and another friend who had graduated a year before 11:00me. And I said hey, this college stuff's pretty good, you guys should just come up and join us and start. So over Labor Day they all came up and we, you know they hadn't filled out the financial aid, they hadn't taken any ACT courses, but we were able to kind of get them in and they started. So I had a group of 8 to 10 friends that you know, we just hung out. Then this Dr. [Lopresti?], somehow they must have figured that we weren't very good writers, and he had just a class with me and my friends and he taught us how to write. I think I remember, they said the first time, what did you do over summer vacation. Over summer vacation I went drinking and going to the bars, I went swimming, and I went to a 12:00bunch of parties. I had a great time. So he says, yeah that's pretty good, he said, but that's it? I said, well that's everything I did, I went there and I did this. And he goes, well you should say more about it. And I said, well why should I say more about it, I got it right, I told you everything I did. And he just explained, you know you gotta illuminate a little more, you gotta add some more detail. So he worked with us for a semester and I just became a better writer. I just didn't really get that you could tell more, and I think one reason why I'm a published writer is, he had a lot to do with.

BL: So you mentioned friends coming from home, did you live in the dorms with these friends or did you meet a lot of new people in the dorms?

OM: We lived in Clemens Hall and the first year I lived with me and my brother, we were kinda roommates but we had been roommates for a long time so about 13:00halfway through the first semester I decided to get a new roommate. Which is, sometimes the best roommate is no roommate, so I ended up getting a single room and he had a single room and then we met a couple people in the dorms. You know I had a friend who ended up transferring to Notre Dame and he went to the institute of paper chemistry, so we used to play foosball at the union a lot. I was a pretty good defender, so we probably spent more time than we should, and I got pretty good at foosball, I was a pretty good, I still am, a pretty good foosball player. Then we had some other friends that we met… in town, but it wasn't until my junior year that we had a whole group, we kinda took over a 14:00whole floor, the second floor of Clemens and I don't think I ever talked to my RA the whole year, so I think he was afraid, I was at the end of the hall, so he was afraid to come all the way down there, so I kind of got left alone, which was fun.

BL: So would you say that your first few classes really shaped the student you were on campus or in Oshkosh? Do you think they influenced how well you did or what kind of student you were in general?

OM: Amazingly I graduated with a 2.89, but I still didn't take it seriously. I think I had a lot of fun and did a lot of extracurricular activities, so I probably would have gotten an A+ in that. I'm trying to remember… I had Dr. Martin in sociology and he taught a couple classes and he, Dr. Don Martin, and 15:00he kind of made it interesting and then he ended up, you know, kinda mentoring me when I had some things that I wouldn't tell my brothers and sisters, my brothers were here, I'd kinda go to him for some advice and he was pretty helpful. I can't remember if it was anybody else my first couple of years, should have probably looked at my transcript. Maybe that would have helped. Who else? There was Mr. Schumacher, he was in charge of Kolf, the rec program. So we played basketball and luckily I was almost as tall as I am now, but we were able to kinda figure out that if we, we kinda used to press teams, we'd pressure 16:00defense, and if we did that the whole game, we would quickly get to the lead cause we'd be making layups. And the teams would be, player to player they were 10 times better than we were. They were taller, and could shoot and everything else, but the problem was unless you practice a lot, you're gonna make errant throws, you're gonna dribble one too much. So they had a hard time believing that we would win most of the games, because we would just play defense and then we'd get up by 10 and then all you have to do is match baskets and then you win. So I remember playing basketball, we used to play kinda touch football in front of the commons right across from Clemens, I don't remember the name. So we did 17:00that and we did that fairly regularly. I remember going to the football games, so that was over at titan stadium.

BL: So the basketball was like intramural basketball?

OM: Yeah, intramural basketball

BL: Okay. And just basketball? Didn't wanna pursue wrestling at all?

OM: Well I did, I did pursue wrestling, actually I wrote a poem about it. I pursued wrestling, we had a couple of wrestlers in our dorm who were from Minnesota. And… Adam [Branbender?] was one of the names, and there's another guy, (who) was kind of a cocky guy, just a… hopefully I remember his name at the end of the interview. So they wrestled, they knew we wrestled. (They said) 18:00you guys should come out. So I have…

BL: Student ID right?

