Interview with Stephanie Briggs, 04/25/2017 (Transcript Only)

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Haylie Olson, Interviewer |
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

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Haylie Olson: Hello, my name is Haylie Olson. Can you tell me who you are please?

Stephanie Briggs: Yes, my name is Stephanie Briggs. I attended UW Oshkosh between the years of 1995 and 2002. I completed two degrees, so my first was between '95 and '99 and the second was between 2000 and 2002. My last degree was a master's degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Affairs and I currently I serve as one of the area coordinators for the Department of Residence Life at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

HO: Awesome. Alright, well thank you for speaking with me today. The date is April 25th, 2017 and the time is about 3 in the afternoon. I am conducting this interview over the phone at the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center here in Oshkosh for the Campus Stories Oral History Project. Alright, so Stephanie, can you please tell me where you grew up?

SB: Yes, I grew up in a very small town called Fremont, Wisconsin, which is approximately, I would say about like a half hour to thirty-five minutes, a little bit north and west of Oshkosh.

HO: Oh, cool. What were your parents and other family members like?

SB: So, I grew up with my mom and my dad, and you know we grew up in a very rural area. Both my parents grew up in the very rural area where I was raised. Very nice people, very hard working people, very humble people. I grew up in what I would call the lower to middle class family and I had one sibling, a younger sister by about two years. Her name is [Kirstie?].

HO: Awesome. Did any of your other family members attend college?

SB: My dad participated in a program at the Fox Valley Technical College. I don't quite remember what it was but I think it revolved around something with printing. My mom did not attend a college. My sister did complete a program at Fox Valley Technical College, too, and she also did one year, oh sorry, one semester at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. But she did not continue or complete a degree there.

HO: Okay. So, did your family emphasize education at all? Or was it kind of just… not really?

SB: Yeah, you know I- we didn't really talk much about it. I, you know, knew that when I was in school, I think K through 12, that I got the impression from my family that you're going to go to school and you're going to do the best that you possibly can. But my family and I didn't really have many conversations about what I wanted to be when I grew up or what I wanted to do even beyond high school. I mean, I think some things briefly probably when I got into my junior or senior year of high school when it became more real that I would need to make a decision on what I wanted to do. But I don't really remember my family initiating any conversation, although they were supportive when I did talk about school. I was a first-generation college student so my family really didn't know a whole lot about what college was like and I think they were happy to support me in going but couldn't really speak to me about what it would be like.

HO: Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. Were there any lessons or values that were kind of emphasized in your family besides like school?

SB: I think just, you know, some of the things were being honest. I think that that was a big one. To work hard- I remember one time when I was in high school I had a part time job and I quit it, because I didn't like it and I did it before I had anything else and I remember my parents talking to me about like this is just something that you never do. You might not like what you're doing, but it's a job and your job is important and until you find something else and get yourself established somewhere else you commit yourself to that job, you don't just quit. So, I think that working hard at things, and being as helpful as you can to others. I mean, I know that they might not have spoken this but I saw this role model go out for me and my family, that you really- you help others. You know, that you're going to be as supportive as you can and especially you're going to be a good neighbor, you're going to help people out when they need help, you're going to do things that are contributing to the greater good of those who live with you and your community- and your family and your community so I think that that was another big value that was role modeled for me.

HO: Very cool, that's awesome. Alright can you tell me about the schools you attended? Like your elementary, middle, high school.

SB: Yes. I started school in kindergarten at the Fremont elementary school and then between second grade and third grade- so when I started third grade I was transitioned to the Weyauwega elementary school. I then spent the rest of my elementary, middle school, and high school years in what was called the Weyauwega-Fremont high school. And it was a school that supported a lot of small town, local communities, you know, in and around the Weyauwega and Fremont area and it was- my high school was approximately 400 students and when I graduated from high school I graduated with a class of about 86.

HO: Oh, okay. Alright, were there any teachers or subjects that kind of stood out to you in school?

SB: Any particular part of school? Like high school?

HO: Yeah, anything, I guess.

SB: Oh, that's okay. I'm trying to think. When I started high school, I actually was a part of an explorer's program with the local hospital, I think it was called Riverside Hospital in Waupaca. And I must have taken some kind of an assessment when I was in 8th grade that indicated that I was best suited for a career in medicine. I spent my high school career really preparing to go pre-med and I'm taking all of the advanced math classes and advanced sciences. Yet interestingly enough, my favorite classes were the English and the literature and the communication classes. So, yeah, it was kind of interesting- I think I wasn't necessarily on the right track. I did well in school, but I don't, I think that I was kind of following the direction that was provided for me and not necessarily following what it was that I was really passionate about.

HO: Oh, wow, that's very interesting. So, kind of going along with that, what were your, like, goals when you were younger? Like did you see yourself going to be a nurse or doctor or was it kind of different?

SB: You know, when I was a kid growing up, I felt like every year or less than a year I wanted to be something different. I envied actually a young man in my class who knew early early on, he's like "I'm going to be a doctor" like in elementary school and to this day, he's a doctor. He did exactly what he'd…

HO: Oh, my gosh!

