Interview with Victor Alatorre, 04/27/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Trevor Wittman, Interviewer | uwocs_Victor_Alatorre_04272018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


´╗┐TW: Alright, my name is Tyler Wittmann and I'm here with VA. Would you mind starting out with introducing yourself and stating the date and time?

VA: Alright date of time is-- Victor Allatorre by the way. And the date and time is April 27 at 1:30 1:24 Pm.

TW: and would you mind stating your graduating year and your years here at Oshkosh and your major?

VA: I graduated with a degree in international business in 1996, December of 1996. And again with a master's degree in business administration in the fall of 2000. I have been at UW Oshkosh in various roles as a student and an employee, since 1991.

TW: Since 91'?

VA: Summer of 1991, yes

TW: All the way up to the present?

VA: Yes.

TW: Great. All right and just to start off, we want to get some background on where you came from and your upbringing. So I know you said you were from 1:00Mexico. Just want to start off with where exactly you grew up and what life was like back there.

VA: Um, I grew up in a third largest city in Mexico called Monterrey Monterrey. I grew up there, I was born there. I went to school, Middle School, elementary school, high school. Life was very different to what I'm used to here in the United States. Both of my parents divorced when I was pretty young, about eight, nine years old. So I've been on my own since I was 10. Um, life was tough for a while. And so yeah, that's basically it. I mean, if you want more detail.

TW: what was it like? Was it a less, was it more of a poverty area or middle class?

VA: Monterrey is known to be the richest city in Mexico and probably one of the riches and Latin America. However, after my parents divorced, I went from being 2:00middle class to low middle class. And the fact that the responsibility to take care of me was solely with my mom. Yeah. So six years of that I lived in with her and as a small apartment and I continued my education, middle school, high school, um, with her until I came to the United States.

TW: And that was all the way up to junior year, correct?

VA: No. I completed my senior year in high school and then, as I was graduating from high school in Mexico, I about six months prior, I got an opportunity to look at some information while I was in transition to become an exchange student in the United States and, and pick up the language. My English skills were very limited, so I called the phone number. I went through some application process and I ended up being selected by a family in Slinger, Wisconsin. And so I, I 3:00came to the states, uh, August 18 of 1990. I lived with a host family for about 11 months. And through that time I was a senior at that high school.

TW: What would you say like coming from Mexico to here, obviously besides climate what was the biggest change between?

VA: The language, the climate, the weather, you name it, the way people live, in resources, the access to material possessions, the space. There's a lot of space here. I lived in an urban setting where the buildings were next to each other. The apartments were close to each other, a very limited space.

TW: And then Slinger is so spread out?

VA: At the time. Now it seems to be all kind of together. The little towns have 4:00become one. But at the time that I came 28 years ago slinger was a tiny little little town that kinda was a suburb of Milwaukee. It was mostly kind of a farming area, you know, a lot of dairy farms around the town. And it was incredibly different. So I came here in October, no, in August and by October it's already snowing and I had never really experienced snow. My assumption was people will just stay home and you know, you'll prepare for a few weeks to not leave any way. And so I've discovered that that life goes on and that you prepare and you get used to the weather. I was unable to. I didn't, I never grew up around Snow or ice because that doesn't. The average temperature and in Monterrey is pretty comparable to temperatures in Arizona. So 80, 90, a hundred degree, you know, throughout the year. Walking on ice, walking on snow was 5:00something completely different for me and I got myself in a few accidents, you know, falling on ice and things like that. But overall I, I really liked it. My challenges were the language. I'm an introvert, believe it or not. So for me to communicate, to relate, to listen, the phonetics of the language are very different and while I was exposed to the language in Mexico being close to the border, I never really had to interact with it, pay attention, listen, respond. And so the few, the first few months in the United States were incredibly challenging because I was basically limited by my English skills and I really had no access to Spanish speakers.

TW: So it kind of forces you to speak the language?

VA: It forces you to really survive. I mean if you, anyone, any human being were dropped in Russia or Japan, you know, over time you pick up the language skills 6:00for you. There is an intense motivation to, to connect and to, and to be connected to other human beings.

TW: Do you think that first off being an introvert and then having, not being able to know the language, and also being a new student, you think that that created a lot of challenges for you or you thought it just drove you harder?

VA: It created some challenges. Thankfully through my career and through my student journey, I connected with people that took care of me. They mentor me, they grabbed me, they helped me. In college, I had a friend, he was from Scotland and he was also Spanish speaker because his father was from Spain, so he was kinda like my middle, intermediate, you know, the person that assisted me through my inability to communicate correctly. And he was an English major. So he was like, always like, oh no, you got to do it this way. You got to say it this way. This is what this means in Spanish. So I mean, as I said in that 7:00speech that I just sent you, there were 20, 30, 40 people that at any given time of the challenges that I experienced in high school and then going to college were there to assist me. I don't know, maybe I looked homesick or I looked desperate, but, I was very blessed in that respect.

TW: Do you think your host parents helps a lot?