OM: the student ID. So I think I probably should have cut my hair before I went into the wrestling practice. And then I probably should have worked out before I went to practice at least once or twice, because there's regular shape and then there's wrestling shape. So I threw up twice, just because… but I lasted the whole practice. I think he kinda doubled the intensity of the practice because I was there, you know, nice guy. So I was able to wrestle one more time, but that's… the commitment of time and effort, I'm glad I did the one day, and my 19:00career was over. But I lasted one day. It was nice that they invited us in and let us participate.

BL: It was you and a couple other people?

OM: Just me and my brother.

BL: Alright so you mentioned going to football games a little bit. Do you have any big memories of football games or like the Oshkosh Titan atmosphere centered around…? Or even any sport, wrestling if you went to those.

OM: Well the football, we went to some games. There weren't very good so… It was more the social part of being there and you could bring in beer, or you did or something. So, we would go and we had fun. I don't know exactly what happened on the field, but we use to go a lot to basketball. The team was pretty good. 20:00They had a player… Ralph [Simms?] was a basketball player, and Greg [Holman?] was another basketball player, and Charlie White was another basketball player, and the forth name just flashed by, and yeah they were pretty competitive. And then there was a baseball player who was a friend of ours, [Dorian Boylan?], and he was a lefty, he was African American, he was from out East I think. I think he ended up going a little bit with the upper minor leagues in baseball. So it's not like I ever went to a game, but because he was involved, I knew about it, 21:00Oshkosh was a pretty good baseball team.

BL: So to get into you major a little bit. A sociology major am I correct? Were there any big things that helped you decide on the major, did you know right after taking that first class, that sociology was what you were interested in?

OM: Yeah, I think I took… I don't think I consciously said, well I think I'm going to major in it, I think I remember taking a modern social thought and a class on minority groups and something… Yeah so I just took a couple classes and, you know, I think at some point I sort of realized that you kinda have to 22:00pick a major. I think I had taken enough courses by the time I decided to pick a major, I had half the courses already. So I probably was in some courses where I probably forgot to do the prerequisites but they sort of let me hang in there.

BL: So you got involved working through the department (Sociology Department), did you get involved in the department in any other way?

OM: Dr. Peter Remeder was the guy who had the self-paced course, and then he had… he did this thing with his class called the Washington Heights Simulation. What it was was the first day of his sociology classes, it was like a regular class, kinda passing out the syllabus. Then all of a sudden, I and a 23:00couple of my friends, many who were African American, we would just bust into the room. I would just like literally kick the door open and then I grab him and say, hey, we're taking over this class, and he goes, you can't do that, and I said, well yes we can, we just did it. And then I would look for the biggest person in the room and I's say, you know I don't like the way you're looking at me. I'd put my figure right in his chest and I said, you know, you're going to listen to exactly what I want you to do. And he would look at me like, you're talking to me, and then my friends would grab him, I'd say, put him down in that chair and they'd put him down in the chair and then as soon as we got the biggest guy, then the rest of the people did exactly what we say. Then they would take us to… we'd go to, I think there was a room underneath the Albee pool, and things were all scattered and stuff, and we'd play music and they were 24:00called [Zino's?]. We'd give information (like) who had the lowest poverty rate, lowest unemployment rate, this is the information about you, and we would separate the people into four groups and it was designed to kind of simulate, because it was called Washington Heights Simulation, what it was like to live in a low income community. But I got pretty good at it so that the people weren't always clear that… was it a simulation or a reality. So I still had a couple people, four or five years later that, I could tell if they were in it, because I could feel them looking at me and then I'd say, hey Washington Heights. And then they go, Yeah-- I'm a nice guy, I'm not like that. Yeah so we did that for probably, every semester for the most of the time I was here, like three years. 25:00So it would be a chance to do kind of some role play and then help people out.

BL: Did you get involved with any other groups or organizations during your time at Oshkosh?