SB: Yeah it was really cool! I'm like, you're [unclear] like that, why can't I know you. My whole growing up, it was constantly changing for me. I mean I could list I think I even have a very vivid memory of like the order of the things that I wanted to be. I remember the first thing I wanted to be was a singer, and that was probably when I was 3, and, you know, I wanted to be a teacher, and then I wanted to be an architect, and then I wanted to be an astronaut, and then I wanted to be an archeologist, and then I wanted to be a photographer, and then I wanted to me a meteorologist, and yeah. So, by the time I actually got to, like I said, 8th grade when we were doing this assessment, and it came back saying, you know, your best fit is for a career in medicine, I thought, "Okay, well good. I finally have an answer. Now I know what I'm supposed to do." So that was I think kind of interesting to me. I didn't really… I remember, and it's funny because I remember being little on loving things that delved more into the arts. I liked writing, I liked drawing, I liked- one of the things that I always wanted to do was write a book. I still haven't written a book. But I'm still, I'm telling myself I'm going to write a book someday. So that was I think a goal, or a dream maybe, that I had at one point. But yeah as soon as I hit high school, I was kind of on this direct path towards preparing myself for a career in medicine.

HO: That is awesome. So, when did you begin to think about college?

SB: Probably when I was in 9th grade, freshman year, when I started this explorers program because, you know, I kind of was like "okay, you know, I'm going to go into medicine and that means I'm going to have a long career of education and this is going to mean several years of college." So, I kind of started prepping myself then and I think by my junior year of high school things were becoming much more realistic with respects to applications to various colleges, where am I going to apply, what am I going to do. By the time I kind of reached to point of actually putting in an application and completing an application for college, I was a little hesitant as to whether I was pursuing the direction that I needed to go. I think I found and started to see like yeah, I've done all this work in high school but I'm just not sure that this is really what I want to commit to. So I only applied to one college and that was the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. And the reason that I did that was because I began doubting myself a lot and I didn't know what I really wanted to do with my life and I thought if I don't like this college thing, I'm at least close to home and I can come back. So I was grateful for being able to be accepted into the university at Oshkosh because it was the only application that I had submitted so I was pretty fortunate that Oshkosh accepted me and that I could start my college journey there.

HO: Very cool. Alright, so the reason you decided to come to Oshkosh was because it was just kind of close to home?

SB: It was. And another one of the things I do remember being interested in was I remember getting a college catalogue then in the mail for Oshkosh and perusing through it. And I remember being pretty interested and fascinated with the Radio-TV-Film program and the Communications program. And I thought "oh, this looks kind of interesting, maybe I'll do that."

HO: Very cool. So, were there any other factors that kind of influenced your decision to come to UWO?

SB: I don't know, I don't think so. At that time, I was pretty [unclear]. I didn't know anything about colleges or universities or what the experience was going to be like. There was some comfort there because it was a university that was close to home. I was venturing into something, like, just into the unknown, and I felt some security in being close to home.

HO: Right, understandable. So, what were first impressions of UWO?

SB: I remember move in day being very stressful. My mom doesn't like very busy places so I remember riding in the car with her and I think my dad took a wrong turn on a one-way street. I know, she started freaking out. And then I'm moving into North Scott, and it was so busy, but at the same time it was just, it was kind of an awe-inspiring experience, because it was kind of like "wow, I'm really doing this" like I'm on a college campus and I'm… it was I guess maybe hard to articulate. There was some excitement, there was definitely some nervousness. I didn't know many people and I was more of an introvert, forced extrovert because I do remember getting moved in and really having to go door to door and just introduce myself and say hi to people and start getting to know to people. And I loved that the campus was so kind of cozy, it was condensed, I felt like I could easily explore it on foot and not get lost. I liked that it was right by the river because, actually Fremont, Wisconsin, is located right on the Wolf River, and so it reminded me a lot of being at home and there was some comfort in that too. Like being able to go out and relax and just kind of walk along or sit by the river. So, there was some pieces about it that reminded me of home and yet other pieces that had me a bit overwhelmed because it was much more bustling that the town Fremont was. So, yeah, lots of excitement, lots of nervousness, but overall I think an eagerness to get started on a new chapter of life.

HO: Very cool. So, do you remember your first weeks of school kind of?

SB: Yeah, I do, somewhat. I mean I think a lot of what I recall though is not so much the classes, but more so like the living environment and getting to know people. Just like I said, I really didn't know anyone there, I was trying to like, feel comfortable. Sometimes that awkwardness of having to go to the cafeteria all by yourself because you don't know anyone. So, forcing myself to do these things, stepping outside of my comfort zone, introducing myself to people, kind of just, like I said, exploring the campus. I remember meeting some people pretty quickly several floors beneath where I was assigned, that I became pretty fast friends with. I would say one of my best friendships thought from my years at Oshkosh actually happened in my second semester, while I was there. And we shared an English class together. But I do remember my very first semester my favorite class was communication. So speech, giving speeches. I do remember that class, and meeting some interesting people and having some fun.

HO: Awesome. Do you remember any of your other classes? Did you have to take any labs or any specific classes?

SB: Yeah, my first semester, I think that I had- I know for sure I had communication, and I remember a psychology class, I remember I had biology and a biology lab- that is kind of the extent of what I'm remembering from my very first semester. I know I actually took 16 credits so I'm not sure what the other credits amounted to but I do remember that because I remember my first semester I took 16 credits and then I did a winter interim and so by the time I finished up that I had 19 credits already. Yeah, oh I think- maybe one of them, I think, was probably a world religion. Oh, a philosophy, that was another class. I took philosophy. Oh, I'm starting to remember now. Yeah, and I think a religion class I had, too.