VA: My host mom did and my host parents, you know, they prepared me for it. They were very flexible with me when I was a senior in high school I had an opportunity to be in a sophomore-junior class and the UW system admissions recruiter showed up with a bunch of paper forms and they didn't know who I was, so they just kind of started handing out forms and I took it and I put it in my backpack and I went back to my host mom. And she's just like, you're a smart kid, why don't you try to come to the states and go to college? And so I started 8:00taking the, you know, the admissions tests, the test of English as a foreign language and a bunch of other requirements that were there. And I was reviewed and to attempt potentially in Milwaukee and UW Oshkosh, but I felt through the communications with the admissions office at the Oshkosh campus was more welcoming and that the international student advisor at the time was very willing to help me out. Through some of the financial needs that I had at that time.

TW: What was Oshkosh's tuition back then, coming in?

VA: When I came to the states, my first semester, tuition in state because I had a fee waiver out of state of about $950-$960, just tuition and then room and board was another 500, 600 bucks.

TW: For the semester or for the--

VA: For the semester. So that helped me. Then the first thing I did was get a 9:00job and working in a computer lab in Dempsey Hall. That helped me enter into more and more opportunities to become in a computer lab as a PC technician, expanding into the department residents lifes management information office, formerly pc support resident support, network administration, graduate assistance, student services coordinator manager, assistant director of residence life and then currently as the director of infrastructure for information technology.

TW: That's super impressive. Going down the line like that. Do you think it was that initial connection to Oshkosh that made you stay here? Like tight knit, welcoming, aspect of it.

VA: After College?

TW: I'm saying all throughout.

VA: Well, like I said, and I wrote in one of my speeches. In 1993, I lived in 10:00Evans Hall and I was on the fourth floor and there was these other two kids that I became friends with and they turn out to be fraternity men from Delta Sigma Phi. And so they both sort of encouraged me to come and hang out with them and be friends. And the concept of fraternities, that concept of rushing the concept of membership was foreign to me. And so I said, yeah, sure, I'll come and hang out with you guys, and that became a pledge ship a friendship, an opportunity to be in a secretary position, and then eventually as I was a senior, the president of the fraternity. Interesting enough when I graduated and got my degree and got my composite with a picture of the Victor Allatorre president of Delta Sigma Phi Epsilon Beta, the composite I went back with my father and I showed him my degrees and you know, my, my thesis and all my work that I had accomplished. And 11:00he goes, he looked as this composite from Delta Sigma Phi with 16 members. All pretty much Caucasian white folks. And he's like, how do you manage to get all these guys to vote for you? Elect you president then? And I said, I dunno, I just, I work hard. And I, uh, they were my family from, from the moment that I became a fraternity brother to, to my graduation. And after that, um, they took care of me. You know, I, it was my support system, uh, you know, when, when, when I was struggling with the homesickness, financial girlfriends, you know, breakups, a work related type stuff, they were there every single one of them through the ups and downs. And so, um, I, I feel very sort of, I'm grateful for the that, that, that fraternity experience gave me at the time.

TW: And going back to like when you first started, um, when they invited you, and I know you said you just hang, you hung out at the first start, what made 12:00you want to like actually join them originally? And then if you could give like a little explanation of what was like a formal event was where like a,

VA: there was a, I didn't know this because they didn't really explain it to me. And so I think of it being in a foreign land and I'm kind of an Austrian that suit and you know, one of my friend Doug, Dr Rocher comes to me and says, Hey, you know, come hang out with us. And uh, at the time there was another, another Mexican kid. He was actually a senior at the time, his name was Caesar Vallarta. He was the, he was one of the senior members of Delta Sigma Phi. And then he introduced me to a bunch of people, a lot of really cool people. And uh, I thought of him as a really cool guy as a kind of a role model. He was a little bit of a partier, but then he did manage to graduate and he was from Chicago originally, but he had a really cool car. And I'm like, oh, that's so cool. I mean, I want to be like that guy. Uh, and then, you know, I'm sitting there and 13:00a rush event and there's whole, he's, you know, a Sorority, women and, and, and Rashis and us and this big tall guy shows up and he's wearing a drill sergeant app and I'm super intimidated. I don't know who he is and he's just typical blonde guy with a shaved head. And he goes, hi, my name is Bill Ballantine and Oh, you from actually going. It's like, yeah, I'm from Mexico and please don't hurt me. And he goes, my mom, blah blah blah blah blah. And he was a Spanish education major and he had spent time in Mexico and had spent time in Spain. So he spoke Spanish pretty fluently. So I spent the whole, you know, the next few hours just chitchatting with him about everything and anything.

VA: And um, it was sorta like for me, an opportunity to rebuild myself, you know, to be part of something bigger than, than, than what I thought. I mean, I 14:00spend my freshman year working and living in Fletcher Hall, working out at the fitness center and, and living a pretty lonely life. I mean, I knew people on the floor, but it was very limited to all of a sudden knowing all these people being part of a Greek system, connecting, go into the union and at any given time being able to. I mean it was like the Facebook before Facebook and before the Facebook turn into what it is today. Uh, uh, a really cool opportunity for brotherhood, for bond, for connection, not just with Delta Sigma Five, but with everyone else that, um, that came into my life.