OM: Yeah, I was involved with the Multicultural Center. My brother… I think we had a student organization called, Chicano Unidos, and I ended up being the president, and my brother worked on campus. We'd bring musical groups, we'd bring theatre groups, we'd bring poets, and we'd always do kind of a community dance. So we would have people from our home towns come up and it was kind of a social thing but it was also a chance to kind of recruit student. We worked with 26:00a couple of high schools from my home town, and we would have a recruitment day. So kids would come spent a night in a dorm and have workshops and stuff. We did things like that. That was pretty fun, kind of interesting. Then a couple of people that I know ended up coming to school here because they came on that field trip.

BL: What was the racial makeup of Oshkosh like? Was there a large minority group attending or did it increase?

OM: I think there were, I wanna say, maybe thirty-three or thirty-four Latino student. And maybe one hundred fifty to two hundred African American. So it was still pretty small with a campus of ten thousand. I don't think it was much more 27:00than that. Maybe two fifty to three hundred, but it wasn't a lot. So yeah, I… I ended up pledging a black fraternity for… I lasted a week, almost lasted a week. So we did that. Then we created our own independent group. They were called the Spoons. So we literally had one of those little spoons you get from… that says D.C., so you know sort of spoons around our neck. I think the official term was, Superior People of our Nations. We were the spoons. So I think at certain times, when you went off campus, when you went to some of the bars, there would always be an opportunity for people to… not be as welcoming. 28:00So once in a while we would have to make sure people knew we were they and we weren't going to leave and we probably got into a couple of tussles but not to many. We were sort of undefeated in the tussle department. When you lose people aren't as bold.

BL: So working at the Multicultural Center, did you get to meet a lot of new people? Did you make lots of friends through that?

OM: Yeah, I ended up… I knew a lot of people on campus… I was at the union a lot, and I remember sitting in the union. We'd kinda hang out there and we'd be 29:00down stairs playing foosball. I'm trying to think if there were any… I mean later on I kinda got a work study job at the campus school. So I ended up working there. And then they [unclear] then they got me a job at some alternative school in town, with middle school kids. So I remember doing that… There was some (kind of) bilingual education grant, so then we were on some kind of committee, and they kinda flew us to this conference in San Antonio. I remember it was the first time I had ever been on a plane. That's when they had propellers, so it was a little different. I had never been in an airport… So 30:00yeah, I did, I got involved in some different things.

BL: So with your involvement in all those things, were you involved or communicated with faculty, other professors, or administration at all? Deans? Chancellor? Anything like that?

OM: Yeah, I mean I knew the Chancellor, Chancellor [Burmoun?], who was kind of a younger guy. I knew him kind of personally. I knew some of my professors. I think one time there was a class on Traditional Mexican Folk Dance. So I ended up taking that class. I also did a dance and performed. There was a Spanish professor, Dr. Ridell, so he was…so yeah I knew the department chair, J.C. 31:00Smith, the Sociology Department. I had…you know I knew people in Financial Aid, I knew people in the Counseling Department. I just knew a lot of people. So whatever I needed or if I needed to help somebody get it, I always knew people. So I was able to kind of make it work for me and other people.

BL: So being that you knew lots of people, it seemed like a lot of people knew who you were too. I saw a couple articles from the Advance Titan that you appeared in. Do you remember much about being like a public figure in a way? [Unclear]

OM: You know, in the 60s there were, you know, the United Farm Worker Union and Cezar Chavez. And then kind of what happened was there was a grape boycott, and 32:00then they kind of diverted the grapes into wine. So there was a gallo wine in particular. So we ended up speaking out to the student government, and I wrote a letter to the…one of the first things I ever had punished was a letter to the editor, talking about…it was right around this time, like spring break. We were organizing a conference on diversity, they didn't call it diversity then but, I said you know people are going to Florida to see who can get more tan than others, and I said, "You gotta think about what if you're tan all the time, I got a good tan." But yeah, I actually knew the editor, [Mary Ann Escovell?], she ended up working in Milwaukee, I ended up knowing her…a little later 33:00and…yeah so we kind of tried to educate people, you know. I think there was an awareness, and then they ended up not having these kind of wine parties. I think our big concern is that, anybody can do what they want, but they were kind of sanctioned by the union and kind of [unclear], so yeah sort of free wine, but the reason why we are doing it is kinda trying to circumvent things. Kind of speaking out and…I yelled more then than I do now.