HO: Alright. So, you were really interested in your communication class. Is that kind of what brought you to the realization that you would want to maybe major in this?

SB: Yeah. I had like an eye-opening moment just sitting in that communication class because I liked it so much and I enjoyed being in that class and I remember distinctly thinking to myself, "you know what, I would love to be a speech professor someday." Like I would love to teach at a college campus and teach communication classes, teach speech, like I remember wanting to be my professor. So yeah that was something that I was really interested in.

HO: Very cool. I think it's awesome that you kind of discovered that right away because some people it takes like a few, I don't know, a couple semesters to figure out what they want to do. So that's very cool. Did you ever think about changing your major at all? Or was kind of just straightforward from there?

SB: No, I definitely thought about it. My course got a little, I got a little off track with my course. And I have to admit, like I went in to meet with my professor, my speech/communication professor, and I said "you know, I really would like to do this, I could see myself someday maybe being a professor in teaching a speech class just like this. Can you give me some insight? How would I go about doing this?" and I remember my professor telling me "well, you know, you probably- I mean, I don't know if you really want to do this because I don't even know what the chances of the job opportunities really are going to be like. So you'd have to go through several years of school and you're not guaranteed a job." And I remember being kind of painted this gloom and doom picture and then my professor asking me "well, what are some of the things that you're good at, what are your strengths?" and I said "well I'm not sure, I actually planned to go pre-med, I had done a lot of the advanced math and sciences in high school" and she said "well you know, if you mix your strengths in sciences with communication, there's a really great job out there for you." and I remember thinking "yeah, okay, well what is that?", because one of the things that I think was big for me, was that in the end college, was going to, it was going to provide me with a job. Right? It was going to provide me with a profession and I was going to be in a different place than my family was and so I knew I couldn't play around with college. My family didn't have a lot of money. I needed to get in, I needed to get out, and I needed to get a job so that I could support myself. So, when I'm guaranteed a job, and my advisor is speaking to me that- I'm like okay I'm going to do what you say. So, she suggested that I pursue a career in speech and hearing sciences. So, I go the communication route but I focus more on the science aspect of it. And I got into it, and I was really good at it and I really enjoyed it. Like, all of the classes that I needed to take for it, like, I remember one of my favorite classes in college was audiological acoustics. It was like the science of hearing. Like all of the anatomy and physiology of the speech mechanism, like all of the anatomy and the sciences, and I was like "yeah [unclear]." I really was enjoying those because I really was good at the sciences. So, when I got to the end, (laughs) there's a scene here in my life, when I got to the end of my college career, my undergraduate degree, there were other classes that I was taking that was kind of opening my eyes to like, this is not really what I want to do with my life. And it was like the clinical aspects, like, well you have to create lesson plans, and then you have to work in the clinic with the patients, and I just don't see myself doing this. So, then I had to take a step back because I was in a little bit of a panic mode. Like how can I finish my first degree and not have a job opportunity waiting for me? Like what am I doing to do? So, I reflected a little bit more on all of the things that I had done in college. Those things were leadership with residence life, I was a tour guide for the admissions office, I was an orientation leader for the Dean of Student's office. I think at the time they called it Odyssey Orientation. So, all of these things that I was doing as a student outside of the classes was kind of really informing me of my next step, which was going into higher education. So, I realized, like, hey, I could work to support students much like myself. Students that are coming in as first generation college students that are needing some support in making their transition to the college experience. So that's when I decided, well, my undergrad degree wasn't really going to lead me into a profession, so I'm going to go for my master's now, and that's where my focus was.

HO: Very cool. So, you said you have your bachelor's degree in communication. Did you have to do anything specific for that major? Or was it just mainly getting your classes out of the way?

SB: Yeah, it was, I mean I did have some clinical experiences, kind of minor, which is what you would have in like the undergrad experience. But a lot of it, you were right, it was just courses. I just met all of my requirements for course completion.

HO: Okay. And then so, going on for your master's, what was that like?

SB: I loved it. I loved it. I think that that was like the- I hit my prime and it was an amazing program. I loved all of my professors, I loved the people that I met in the program. it was really an eye-opening experience. It really, the focus was it was a master's in counseling, so the focus really was counseling and in clinical counseling and I just felt like I had a knack for that. And maybe that came from like, the communication aspect of like, just listening and being a good listener, and helping people talk about things and process through things. But it really allowed me to do a lot of self-exploration, too. And it's just, I don't know, I felt really good about being a part of that program. It felt really fortunate to be a part of it and I really could see myself moving forward and doing- I think what was a big value to me, and I think what I spoke of before, which is helping other people. Like, I really grew up getting a sense of it's important to help other people and this was really giving me that great opportunity to be a support and to be a help to others. And I did a lot of growing up, and like I said, learning about myself in that program, so I really loved it.

HO: That's awesome. Were there any professors that were influential?

SB: In my master's program?

HO: Yeah.