TW: And so with the Frat, I know you said you went all the way to president all the way up. Have you had connections since then?

VA: I served as the chapter adviser after I graduated for about 12 years, 13 years, and I was also part of the alumni, a corporation, the ACV, they're called and, and I served in sort of a guiding being the bridge between. I was the 15:00Facebook before Facebook, you know, and maintain the website. The website, you know, kept was kept with uptake because I was the technology guy so I could do web development. So I maintain a, probably the most extensive website of the university that included pictures of the history of the fraternity, the alumni that graduated and then updates from those that have graduated in terms of, you know, here's pictures of my kids, my family. So I remember getting contacted by the webmaster of the university saying, what are you doing in this website? It gets the most traffic more than any other department or unit. So I'll make sure you're not doing anything illegal. I'm like, I'm sharing pictures. So anyway, over time I got busier, I got older, they started seeing a lot of pressure from, from the university to reduce the risk that associated with that, that was associated with running a fraternity. And so a lot of pressure from the dean of 16:00students and other upper level administrators on issues like risk management and, and, you know, hazing, alcohol consumption delivery. And so as an employee, as a full time employee of the university, um, I was faced with the risk of, of, you know, potentially risking my employment if, if, if I got into a situation where I knew a risky situations with the fraternity and being also an employee of the university. Um, so I, I took a step back for a little while because I remember there was an incident with, um, don't seem to find something very minor, but all of a sudden I received a letter from the vice chancellor for student affairs and you are a url or you are now facing the, the position of being the, the Chapter Advisor, faculty advisor for Delta Sigma Phi. And so I 17:00need you to find a, I need you to sign this, this risk management awareness contract. And, and I did, but I, it, it, my wife was very concerned. We were buying a house, we were having kids. And so I had to step away from it. Also, there was a little bit of a generational gap, you know, 10, 12, 13 years is a long time. And so I become the, the, the guy that would come and meet with the fraternity, the Undergrad, the actives, and, and be the guy, hey guys, don't be stupid, don't do anything that could create problems for you. You don't want to lose the charter. And so for awhile it fell a little bit like, Oh, here comes that again. He comes, he's gonna, he's gonna yell at us, gonna tell us that we're screwing up. So that, that, that really took a toll on me.

TW: So that's the reason for me to stepping away a little bit from it, from Delta Sigma Phi and jumping off the frat and more into the social life. Because I know you said freshman year was more of an introvert year for you. What campus 18:00dorm did you say you lived there?

VA: I lived in fletch. I lived in flint and Fletcher Hall in my first year. Then I moved to [inaudible]. They used to be the international student hall. The reason why was because it was the only hall that was hoping to play year round, um, the nine months of the year. That was school was hoping. Then they moved us all to Evans Hall, the smaller, more manageable, less less costly to operate in summer. And so I lived there for a year and then I joined the fraternity my sophomore year, the spring, and so I moved off campus and I lived with fraternity brothers until I graduated.

TW: Did, did he throw big parties or go out at all?

VA: If I tell you now, I know, I know. I will lie, uh, the, the, the social aspects of the fraternity where a lot of fun. Thursday, Friday, Saturdays, Thursdays we went out to, I think it was ladies' night or whatever. Every once 19:00in a while people would have, you know, like parties where they would invite friends, but it will get out of hand. The fraternity would have socials where they would deliver, you know, they would have parties and invite friends are reading people. Um, eventually it became too, too risky, you know, the police, this is a year or two prior to the 19, 95, 1996 riots. And so the police started really, really, really enforcing the underage drinking and the, the, the, the sort of, that scene became very controlled and so that we go out, yes, that we'd go out to bars, you know, I was 2120 years ago, we did that, that was part of a lifestyle. And that's part of, used to be, I don't know, anymore power of college, you know, life. Um, I was always at the French have of trying to manage my professional academics. And then also the social aspects of it. I know that 20:00many of our fraternity brothers, uh, I mean the, the, the dropout rate was fairly large. You have a pledge class of 18, 19, 21 kids, you know, we initiate 12. The next semester we lose half of those and then the following semester you lose another two or three. So we had a core group of people that could still do academically well but also could, could be social.

TW: And you mentioned the 95, 96. I got it in my notes. I wanted to talk to you about it. What do you remember from that? And the riots, especially at the Patty's day riots.