BL: So there were definitely some cultural movements going on. Were there any other ones that you remember?

OM: Well yeah, I ended up… there was a multicultural conference in Atlanta. So 34:00me and one of my Latino friends, we went with I think eight or nine African Americans in a van. We drove to Atlanta. So I got to go to all the black colleges; Spellman, and a couple of the historical black colleges, and then we went to a lot of parties, and they had a [unclear] contest. Kinda learned a lot. I thought I knew some things, but there was a whole bunch I didn't know in terms of the cross cultural interactions. I learned there was a…it was like a long four or five days, since we were in a van, but we…I'm glad I went. I learned a lot. I knew some of the people, but six days together in a van you get to know people a little bit more than sometimes you want. But I think it was a valuable experience for me and in the work I'm doing now.


BL: Were there any national issues that you saw flow into Oshkosh or work its way through Oshkosh?

OM: I mean I think there was…there might have been a decision, the [Baky?] Decision, against the…I think it could have been the Texas Supreme Court, or something around Affirmative Action. You know I went to, I remember going to a concert, one of my first concerts, in Albee Hall on the gym floor. There was kind of a jazz, a pretty good jazz group called Weather Report that performed there. It was like one of my first concerts. So that was a pretty good time. What else?

BL: I mean we can get into some more social life stuff. Were there any places on 36:00campus, obviously you said the union you hung out at a lot, was there anywhere else that you hung out? Did you stay in the dorms?

OM: Yeah, I lived in Clemons Hall, and then I lived in Breese Hall, and then I moved out for two years. I lived in Clemons for two years, Breese for the third year, and then I moved off campus my kinda senior year. Let's see, I mean I knew the student council president people. I knew…oh they use to have something called Mingle and Tingle at the union. It was like either Tuesday or Thursday, but they would have pretty inexpensive drinks and it would start like at four or five. And we use to call it Mangle and Tangle because we got pretty… then 37:00there was St. Patrick's Day weekend. That was always…kink of a lot of fun. I remember one time the police were supposed to be in a big police bowling thing and then they couldn't go because it was St. Patty's Day. So they were pretty pissed.

BL: Were there any places that you remember hanging out at off campus? Any places that you liked to go?

OM: Well there was a place called Lucky's and then…Kelly's, we use to play skee-ball. We'd go to Kelly's… there was [beaners?], a shot and a beer. My brother ended up living in town, so we would go…is it South Park? I mean is it like South Park? Yeah I remember going there and having some picnics. My brother lived in town and then…on Lake Winnebago there was…I remember having some 38:00picnics and stuff there.

BL: Menominee Park down there?

OM: Yeah Menominee Park. With all of the lake flies.

BL: So did you have any quality relationships? What was the dating scene like for you on campus?

OM: Yeah, I mean I always had a girlfriend. The only problem is that sometimes I had more than one. Sort of a good thing…but some people don't think so. I know I first dated for about a year and a half with somebody named Jody, who lived in town. And then I dated a Native American woman for probably a good year. Then I 39:00dated another woman from Neenah for about a year. So I had some…I ended up dating someone and living with her right after college. So I had some pretty…they were all…the one woman was from Kiel. But no it was a pretty good time.

BL: So you stayed on campus most of the time…in the area. Did you go home often? Just holidays?

OM: Yeah, not really. It was pretty…I mean staying here…I remember one year, it might have been my second year in college. I met a friend and she invited me to spend the holiday with her and her children. You know, I just remember not 40:00going home. When you have twelve, you can miss a couple and nobody notices. That was the first time I hadn't been home for the holidays. But it was something different…so I thought it was a pretty different time. I think I would spend summers here. I remember my freshman year we had an apartment with a couple of guys. I think at least two never paid, but they still owe me the money. But yeah, so yeah, kind of growing up and kind of managing things. I had a pretty good time.