SB: Yes, and I am going to feel really bad that I don't remember his last name right now off the top of my head. But his first name was Ken, and I remember him being an older gentleman who kind of had this like really stern look about him and he was very intimidating at first. But he taught me some of the biggest lessons as I made my way through that program and it was one that I really appreciated and valued and connected with in my learning process. One of the bigger things that he taught me was the importance of listening, the importance of silence and being present with someone and really hearing what other people have to say. And so, he's definitely a standout in my mind. My advisor, too, I remember Dr. Alan Saginak was also tremendously supportive. I really loved how he had a very calming presence about him, very supportive, really kind of helped me understand through my classes and where it was that I wanted to go, kind of deciding, because in the counseling program you really had to choose an emphasis. So, you had- you could choose from K through 12 school counseling, student affairs of higher education counseling or going into the community and doing community counseling. I remember he was very helpful and getting me to understand like what my options were. When I stepped outside of the master's program and I started work on college campuses so that was really appreciated too.

HO: Awesome. So, kind of transitioning into, like, your life on campus, how did you spend most of your time?

SB: In my undergrad, I would say I spent time between focusing on classes, spending time with friends. I didn't enjoy a whole lot of clubs. I spent a lot of my time more so in working those jobs that I spoke of. So, I did a lot of leadership things through my residence hall. I lived in Nelson Hall for the majority of my undergraduate degree. So, I spent my first year in North Scott, and then the next three years I chose to live in, all three years after that, in Nelson Hall and I loved it because I felt like I had a home away from home. I had a family of some really great friends, I had a lot of fun there. We did a lot of great programming and activities. Like I said, I took more of like a leadership role there, so that was a lot of fun. I spent a lot of time doing different things with them and then, you know, I was a tour guide and I worked with the Odyssey Orientation program. So, a lot of it was between like classes and friends and doing fun things in my hall and for my hall and working my jobs. The other extra stuff that I did was more so like the intramural sports. I remember playing a lot of handball and floor hockey and volleyball, so those were some of my favorite kind of pastime ventures.

HO: Awesome. Speaking of home, did you go home a lot? Since it was so close?

SB: I didn't! No, I didn't I really didn't go home a lot. So, I would say, oh my goodness, maybe at most three times a semester. Yeah, I really spent the majority of my time on campus. And I, like I said, it was more of a home away from home, it felt really comfortable, I really didn't have a desire to go back home. So, I was, yeah, not much.

HO: Cool. So, when you were talking about Nelson Hall, I was really confused because Nelson Hall is no longer here.

SB: That's correct (laughs).

HO: So, what was Nelson Hall like?

SB: Oh, it was great. And I really wish that I would have selected that as the place to be my first year. Nelson Hall was a smaller community, and I can't even remember exactly how many residents were there, but it was only four floors so it was a really smaller building. I'm trying to think of something that would be similar that might still be there on campus. Kind of like maybe like an Evans size, or a Stewart. So, it was a smaller community. It was really easy to meet people and to be connected. I remember living on the first floor and the first- I lived there all three years. I chose a different room each year but I stayed on the first floor. The first floor was decorated like a Monopoly board, so like every kind of section of wall was like a new spot on the Monopoly board and I thought that that was kind of interesting (laughs). So, I mean that definitely stands out to me. But yeah, I remember just a lot of, just a lot of hanging out with friends, like we would all sit in the hallways. I remember one year there was like a fellow floormate and I that played guitar so we would hang out in the lounge or in our room and outside where we'd play guitar and just hanging out in the lobby area too. At the time, there was a desk that they sold, I think like, oh actually I remember frozen pizzas but more of those snacky items that I remember. It was right next to the mailboxes and was kind of like the hangout place. You know when you were done with classes you would go hang out at the desk and everyone would just be there, and it was really so much fun.

HO: Very cool. So, did you ever live off campus?

SB: I did. When I transitioned to grad school, or the master's program, I decided to move off campus and I had met a friend that I had lived with and we rented a, like the bottom part of the house on Wisconsin- Wisconsin avenue? Wisconsin street?

HO: Yeah, Wisconsin street.

SB: I can't even remember it. Street (laughs). Yeah.

HO: Was that kind of hard to transition? Like living in a dorm to living in a house?

SB: No, you know I really liked living in Nelson and I don't regret spending as many years as I did living there, but I was ready to move on. [unclear]. I was ready to kind of have my own space. And yeah it was nice to be off campus, but right I'm so close I was just like right there and I'm always surrounded by a lot of other college students living in housing there. It was, yeah, a different feel, you know, a different time in my life still.

HO: So, what were some of your memories that you have of your college friends and what did you do with them? Have you stayed in touch?