VA: Well I was, believe it or not, it sounds like I'm being interviewed by the dean of students in any involvement that night. I wanna say it was a Thursday night. I was getting ready for a test and it was one of those days where I was 21:00like, I really need to study because otherwise I'm going to be in deep trouble. It was around this time of the year and we were getting ready to this whole finals week weekend whatever. And I was in my house that is on church street, but it's maybe a couple houses down from Algoma. And the fraternity house was at five five five Algoma right on the corner, where the Zeta house is now. And I just remember having the window open because it was kind of getting to be warm. And I remember hearing noise equivalent to like being in a stadium, like a soccer stadium. And I thought maybe someone was watching TV pretty loud and then that's when one of my fraternity brothers that lived in Five five five Algoma called me and said dude their rioting. So yeah. And we had all our rushies, they were staying overnight because we were going through a formal and informal initiation. I decided to not go that night because I didn't want to be part of 22:00that, that night and I was getting ready for this test. And so I go out there five five five Algoma and there's thousands of people on the streets, people climbing onto traffic lights and next thing you know--We were getting ready for the end of the semester, so there were some very large recycling dumpsters that had been pushed into the street and people were pushing them into the middle of, between Wisconsin and Algoma you know, I just remember not being part of it. I mean, thankfully I had nothing because I was always afraid of, of screwing up, getting arrested or getting deported or ending my education abruptly. So you know I stayed away from all of it. I remember there were people we knew that we're riding the dumpsters and doing stupid stuff. But, I remember that night was very--. I'd never experienced that before. And then we found out that the 23:00reason why they had had the riots was because sigma Pi had had a house party and the police had received grant money to really cut down on the underage drinking at house parties. And so the operating procedure had been to just tell people, hey, shut down, turn off the lights, everyone needs to go home. But this special occassion, the Oshkosh PD, decided to prepare riot gear, rent some school buses and go into the Sigma pi House and say, okay, this party is shut down. And by the way, we're gonna strap you all and arrest you and take you to the city police department to get fingerprinted or I don't know what they intended to do with it. Some of the students that were able to get out of there went back to 24:00Scott Hall and pull the alarms for those towers. And so next thing you know, you have a thousand kids outside in the middle of, you know, 1130, midnight, really upset because they're stressed out because a month before that the police had been following students or basically harassing students that were coming back from the house parties. And so that whole triggered this, okay, it's crazy. Let's just burn things. And people started running around. They went downtown. People from the city got involved, started breaking windows the next day our former chancellor, John Kerrigan, had to go out there and apologize and I remember my mom and people back in Mexico seeing it on CNN that something had happened UW Oshkosh that it had been very noteworthy.

TW: You brought up your mom being back home, how did you fare being away from 25:00your family for so long back in Mexico?

VA: Well, it was easy. I didn't have much of a family life back home after my parents' divorce. My dad became a workaholic and my mom wasn't really emotionally available to us. So when I got the opportunity became a young adult, I just needed to get out and do my own thing. I am homesick. I'm homesick. I'm nostalgic about things that happened prior to the divorce, but I know that none of that really exists. You know, my dad remarried and I went my own way. My brother who was seven years younger than me, remained with my mom and then to, once he graduated, he also got an opportunity that I was able to secure with him as a student here at UW Oshkosh. He went and got his degree in marketing, went 26:00and got his MBA and was also a Delta Sig. Worked with computers, graduated. He did everything that I did, but he did it faster than I did. So. So that was, he is probably one of the reasons, aside from the fraternity and my employment and the mentors and the tutors and the teachers the reason why I was able to remain at UW Oshkosh this long.

TW: Yeah. He just had a personal connection to back up your involvement in Oshkosh.

VA: Yeah. And like I sat in some of the rundowns for fraternity back in the day, everything that I am today in my former self is a byproduct of my involvement in the fraternity and the leadership role in the support role and the various contingencies that came, as I was facing, you know, like the things that I spoke to you about five, 10 minutes ago. Homesickness, lack of resources, transportation, you name it, people took care of it.


TW: All right. And now, if you want to jump back. So it was freshman year sorry sophomore year. Correct? You got a job at the lab working with computers. Was computer science always your plan going in?

VA: Initially. My dad is an engineer. He has a PhD in engineering, so I grew up around computers. The computers that I grew up with were very different to the ones that were here, and so I had some formal and informal training and programming languages that are now nonexistent, but at the time I thought very good. When I came to college, I realized the first year I was a computer science major that I didn't have the logic mind that is required for people to complete the projects in the estimated time that is allotted for these assignments, you know, I would see other students they'd be like, okay, I'm done. And I was still kind of working on the logic and the syntax and so I changed my major my 28:00sophomore year when I became involved in the fraternity to international business primarily because I thought, okay, you know, I like business. I like international affairs, you know, the person that was talking about the international program. I liked foreign language. I had kind of an ability. So I was taking French and German and a variety of languages and, and the advisor at the time basically said, well this is the path that you can take and you can be out with an international business degree by taking these classes. What he didn't tell me was, for example, to get an international business degree, you need to have, you know, take the international marketing class for college of business. In order to take the international marketing class, you have to take the marketing class. In order to take the marketing class, you need to take the business precores. So an additional year of classes Kinda just piled on. Anyway, 29:00five years I got through and I was in a class called revolution and development, which is, you know, designed to be one of the toughest classes at Oshkosh and I, I was the person there. It was a straight curve. It historically only one a, one B, one c, one d that is usually a small class with Dr. Grieve. And I became the person that got the A and I became the bank the following semester. Yeah, I was at the same time really like computer, so I was a pc technician working at the management information office. I was good with MACs, so I got a job working at the advanced titan as well. So every Tuesday night when they were working on the newspaper I would be on call and I would service their computers. And then senior year in college, the person that had been my mentor and got me my first 30:00computer job passed away of a heart attack at the provost office and they needed a Mac expert. So three weeks prior to the semester they hired me to be the fulltime Mac person for the art department. So I was doing MIO, Advanced titan, Delta Sigma Phi and also working as full time as the IT art department coordinator. And so I implemented that computer lab and I was delivering that for about a year, year and a half while I was in Grad school.