BL: So did you work over those summers while you were…?

OM: I think, I don't think I ever…I ended up always being either work study jobs or… I remember working at the commons, I remember getting a job there. 41:00And I remember I started around 7:00 when they closed and I worked til around 10:30. And then about 10:15 I thought about, I didn't come to college to kinda clean. So at 10:30 I kinda left a job and never went back. But, I had a chance to think about it and…I think, actually near the end of my time here, I worked in Gruenhagen. Before I…right around the time I finished I got a job as a director of a group called Citizen Advocacy, and they had a room in Gruenhagen Hall. So I was their director and the goal of that group was, students with 42:00disabilities, who had some kind of social kind of things, pairing them up with kind of volunteers. So we ended up having to organize a citizen advocacy day. So I had some friends who were hair stylists, would come and do people's hair. I think…if your hairs done ok then you don't stand out as much, and we just did a couple other things for the people. And then I was also…a telephone counselor, crisis counselor, for the…the Crisis Helpline of Winnebago and some other county. So, I was a volunteer and then they got a grant and then they hired us. So we were on the tenth floor of Gruenhagen. That's when it was…there was nobody else in the building. It was pretty empty. So I did that 43:00for about, maybe a year and a half. So I got some, kind of work experience stuff close to campus.

BL: So then towards the end of your time at Oshkosh, did you have jobs lined up?

OM: I was involved with the…bilingual education where they were working in, I think it was Omro. So they offered me, kind of a chance to get a master's degree in education, and a chance to…kind of work. At that time I was still a couple credits short form graduating and…I just kind of felt that it wasn't what I 44:00wanted to do. Even though it was an excellent opportunity. There was either one or two of the people involved, I just felt like…they were nice people, you know…weren't the kind of nice people I wanted to be around. Yeah, so I had that…I got a job with the United Migrant Opportunity Services, working as the employment and kind of case manager. So I got that not too long after… I had stopped going to school. There were opportunities.

BL: So you did leave school for a chunk of time, and then you came back and finished your degree?

OM: Yeah, I think technically about nineteen years…a social research class and a trigonometry class, even though I had trigonometry in high school, I never took math in college. So I ended up at MATC (Madison Area Technical College) in 45:00Madison getting a…and the UW (University of Wisconsin-Madison) taking a research class. So now I've had a college degree for twenty one years. So sometimes nineteen seems like a lot but not up against twenty one so. But there was still, there was a woman on campus who was still really good over those years, those nineteen years, trying to stay in touch and encourage me to kind of come back and finish. And would kind of work with me, and this is what you need. So, if it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't have finished.

BL: Were there big things that lead you to not finish those last two credits?

OM: You know, probably…I think a combination of just being tired with school 46:00and I think the…I think at the last…you know I went to the graduation ceremony, so it was just, like I said two classes, but sometimes you know if you're twenty, thirty classes and two classes sort of feel the same. Part just kind of finishing. The two times I tried a self-paced course, I tried a couple of other things at UW. So I tried, I took a couple classes at UW-Milwaukee…that you know poetry, that sort of helped my poetry but didn't help me be graduated. Then when I started my job at the school they say you have to finish. So having a deadline from work made a big difference.

BL: Did you have any big feelings or strong emotions when you left school that 47:00first time and then when you left it completed and then finished the second?

OM: I mean I still had a lot of friends that I went to school with, but people as I was around the fifth and sixth year, then people you know, then the seventh year, cause I would live with somebody, then a lot of people kind of faded unless they were from here. You just didn't run into them anymore. It kinda gave you a little signal, then the year after that I left town. So I went back home. So I think not being around kinda your age peers made me the difference.

BL: So do you stay in touch with any people still today?

OM: Yeah I kinda created a Facebook page a couple of years ago. And…yeah 48:00there's probably 15, 20 people I stay in touch with, kind of fairly regularly.

BL: Overall what were some of the big things you learned at Oshkosh or some of the takeaways you got from Oshkosh?