SB: So, one of my best friends I met my first year in college, it was our spring semester and we had an English class together and we really hit it off. After that, I remember that summer I had sent him a letter. Now this was like back in the day, right? (Laughs) Technology is just kind of [unclear]. But I'm still a big letter writer, so I'm going to support that, a dying art. But I sent him a letter, and he wrote back and he decided not to come back to school after that first year. So, he did one year at Oshkosh and then he moved to Madison and he was a drummer, and so he was in a band and he was going to take things in that direction. But he and I stayed connected through letter writing and occasional visits. So, he and I would write back and forth between Oshkosh and Madison and he would come and visit every once in a while on campus. He was just a tremendous friend whom I've stayed in contact with throughout the years. So, he's still here in Madison. We don't letter write as much anymore so now were both living here, but he's still kind of on the music scene. My other friends I made a little bit later, actually, in my undergrad years and I met them through working on campus actually over the summer with the custodial crew. And I can't remember exactly what summer it was, I think it might've been the summer of my junior year, to be honest, was the first year I decided that I was going to stay in Oshkosh because I didn't want to go back home for the summer like I had the two summers prior. And so, I decided to work with the custodial crew on campus and I had made a lot of great friends doing that. We had so much fun, you know, with our work. We did what we needed to do but we also had a lot of friends that'd goof around too. And so, it was kind of creating good memories that way. So, I remember also that summer, there were all the various summer jobs on campus and one of them was through the, I don't know if they still call this that or not, the MIO? Management Information Office?

HO: Yeah, they do. Yup.

SB: Okay, so I met a bunch of other people that summer through that office and so we became this really big group of friends and we would work during the day, some of us on the custodial crew, some of us in the MIO, and in the evenings, we would always go out and do something. We'd go out for bike rides, we'd play frisbee golf, we would venture out to eat maybe some nights, or go down to the local park, Menominee Park, and just play around. So, I remember that being a really cool experience, having like a really big network of friends, and from that summer, transitioned into the next academic year. So, we were really good about going to meals then together, when we could find, you know, breaks in our schedule to do so, usually dinners were the most popular meals that we would have together. Just hang out and talk about our days. We would do a lot of the intramurals sports that I talked with you about, so we did a lot of handball, and floor hockey, and volleyball. We even created- we would even join in on summer leagues of volleyball when we worked on the custodial crew and the MIO so we did that for a couple years. Yeah, so those were some of my standout memories, you know, like having fun. I- unfortunately, a lot of those people I haven't kept the best in touch with. And I regret that, I wish I was a little bit more closely connected to them. They all have kind of moved on and did their own things and we never really worked tremendously hard at getting back together again. But we still do keep connections, and have connected randomly on Facebook. Facebook has become a way for us to find people again, and be like "hey oh my goodness it's been forever! What's been happening?" I would say though that it was the summer, let's see… so I worked with the custodial crew for a few years. I think it was the summer of my junior year, the summer of my senior year, and then the summer right before I started- oh no that would have been the summer. Sorry the summer before I started grad school was after my senior year. That year I actually met the person I am now married to. So, we've both worked on the custodial crew together and we developed a relationship over that summer, which kind of lasted throughout my years in grad school, and then through him I met a lot of really cool people that we are really closely connected to. So those are the people that I, that we still stay connected with.

HO: That is awesome. Very cool. So, can you tell me more about being a- was it a Resident Life Student Leader at Nelson hall? Can you tell me more about that?

SB: Sure. So, as a leader, one of the things I did, I was a part of the hall executive board team and we would have weekly meetings where we would bring the hall together and I honestly don't remember. I'm sure we talked about like here's some important things you need to know about update policies and procedures or things and the safety of the community and important updates like that. But I do remember more so just like the planning of fun events. That is kind of what I remember the most is that I'm developing as a leader I remember going to the leadership camp with that. But we just planned a lot of really fun activities. We got resident feedback: what do you want to do, what do you want to see happen. One of the things that Nelson Hall was famous for was its annual haunted house, so every year the Nelson Hall community put on a haunted house in its basement and it was a huge production. So, it was like the entire basement was set up as a haunted house and we ran it every year and that was one of the things that I- I mean, Halloween is my favorite holiday, so it was one of things that I remember really enjoying and having fun with. And then another role that I had was serving as… let me see if I can remember what it was called. Community- I think it was called CRB, the Community Review Board. And it was a group of students, residents in the community, that would help lead meetings with students that who were documented for violating hall policy. Minor, minor hall policy. And so, they would come in, and we would work closely with the hall director, so she was our advisor. And she just said, "when you run these meetings, it was a way to bring residents in a give them a chance to meet with their peers and talk about what had happened." and then as the group collectively, we would talk about well how can we make some better decisions moving forward- when you think about how this impacted you, but how did this also impact the greater community. So, I had a role on that for a couple of years, too. So in addition to planning fun events, I also served as a leader in that way on the Community Review Board. And then through the- res hall, what was that called?

HO: On the sheet it says "RHAB", I was wondering if you could tell me what that was?

SB: The RHAB? Residence Hall and Advisory Board.

HO: Oh okay. I'm not that's what you were talking about or not.

SB: Yeah, that might have been it. And then that was like a, that was like a campus wide meeting that we would attend where all that various leaders from the individual hall associations would meet together at Reeve Union and we would have a meeting. So, yeah.

HO: So how did you get involved in that?

SB: I, I honestly don't remember. I don't know if it was one of my fellow residence guys recommended it or if it was the hall director at the time that suggested it. I'm not sure to be honest. But I think it was just inspired by someone talking about it, saying you know you should look into this, you should do this. So, yeah.

HO: Awesome. And then you were mentioning your intramural sports. Where did you do some of that stuff? Was there like a rec center for you guys?

SB: Yeah, most of it was at the Kolf Sports Center on campus. So, I remember doing like the floor hockey there, the volleyball was set up in the big field house. Handball was done in the racquetball courts, which I think were in Albee.