TW: Geez, that's a lot of jobs. But yeah. Since your still here on campus, have you been back to the program at all or seen if it's better since then? Or has it basically just stayed the same as like a lower level program?

VA: What program?

TW: The computer science.

VA: I serve on the advisory board. I serve on the advisory board for computer science. It's kind of ironic. I didn't get a degree in computer science, but 31:00about 10 years ago I was asked to step up to be--.I was known to be the person that hired the most computer science students, you know, by the department. And so they were very interested on provide on me providing the feedback on the program, the priorities, the instruction, the rubric of that they were using for the program. And so I continued to serve in the computer science advisory group that, that sort of assists the program with, with accreditation and they bring a lot of issues with faculty speak to us, well, you know, we have this issue with this rubric. What do you guys recommend? And there's about 20 of us that provide recommendations. And so if you ask me, I think the computer science program is very tough and it continues to be very tough. I think computer science students are in high demand. I think there is a short supply of them because I think the rigor and the capability is pretty intense for people that are not a lot of 32:00people think--oh, I like to play video games, I want to be in computer science. You're someone that has to have a background and math and logic and puzzle fixing and solving and resilience in that ability. what I know from being in the advisory group for the computer science is that, you know, we all as university members of the university are facing a shortage of staff, shortage of resources, funding for the enhancement of the programs, and to retain the accreditation that are required with the computer science program. So they're working on that. And that's an ongoing challenge.

TW: Speaking of lack of funding in that way your tuition dollars back in the day and our tuition dollars now, do you think they're being allocated to the right areas like your programs are?

VA: This is the politics of it. So since I have a background on the budget 33:00process and as I mentioned to you, when I came to the states, the state funded about 65, 70 percent of the tuition costs associated with going to school. You know, they saw it as the Wisconsin idea and so early seventies, you know, there was a lot of Wisconsin really believed in education at all levels. And so there was investment throughout. Over the last, you know, 15, 20 years has been a steady decline in terms of investment. And so what you see now is, is a reduction of-- now I think the portion that stayed contributes to education is somewhere in the 15 to 20 percent if not less. And so you as a student, as a current student at the university, you have to pay the burden or carry the burden of the costs associated with operating a university. In addition, there is sort of a limited number of students that are graduating every year and 34:00enrollment has been on a decline. You've probably seen the newspapers I used to maintain a forecast for the university in terms of determining the forecast of how many freshmen we're going to be in the residence halls because that was the driver for revenue and budgets for our department, Student Union and other places. And so I'm very familiar with the impact that that has had. In terms of the allocation, the mixture of things, as you know recently. And you know, I won't get into the politics of the alumni welcome center. I think our prior administrators really try hard to figure, develop other revenue streams that went beyond what the state was providing to grow the university and to make it more attractive. The entrees that I see have or have been happening over the 35:00last 10, 15 years. It relates to, in order for us to attract students, your generation and we needed to deliver the facilities that seem attracted to them. You know, if we would didnt not spend or invest anything on the residence halls, people, you know, other colleges would have, other universities would have upgraded their facilities and we would have been unable to compete. So that's, you know, in terms of distribution and programs. I know back in the day there were less resources for investment in and what I see as part of the student success element. So you know, there were no limit to tutor or you know, there were no English writing labs, all that stuff. It's what is perceived sometimes 36:00as overhead, but it's necessary.

TW: Yeah. And I know you being a minority, do you think the problem of we don't have a lot of minorities here causes a problem for people not wanting to come here as much.