OM: I think…there was one other class I had. Dr. Jerome Saroff, S-A-R-O-F-F. He had an urban planning class, and downtown Oshkosh was thinking about kind of redeveloping their downtown and do they take out parking, kind of like State St…there's no parking on State St., expand the sidewalk. They started thinking about something like that. So that was our class so we had to go and talk to the city administrator, talk to the elders, talk to the businesses, kind of find out 49:00how they felt. I think it was really good to kind of get that real world experience, because, you know most of the rest of stuff is just in textbooks. He had us go out there, and then how to work in teams. So he was pretty good at pulling us together and getting us to agree on…and in our group there were people that do exactly what they were supposed to do and some people do exactly what they're supposed to do and more. A lot of people do not much more than nothing. So yeah, I learned a lot from that class.

BL: So is there any advice that you would give to current UWO students?

OM: Probably the best advice is, follow your passion, follow what you want to do. I mean I've been doing my job for twenty-three years as a school administrator, and we work with kind of the worst students. But, we kind of 50:00learned that if we do it one to one, they are actually all pretty nice. So part of it, you have to remove their environment, you remove their friends, you kind of influence them more than they realize, and if you work with them one to one and make a personal connection it makes a big difference. So we had over 3000 graduates, I interviewed every one, I know them, that makes a difference.

BL: What school was that again?

OM: Omega School. So I think what I did is that, I had enough different experiences here; at the campus school, at that alternative school, working with Citizen Advocacy, working at the crisis helpline, that I kind of, while I definitely have the administrative skills, I still wanted to have that kind of 51:00one to one contact. So even at the crisis center there was a couple people I saved from killing themselves. So that's a…kind of rewarding.

BL: So what are your thoughts of what UW-Oshkosh has become today? Do you see similarities from when you attended? Are there any major differences? And then how are involved are you with the college today?

OM: Yeah, I think where this building is situated, form pretty much…what's this last street called?

BL: Pearl Ave.

OM: Yeah so from pretty much the dorms and Kolf, you know that Pearl St. was always empty. You know, it was just right for development, and it took 40 years 52:00for that to happen but I think it's good. But it was like prime land to kind of do something, I think. I'd hang out there, it was very close but people didn't think of. It sort of felt like a back yard that you don't go into. So, not being a big nature person, but I sort of would hang out there and it was pretty private and secluded.

BL: Are there any other memories or big moments that you remember from Oshkosh that you would like to share?

OM: I'd say graduating, going to the ceremony was important. I think…some of 53:00the things that we did in terms of bringing students on campus, I felt that that was pretty good. Well yeah there was a couple of conferences that my brother and other people organized that…there was a state senator from Sheboygan, Carl Otte, O-T-T-E. There was one of the conferences over the weekend was about…creating a bilingual education program. And then the second program was about, how do we kind of serve migrants. We, my brothers, I was just there helping, but my brothers were kind of instrumental to bring people together, and both of them resulted in bills being passed by the assembly and the senate here in Wisconsin.

BL: Ok, and then are you still involved in Oshkosh?


OM: I've gone to some of the alumni things. I've stopped in a couple of times…I got a kinda leadership award with Wisconsin Literacy in Appleton. So I stopped in to see some people. My sister in law's parents lived here for a while, so I would come stop by over there. So I think those are the only people I know now that are here.

BL: Did you, overall, enjoy your time here at Oshkosh?

OM: Yeah, I had a wonderful time. Like I said it was big enough to have fun, and small enough so we knew everybody. It was a pretty good time, have really good memories. My friends form the dorms, and some of them I still stay in touch, and 55:00even some of the other friends who weren't part of my close network; my foosball friends, my urban affairs friends, my sociology friends, I have been able to stay in touch. I'm the kind of person that stays in touch. It takes work but…

BL: Well awesome. I'd like to thank you very much for coming in and talking with me. On behalf of the Campus Stories Oral History Project we would also like to thank you greatly. Without you story we would not be able to get a complete understanding of Oshkosh as a university through the years, so thanks again.

OM: Thanks a lot.

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