HO: Oh okay, I didn't know that. So, was that just kind of done with friends?

SB: Yes, yeah that was just something that the friend group that I kind of met through the summers, we really just encouraged, we were very active in the summers and I think that it was kind of a fun outlet for us. And so, we would just sign ourselves up and create ourselves into intramural teams and it was just another way to just, I think, to stay connected, be together, and have fun.

HO: Yeah, very cool. So, was there anything else you did for fun?

SB: When one of my, one of my fellow floor mates in Nelson Hall had asked me one time if I wanted to, she's like "do you want to do a 5K with me?" and I was like "what's a 5K?" (laughs). And she says, "oh it's just a little run that you do." and I was like "a run?!" I was never a runner, I was never very into running. But she had said "well it's just-" but I'm like "how long is it?" she's like "it's about three miles" and I thought she was joking because it just brought back memories of like the mile run in gym class. And I thought no way, three miles. But I decided to that with her and it was such a rush the first time I did it to cross that finish line and I wasn't due in any kind of stunning, stellar time but I- just to have done it, I was like, "oh my goodness, this is awesome, I just did this." And so I actually got into running and through my undergrad I actually did a lot of different 5Ks and 10Ks, and between, I think the end of my undergraduate days and my early days as a professional post grad, I ran, I'd run six half marathons. So never a full marathon, I don't think I could ever do a full marathon. But yeah, I got into running believe it or not. Something I never thought I would have done, all inspired by a fellow friend in the residence halls and it became something that I really enjoyed.

HO: That is very cool. Did you ever go to homecoming or any other like school activities?

SB: I remember going to a small handful of sporting events. I remember going to some basketball games, and maybe like one or two football games, a couple soccer games, I remember going to see. I, yeah, I went to a couple of dances, I don't think they were the homecoming dances though. Maybe they were, I don't… you know what, I think it might have been a dance that was related to the residence halls. I think they might have put on an annual dance or something like that because I remember going to a couple. I remember attending a couple of music concerts on campus, I want to say, I'm pretty sure I saw the Goo Goo Dolls on campus. Yeah, I think that that was the group. I remember through the residence halls being involved in homecoming activities, though, because I do remember some of those challenges that we would be involved in, or the competitions. Like, there was a skit competition I remember being a part of and I remember during winter carnival, doing the ice sculptures. So, I do remember some of those kinds of competitions that would happen during homecoming and winter carnival. But most of those that were doing through the residence halls, so I was like on a residence hall team.

HO: Awesome. Did you go off campus much?

SB: No, I didn't. The extent that I would go off campus would be to Menominee Park. I would do my running off campus so I would make like really big loops, like around the bridges across the, across the river and back to campus. But I remember going down to Menominee Park quite a bit. And then my other favorite spot was the, I honestly think it was called the Blue Moon Cafe before it became the New Moon Cafe. So, I remember going there quite a bit, and I liked it there. I liked the cafes.

HO: So, what did you think of the city of Oshkosh?

SB: You know, I have a much greater appreciation for it now than I did when I was living there. Unfortunately, I didn't do too much within the greater city, not even like shopping or anything. But you know I was grateful that I felt like I had the things that I needed. Now that this brings back a memory, at the time, of course I don't know what it's called now, it's some kind of university building that's just across the river, but it used to be a grocery store, a big grocery store.

HO: Oh, okay. I think I know what you're talking about. It's like, for campus mail and delivery or something like that, I don't know.

SB: Yeah, yeah, it's like a campus building now. It used to be a grocery store. So, I remember sometimes going to get groceries. But yeah, I mean I was grateful that Oshkosh provided me the things that I felt like I needed outside of the campus, but my needs weren't that entirely great. So I didn't do too much exploration of the town. When I was there as an undergrad, I think I began to explore it a little bit more when I transitioned into grad school.

HO: Alright. Let's see… were there any major campus issues from your time at UWO?

SB: I'm sorry, what was that?

HO: Were there any major campus issues? Like was there anything…

SB: Oh, yes. Well campus issues, I'm not sure, sorry. Not sure about campus issues, I guess I'm thinking about more so like worldwide events that were happening at the time that I was on campus. Yeah, there's nothing that stands out to me as far as like, campus issues.

HO: Like no riots or like big parties or anything?

SB: You know what, there might have been a small riot. And I can't even remember what is was in response to. It probably was in response to some kind of game or something like that, because I remember just a large gathering of people. And this must have been in my first year because I remember, I think, looking out at the people from the North Scott tower. And it was kind of congregated on that intersection of Algoma and what, at the time, was Elmwood. And I remember some people, like, kind of trying to climb up one of the street poles that were there. But I was just kind of like a mass gathering of people. Yeah, I'm sorry I can't remember too much. I don't think it was that exciting (laughs). I don't think there were any really, really big things happening. I do remember, and like I said, the more of the standout kind of bigger events that were happening on campus while I was there that were happening, kind of worldwide events. So, some of those were, well, I remember voting for the first time as a student. I remember my first vote on campus, and then my second vote was more so I think I was in grad school then, but I remember some of the concern that was coming up regarding that particular election and the call for a revote and there was a lot of turmoil amongst that, how they felt like that was kind of unfair or kind of a rigged political situation. I remember the death of Princess Diana, when she was in her accident, that was a really big thing. It was right at the start of one of our years because it happened right at the end of August, so like right before, as we were all moving into campus. I remember my freshman year, actually, this is a pretty big memory. My freshman year I remember sitting in my psychology lecture, when the verdict on the OJ Simpson case was read. Because a young man in my psychology class was listening to it through his like little headset and he just screamed out when they announced the verdict, he screamed out. And then everybody was like, you know, not focused on school anymore. It was in one of those big monster pits in Clow. I remember I was there in grad school when the event of September 11th happened. And that was, that was really big, for a lot of people.