VA: It's a little bit of everything. When I came to the states, I was the only foreign international student from Mexico. There were a couple other people from Latin America, from Peru, from Argentina, from Puerto Rico. Even though, Puerto Rico is a US territory, but it was very small. I think that this is something that I got myself involved with when I was in residence life in terms of analytics statistics for student success with the use of something called map works. And so I was able to build these models using all the data that the department had with student success and retention and I can tell you that the 37:00university is a reflection of its communities that it serves. And so at the same there is no one single solution to the issues with a minority as you say, each minority group has its own challenges. Some of you are homesick, homesickness, financial means, role modeling, and then cultural differences that exist between urban and rural students. I know that there's been pressure about bringing students from the inner city Milwaukee, however they come with their own sort of challenges by the fact that their school systems are inadequate or lack the resources they need to make them successful. Integration is very difficult as well. People tend to gravitate towards what they know. My first year I got to tell you, I spent a lot of time at the multicultural center and there were the, 38:00the division of student support, which, you know, dealt with. It was a division, not division anymore, but the center for equity and diversity in. Fortunately there were people in that group that really assisted me, connected me with the Hispanic group, Latino, the international student units. It was very comfortable for me, but didn't challenge me to go outside of what I was comfortable with. It wasn't until I joined Delta Sigma Phi that I started hanging out with people that did not speak Spanish or that looked like me or you know, the people that are very different. And you know, there was a lot of teasing, oh you, you're from Mexico and whatnot. But for me it was an opportunity to extend, to really stretch myself out of the usual. And I think that is one of those things that in 39:00some respects sometimes we fail. You know when we want to take care of students from a different background we tried to put them in an environment that is familiar to them, but we don't give them the resources on the basis to be successful by expanding their their vision of what is mainstream now I know in Oshkosh and the Fox valley area, the population, you know, when I was in school, it was less than two or three percent of minorities now is somewhere in the 10, 11, 12 percent. Last time I checked it was about 11 percent if you look at minorities and the Oshkosh school district. However, I think for a while the accessibility, it was very problematic as the costs of tuition kept going up. The cost of housing, the access to financial aid, and grants and scholarships diminished. You saw kind of a reduction on students that basically see a four 40:00year experience as very limiting. You know, I need to get a job because my family needs me to provide for them because they're in Milwaukee or whatever. And so that is the balance.

TW: Do you consider yourself, not like an outcast, but like an outbreaker from your community back home to be able to come here and do this feat and you've accomplished?

VA: I think that everything that I am today is a byproduct of that experience as a child and the tough times and the good times and everything that happened. If I would've lived in a privileged environment in Mexico, you know, my parents being together, the homesickness would've overcome me and I would have ended up basically going back home after graduation. Yeah. I do feel like an outsider, you know, obviously. I haven't gone home since 2005 primarily because there's 41:00been a lot of really violent crime related to cartels. And so as I have children of my own, a 10 year old and an eight year old, you know, over the last 10 years, I have not wanted to risk myself of going back home and sticking out like a sore thumb. My accent is different. I speak Spanish fluently, perfectly, but I don't speak it on daily basis and people can probably figure out that I'm not from around there anymore. Like people know that while I speak ok. There's something different about you but I don't know what it is. They just tell me to keep talking.

TW: Right. And so that's, that's what it is. Have you ever had your mom up this way?

VA: My mom comes every year around birthdays because my whole family was born October, I believe it or not. So we bring her here for two, three weeks and then we enjoy her. She's in there in her early sixties. And my dad has been here a 42:00couple times. He came to visit when my kids were born and yeah. And he maintains that distance because of his professional experience and his family. He remarried had kids. And so that's the reason why it's separate. But yeah, I mean for me it's easier to instead of me going and taking my kids to Mexico to bring my mom up here.

TW: And what about your brother?

VA: My brother lives in Neenah, he married as well, had two kids, boy and a girl as well, same age as mine and he works for a company as the vice president for marketing and he is in charge of commercial virtualization and he deals with international sales as well.

TW: Nice.

VA: He's done very well for himself.

TW: Yeah. Coming to today. Going onto Oshkosh, what is your job today here? What 43:00was your title again?

VA: I am the IT director of infrastructure. So I oversee the largest team for IT. As I mentioned I worked at MIO for 16, 17 years. And then three years ago, exactly to the date I received an opportunity to become the director of infrastructure and served responsible for delivering a support and technical teams that deal with networking, wired, wireless, all the devices, the desktop deployment, imaging, printers, a classroom lab imaging AV kind of equipment as well. And so I have 18 direct reports that full time employees that deal with information technology for UW Oshkosh, so I'm responsible for the data centers, the video security continuation of operations planning efforts for access, like 44:00all the integrations, all the doors, all the systems have to be integrated to a central system.

TW: The wiring or the electric part of it?

VA: Yeah. Basically, yeah the wiring, the connections and then the data feeds that allow for systems to operate as people change jobs or change roles. Also dealing with some of the technology that has been established throughout campus, the life cycles, and then the standards as well. But that's been very challenging over the last few years because budget funding It has been going down steadily but drastically in the last few years.

TW: Do you think the last few years has been your biggest challenge over the 18 years span?

VA: I would say so. I think the last, you know, the first year and in my new job was very stressful. I think it challenged me and stretch me in ways that I never 45:00thought. I'm also with the political turmoil that exists with the centralization effort, the department of residence life had a fairly substantial IT technical team that deliver service to the residence halls and then the whole group folded into central IT. Members of my former team became part of various areas of the overall sort of picture and so that sort of specialize care that residents life had, went away. Now it's part of a bigger service catalog service, a larger team delivering those services to them as, as things the budgets continue to dwindle. And so we have to make decisions for priorities. What gets upgraded for is what kind of automations can we deliver and how we can reduce the footprint of it in 46:00general. Our budgets have been reduced by almost 20 percent in the last three years.

TW: Twenty percent. That's Insane. How do you pick which one you upgraded then first if the budget is decreasing by that much. Wouldn't you have to maintain a lot?

VA: Well, it's challenging, but we rely on automation, standardization, the lane upgrades. My boss came with a background in project portfolio management, which is identifying, you know, what projects are the ones that are going to have the most benefit for the university and what it's gonna allow us to sort of maintain the lights on, but in a reduced sort of footprint. And the decision has not been easy. I got to tell you, it's a lot of communication, a lot of diplomacy, conflict resolution. It's less about technology and more about negotiating and 47:00collaborating with people under duress to tell you the truth.

TW: Because everyone wants the money?

VA: Everyone wants the money or everyone wants the top notch Cadillac service, but have the funding of a Volkswagen per se so you can still deliver something but it's not going to be at the level that they are used to having or that they expect.

TW: And do you think that it's going to have an influence in the coming years for students coming here? In your opinion?

VA: I think the changes with the restructuring and through the two year colleges also, we've delayed a lot of things that needed to be upgraded over the last few years and we will need to make, continue to make tough decisions about, you know, you need to have computer lab of this size, can it be reduced or do you really need this piece of software that you've had for the last 15 years that it's only being used by a handful of people but costs $15,000 to renew annually. 48:00So all those decisions will have an impact on the university ability to deliver, technology, curriculum, education, all those things that are important part of the mission. We are facing centralization of it services in some respects and there's also kind of a push and pull between the central unit of UW system in it and security compliance and the decentralized it units. So us are delivering services, but there has to be an assessment between is this being delivered by us. Or is this going to be delivered by, by UW Madison or UW system.

TW: Trying to let someone else take the load.

VA: Right, exactly.

TW: So you being from the Oshkosh area still, I know you said you were the advisor for the Frat. Were you connected with any of your frat brothers still to 49:00this day? Like when you're actually in school from 91?

VA: Yes I am. I'm connected with them on, on facebook, linkedin. I talked to him. We have breakfast sometimes. I still have friends that are living in Appleton area. Every so often, at least once a year I see folks from the Milwaukee area, people that, for example, the guy that recruited me. I've had Fourth of July party and I've invited people to come. I'm at that age between like late early thirties and forties where we're all having kids or have kids that, you know, have weekend functions or afternoon functions. Our ability to say, hey, let's get together in Milwaukee and just see what happens and then come back Sunday is very limiting. But I, you know, if I'm in Milwaukee or if I'm in Minnesota, or if I'm in whatever and I know that there's people there. 50:00I'm like , Hey, I'm here, I'm in boulder. Can you, oh, I'm in Minnesota, Minneapolis and I attempt to see people. It was a very important part of my life and those guys really took care of me now going out and drinking and they see what happens till like one in the morning. Well, I don't have the stamina I mean I'm 40, 43, 44 years old. And I just can't do it. I want to see them. I want to know that they're healthy, that they're in good shape and that they're happy. And that's about it. For a while I was a little bit of a what kind of car do you drive and what kind of house do you have? And at my age now it's like, okay, you know, you're still here. Good. You have a job. You know, I've lost some fraternity brothers from car accidents or cancer or things like that that are just like, it really changes the priorities. Is it really important for you to 51:00show me you're really awesome million dollar house or is it important that you're still here alive? I mean those are the things that are priority for me now.

TW: Do you still use some of those connections in like more of a work sense at all?

VA: I've done some of that. They know me that I used to hire a recruiter, a lot of young talent and then I would have them for a couple years and then eventually they would graduate and go on with. And so Delta Sigs that are in the business side of things or IT professionals or people that I used to hire that there were, you know, Delta Sigs, and also IT students, you know, they contact me and I connect them with people. And so I'm a big connector of people on LinkedIn and Facebook. I maintain that role as the webmaster of Delta Sigma Phi for many years. And so, and I tried to get along with everyone, so I'm very well connected.

TW: Looking back on all your years at Oshkosh and your time spent after, what do 52:00you think your biggest takeaway that you've had is like the biggest experience that you feel has impacted your life, or driven you to where you are today?

VA: There is a really horrible, horrible, remote movie about a remote control that Adam Sandler had and when--in his life he found, it was magical and he was able to fast forward when his life was very challenging. He will try to fast forward and he was doing it only to realize that the remote control kept failing and it would fast forward faster or not slow down where it needs to slow down. As I'm getting older, I've come to realize that time is my most valuable asset and the things fly very rapidly. And so I spent my Undergrad and Grad worrying about the future and yes, I had a good time and I work really hard and had a lot of success, but I always worry about tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, 53:00tomorrow when I have a job tomorrow when I get a car tomorrow, when I get my green card tomorrow when I become a US citizen and tomorrow when, you know, I find the things that I want or that I have the perfect job. And I really didn't enjoy the moment because I was nostalgic about the past, you know, like my childhood, my little kids and then just kind of living this kind of robotic life, doing things that I needed to do to pay my bills and show my worth and then simply not, focusing on the right now, you know, I'm going to pay the bill or I got to save money. And so I'm trying right now harder, more than ever to enjoy the little time I have left here with my kids. You know, my son is eight, my daughter is 10. And I could tell you, I feel like there were babies just a year ago.