HO: Yeah, I can imagine.

SB: Yeah, so those were kind of some of the bigger things that I remember happening when I was a student.

HO: Yeah. On a kind of different note, do you remember what the tuition was like when you attended?

SB: I don't know the exact amount. Oh, I don't even know if I could give a good guess at that. Yeah, the only amount I remember is how much I accumulated in student loans by the end of my grad school. So, I would say, like approximately, I don't know, I feel like maybe it was roughly six or seven thousand a year? Does that seem accurate? I'm not sure.

HO: I mean, that's definitely changed. That's what I can tell you.  So, did you have any help paying for school or was it all just kind of student loans?

SB: You know, some of it was money that my family and I had earned and put towards it. But I certainly couldn't afford it all entirely myself, so I did have support through student loans.

HO: Alright. So, I guess moving on to post graduation, how did you feel when you finished college?

SB: I felt really good. I felt excited to take that next step. I was kind of in a still young and naive phase where I was just like, "now I've…" you know, like I talked about not making a very big step into college because I was afraid. like I didn't know what was going to come of it, and I wanted to be close to home, and after college I felt like I had grown so much that the only thing I wanted to do was get as far away from home as I possibly could. And so, I remember taking a job in Arizona, which was my first job after college. And I was like, "yeah, I'm going for it!" you know, and I'm going to gain some experience outside of Wisconsin and this is going to be amazing and I also was pretty fortunate that I was, well at the time he was still just my boyfriend, but we had been in a relationship for a couple of years and he was going to be heading out west with me and we were kind of like going on this journey. It was pretty exciting.

HO: Yeah, that's awesome. So, you said you had a job opportunity in Arizona. What was the official title if you remember it? Did it have to relate to your major?

SB: Yes, so, I finished my degree in counseling with an emphasis in student affairs and so I had prepared myself to follow a career in higher education, so working on college campuses. My advisor, who I had mentioned before, kind of gave me some insight as to like what would lend to the greatest flexibility because that's what I was looking for. I was like, I knew I wanted to explore, I knew I wanted to take a pretty big leap, so what kind of part of student affairs might be best fit for me and he really inspired me to consider residence life, especially considering my own experiences living on campus for so long and really valuing that experience. So, I took a job in Arizona as a hall director my first year out of grad school.

HO: Very cool! Was it similar to anything you did at UWO or was it different?

SB: It was so different (laughs). It was like a day and night.

HO: Did you enjoy it?

SB: Did I enjoy it?

HO: Yeah sorry.

SB: Oh no, that's okay. Yeah, yeah, I liked it. It was an amazing year. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things. But it was just, it was a different size school than Oshkosh. It kind of felt a little bit like I was stepping back in time, to be honest. And nothing against the school, it was just a very different place and a very different structure. It was like a residence hall where I had to wear a pager 24/7 and the hall was split into two wings, one was male and one was female. And you couldn't visit, the, you know, like if you were a young woman wanting to visit a young man there were only certain hours that you could do that and you had to check in (laughs). So yeah, it was very different. And then I'm in a whole new area of the united states, where the majority of students are either Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander. And then the big, I think, cultural/religious diversity that was out there was individuals who identified with the LBS faith, or the Mormon faith. And so, it was so much diversity like I've never experienced in Oshkosh. And I was definitely a minority at the time. And I was certainly outside my experience of what life was like in Wisconsin but it was- I just loved it. I mean I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to have had that life experience. So, yeah, it really was a great experience, both personally and professionally.

HO: Very cool. So how long did you stay there and when did you decide to come back to Wisconsin?

SB: Well, I was only in Arizona for a year. And at the time I had this idea which didn't quite work out, that I wanted to travel the United States and I kind of wanted to work in different places for shorter amounts of time. So, I was going to leave Arizona and I was going to go to Oregon. And I got a lead on a job that I was offered- well, I wasn't offered it, but I was about to be offered it, only (laughs) they called me before I could have, "really sorry, this job was yours but because of budget cuts we have to eliminate the position so we can't offer it to you." And so then I was stuck and I was like "what do I do?" And I thought I had to go home, so I went home to the state of Wisconsin and I really wanted to still try to search to find jobs in different places but my- I think it was, you know the timing of it all and there were budget cuts happening across all college campuses at this time and there weren't a lot of job opportunities available. And so, it was really limited with respects to what I could even apply to, what was even available for me to put an application into. So, I took a job, actually at the time it was Marian College, now Marian University. And I was grateful to have a job because my big plan to travel the United States really didn't turn out as I had intended (laughs). But that was my next position then back in the state of Wisconsin. So, I only spent one year out in Arizona before coming back home.