TW: Let's say you did have that remote and you rewind it all the way back to your freshman year and you could talk to yourself. What advice would you give that person or yourself back then that would guide them through the rest of college?

VA: Have faith, trust yourself, and you know I've actually used that comment as one of my speeches and in one of the presentations that I gave for a class out west, I was asked to speak on the leadership journey, and so I think one of the PowerPoints I probably didn't share with you because it was too long and too crazy. But I would, I would tell myself that it's all going to be able to right, that I need to just enjoy the moment and give, give myself a break because I haven't really given myself a break in forever.

TW: Is that why you think you got the awards in 2012 and 2013?

VA: It is a possibility. You know, I suffer from something called 55:00imposter-syndrome. You can read about it or you can look it up and Google. it comes with people who are high performing. I don't know, byproduct of upbringing. Both of my parents were engineers. My dad was always a disciplinary and very technical, very logical and my mom was very tough to, as you know, in terms of making me responsible for my brother. And so I've always felt like I didn't fit, like I wasn't part of.. like someone was telling me you're a fake. At every stage of my life as president of the fraternity, secretary, as an international student, as an employee of the department of residence life as basically the person responsible for technology at the university. I feel like someone's going to walk in here, and is like everything he told you is not true. So I plan and prepare and and give my extra effort. Everything that I touch I 56:00need to, call it a perfectionist, OCD type thing. But I really can't help myself.

TW: But that recognition has to backup all that hard work you put in all these years.

VA: Well a little bit, you know, I have a couple of awards, but not too little reasonably man. I mean I always felt like I don't belong, like I still live in a tiny little house with my mom and in a tiny little space and everything that I've accomplished, everything that I have in material possessions and the acknowledgement of excellence and that has been given to me is really not real. And so it really doesn't--..when I give my speeches and when I talk about all the accomplishments, it doesn't really hit me, you know, it's just, okay. Don't make a fool of yourself. Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. Yeah.

TW: Do you think it's ever going to hit you? Were you just--

VA: I don't know. I don't know. My stamina. I mean I don't have stamina that I 57:00have. I mean I can, I'm getting older I guess and I have to be. I really have to be careful as to where my energy is spent there because I only have 11, 15 hours a day and so I'm trying to prioritize the things that are more important to me, which is my family, my kids. If you look at my phone, all the pictures. You look at my facebook, all my pictures are my family. Yes. And my wife as well who has been very supportive over the last 15 years. I've known her for 20 years. I met her here at the university. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be able to do all the crazy things that I've done.

TW: Yeah. Well for me, just hearing your story, I would 100 percent say you worked amazingly. I can't believe some of the stuff you've actually done to be honest. If I could give you an award right now and I'd give you an award that's crazy.

VA: It would be like, okay, another notch, another notch to what.


TW: Exactly, but I came up from a middle class where everything's come easy. But I've always wondered what the other side, like coming out of poverty and having to work that hard, especially coming from a different country and doing that. Hats off to you! But basically that's it if you can think of any other stories you'd like to tell before I wrap up here that you want to get off your chest that you were thinking about coming in here today?

VA: No, I'm very transparent. You know, I've told you everything, that I have accomplished. I've learned and continue to learn everything that was important to me 10 years ago is different now. I'm grateful for UW Oshkosh. I hope I continue to be employed here for many years. It's become part of my DNA, you know, my family, my kids, my brother and then so I'm just grateful. The 59:00university has gone to a lot of stress. You see the news recently and so everything that was important, is no longer important for us and now we have to make different priorities. But no, I basically kind of touched on every aspect of it. I have many stories about the fraternity, but the good things and the bad things and everything was a learning experience for me and I am eternally grateful for the fact that I joined and rushed the fraternity. I became part of one of the biggest fraternity. So at the time and that these guys believed in me, even though they didn't have any good reasons too. But I picked up the fraternity at a time that was in a decline and you know, we were in double secret probation, literally. I mean the fraternity was in a tough spot because of things that happened when the previous administration, we were thousands in the hole because of miss management of resources and rent that had not been 60:00paid. And so I came in and I pay the bills, you know, I was able to collect the rent and pay the beer back bar tab that the fraternity had over six months, two year period. Then we won winter carnival. We won homecoming that year. I was surrounding myself with really good people that where just anything you need, we'll help you. We'll make it happen. I was going through a breakup as well at the time when I was a president of fraternity, and that was really hard because you're supposed to be functional, getting ready to go grad school, being in Grad school and also, sort of sequencing out the person that you thought you were going to marry after college.

TW: Plus you had all those other jobs that you mentioned.

VA: Oh yeah. Well, what happened was after the breakup, I immersed myself in school and work and school and fraternity work and you know, being President 61:00fraternity makes you very popular, but I wasn't really into that part of the popularity, so I just, I just did what I had to do and kept myself busy.

TW: Well. Thank you. Thank you Victor. I appreciate your time. Really appreciate it.

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