HO: Okay. So how long did you stay at Marian?

SB: I was there for about two and a half years. I worked with a transitional support program for underprepared students. So, I felt that I was, again, really fortunate to get this job, and I really valued this position because it really was a position that put me in the best place to be helpful to students, not only those students who were transitioning to the college experience, but those who had really struggled prior to college and were really underprepared and were not the best fit for the college experience. So, it was a year program, called the Excel Program, and I worked for- that was supposed to help student skill building and developmental pieces that would help students in their transition to prepare them for the college experience. I really loved it.

HO: Yeah. So how did college prepare you for life and for your career?

SB: I think that it really just- it was the experiences that I had. And not to say that I didn't value my classes, the classes that I took, but it was a lot of the experiences that I had, the people that I met, the connections that I made that kind of lead me to my career path. It helped me grow as a person. I started as someone who was unsure of herself, not knowing that I could handle college or be successful as a college student, being a little scared and intimidated not knowing what it was going to be like, not having family able to help me. And it really provided me, I think, an inspiration and a comfort, a place of comfort to learn and to grow and to believe in myself and to do things that I wouldn't have thought that I would have done before. You know, just introducing new opportunities. It's, you know it had me, I think, gaining greater comfort and confidence. confidence in myself. And for me to follow, I think, listening to my heart a little bit more, looking at all of the things that I had done and how they could lead me to what I'm doing right now as a career. Like I said, I really, at the end of my undergrad, had to take a step back and say. "Okay, what is it- I know I'm not going to be a speech pathologist, so what have I gained here in my last four years? What have I done that could help me in my next step?" and it was really thinking about all of the involvement that I had in those jobs that I did and… with the admissions office, and with the Odyssey Orientation, and with residence life realizing that like look: people who have served as my bosses, my supervisors, my advisors, they all are individuals working in student affairs and higher education. And they have been able to inspire and to encourage that this is a career, this is a profession, this is a way of helping students. And that was something that I realized. I needed a lot of help when I can into the college experience. I wanted to be able to provide help to others who were going to experience the same thing. So, I feel like when I took a step back and I looked at it all, UW Oshkosh offered me so many experiences and so many contacts and connections with people that truly, I think, inspired my next steps into my profession.

HO: Awesome. So, I did do a little research on you and I saw that in 2012 you were elected to the UWO Alumni Board. Can you tell me a little about that?

SB: Yeah, I just, I don't know exactly what it was. I think I had gotten some contact from Oshkosh and there was something where we could order a yearbook or something and I remember getting this yearbook and looking at it. In fact, I have it right here in my office now and I'm looking at it right now. I just sat down with it, and I started to look into it and there was some information in there about like if you're interested in reconnecting or you want to help give back to the university in a way, think about applying to be a member of the Alumni Board. And I did, and I was offered the position. And, yeah, I just started working with the Board and I was really great to reconnect with the university and to meet people who have been a part of the university at different times in their lives. And so, it's really great. You know, I'm- there's people of all different walks of life on the Board and it's been able to- it's been great to be able to connect with them and hear their stories and just to work together to realize we may have all gone to school at Oshkosh at different times but we're all here because this university impacted us in such a positive way that we feel really, that it's really important for us to give back. And so, it's just a great group of people, and it's been a position that I definitely have valued. I'm on my second term. Individuals who are on the Board can serve up to three terms, three terms of three years each. So, I'm at the end of my second term, I'm finishing up my fifth year now. Next year with be my sixth year and I have made the decision that I will- that I'm only going to do two terms. I really liked the position and… but I want to, I'm going to create a space for someone new to step into.

HO: Yeah, that is very, very cool. Had you had much involvement in UWO since… I guess since you graduated?

SB: Yeah, yeah. Well it's definitely picked up since I started with the Board. And I have share, another reason I think why it was important for me to reconnect was because in 2010 I had my daughter and I think by 2012, right, she's two years old and I'm thinking about you know, one day, she might- she will be in a position to make a decision about what she wants to do. And I want to give her an opportunity to be more connected to what colleges and the college experience is all about. I think to have her have a little sense of history and family origin of like "oh, this is where your dad and I met!" and "you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your dad!" So, you know, we took her with us, actually, for the first time this last year to the homecoming. So, since being involved with the board, I've gone back for homecoming and for the award banquet and for various events on campus. I even spoke into a couple of different groups on campus since being involved with the Board. So, a lot of my reconnection has been through that role. But my family is still, still lives in Fremont, Wisconsin which is really close to Oshkosh and we like to stop in Oshkosh and, you know, visit the different places that we liked. Like the cafe, and the park, and we've taken our daughter there to both of those places, too. And so yeah, it's just important to us to stay connected that way.

HO: Very cool. Alright, one last thing: do you have any advice that you would like to give current students?

SB: Oh, I think that one of the big pieces of advice that I would give is to really embrace this experience for what it is. A pretty once- amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity to really get to learn more about who you are and I think really following your heart and what it is that you want to do because UW Oshkosh is a great place to be while supported through that exploration to prepare you, I think, for your next life adventure.

HO: Awesome. Well, that's all I have for you today. Thank you so much for letting me interview you about your college experience!

SB: Yes, thank you. I really appreciate it. It was nice to be able to kind of venture down memory lane.


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