Interview with Ellison Nabi, 04/15/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: Right on time. This is Grace Lim interviewing Ellison Nabi on Friday April 15 2022, for Campus COVID Stories. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

EN: Of course yeah. My name is Ellison Nabi. It spelled e l l i s o n, and then: Nabi is spelled n a b i.

GL: Great. Now for the purposes of getting audio recording, tell us again who you are and what your major is here at UW Oshkosh.

EN: Of course, yes, so I'm a sophomore student here at UW Oshkosh. I have two majors. My first one is the Biomolecular Science in the chemistry department. And the second one is Environmental health in the biology department.

GL: All right, and then: to get to know you a little better, just tell us about where you grew up,

EN: Of course. So I was born in Seoul, South Korea. when: I was about one year old. My parents adopted me from there. Currently, I reside in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, which is about 30 minutes south from here and I just commute here.


GL: Okay, and was UW Oshkosh, your first choice? Um, how'd you end up here?

EN: Yeah. So UW Oshkosh actually was my number one choice I wanted to be able to commute here from my home. Back in Fond du Lac. I worked my butt off working as a manager at a Culver's in Fond du Lac, and I saved up enough money where I was like, Alright, I don't want to be in debt for college. So it was a good school that I can commute to and from, they do have a location and Fond du Lac, but I was thinking, I think the science departments a little bit better here at the actual Oshkosh campus. So that's why I chose this current campus

GL: Are your, what's your highest degree that your parents had?

EN: My dad is actually working on his doctorate degree right now. Both my parents have their bachelor's and my dad currently has his master's

GL: Awesome. Okay, so, um, and your major so the your the two majors, you have what is your end goal?


EN: My End goal, I think would be to obtain some form of doctorate degree. I love learning. I absolutely love learning. I love biology. I love chemistry. I love science in general, actually. I want to get either my PhD or maybe an MD. I don't know yet. What's going to Entail me, but I know for sure I want to keep learning and obtain that doctorate degree.

GL: Okay. Now, tell me about the fall of 2020. The Yeah, what year were you at? UW Oshkosh

EN: Of course. So the fall 2020. That was my first semester here at UW Oshkosh, I was the graduating class of 2020. In high school. It was you know, it was a crazy time during COVID. Everything was shut down. Testings when: I was not able to do any math, testing, English testing or anything. So I was just kind of put into classes based off my AC T scores. And based off the classes I took in high school. It was a crazy time. I remember my very first class actually, it was a Radio, TV and Film Quest 1 course. I remember walk it was 11:30 a.m. class, I 00:03:00was thinking I was going to see all these people out and everything. Nope, I didn't see, I was able to get parking spot easily. And there was nobody else walking outside. I was it was isolated and quiet. Interesting.

GL: Were you at all concerned about COVID During that time, because, you know, we haven't had the vaccine yet. At that time, we didn't have the vaccine, and people were dying and getting really sick.

EN: So I was actually I was very concerned about that. As I said, before, I take school very seriously, I love learning, I did not want to get out sick or anything I wanted to, you know, be the safest that I could for myself and for others. So, you know, we all could obtain, you know, our education.

GL: And then: at what point did you decide that instead of like some students decided that they were going to take a semester off or whatever now and this 00:04:00just said that I'm going to I am going to campus and I'm going to go in person.

EN: I decided that because it's a science degrees, I knew I was going to go for chemistry or some kind of science field. And you can't really be efficient and like proficient in science by doing it online, right? Doing it in person is so much you get the practical lab experience hands on versus is the difference between: reading and doing right, you know, doing is you know, a lot more practical and you learn a lot better I think personally.

GL: So in that fall of 2020 How many classes were you taking?

EN: I was taking four classes

GL: and how many of them were in person only.

EN: I had I had two to two of them were in person, but all of them went on and off between: online and in person.


And the chemistry lab that you had, the two in-person classes that you had what were they?

EN: It was my radio TV film Quest 1 course that was half online half in person. 00:05:00And in the chemistry, it was all combined chemistry 105. So half of it was online, half of it was in person in the in person part was just a discussion every week. And then: lab every other week.

GL: Okay. So you had a lab? Class. Tell us about that lab class?

EN: Of course. Yeah. So, lab was with Chancellor Andrew Leavitt. It was it was different. I think we only had like eight or six people in that lab, we could easily fit so much more. We had to socially distance, do the COVID. And everything. Unbeknownst to me, this was actually the second lab that he's actually taught here at UW Oshkosh. He's only taught two. So it was a great honor to have him be my lab instructor. It was a it was awesome.

GL: When: you went into the lab, did you know who this person was your instructor was

EN: I had absolutely no idea who Chancellor Andrew Leavitt was until maybe 00:06:00almost to the end. I was like, Whoa, this is this is the chancellor?

GL: So he did he do you remember how he introduced himself to the class or anything like that?

EN: I do. I remember exactly where he stood and everything. He was. He just stood by a whiteboard waiting for all of us to get ready waiting for everyone to show up. And I remember he said, Hi, guys. My name is I think he said his name was Andy Leavitt. But you guys can just call me Professor Leavitt. I don't remember him ever saying he was. I don't remember him saying he was chancellor. I don't think he really wanted the attention or anything. I don't know personally. But I just remember him saying, You can call me Professor Leavitt. So that's what I called him.

GL: At what point did you realize this was the chancellor. I remember,

EN: I think something on UW Oshkosh, I got an email and he sent out an email. And I remember scrolling down and seeing oh, it's my lab instructor. Is it something for lab And it wasn't for the lab. It was just like a general announcement for Oshkosh, and it said Chancellor Leavitt. Something's happening 00:07:00in Oshkosh, what's the 'chancellor'? So I looked it up. And I'm like, Whoa.

GL: So when: you? Did you even: know what the chancellor, that we even: had the chancellor were what the Chancellor did?

EN: I did not I actually had to ask my dad and I had to look it up online.

GL: So once you once you found out, you know, what went through your mind as in like, what did you ever think? Like, what the heck why? Why is he doing this?

EN: I did, because I remember him saying every now and then: like, you know, he talked about how sometimes me he might have to leave for meetings and that he might not always be there for lab, but there would always be a professor there in the lab with us. I always thought like, well, this is kind of weird. Why would he leave us for meetings and stuff? But I realized that he was you know, Chancellor, and I was like, Whoa, this is this is pretty awesome. Such a great honor. You know?

GL: And did you ever ask him or anybody ever asked him why? Why are you doing this?


EN: I don't recall anybody asking him why he did this until like, near the End is when: I think most of us freshmen: realize the chancellor was teaching and how big of an honor and how we were the only second lab group to have him. I remember hearing somebody asked him and I remember him saying he just he loved teaching chemistry. He loved Chem, because he was a chemistry professor before being Chancellor, I believe, and he just he loved chemistry. He loves seeing, you know, fresh eyes and fresh students, you know, get those first semester in lab experience and just seeing them love chemistry.

GL: And what did you think about that? A, you know, so the chancellor is really like the CEO of a large company. You know, he's just like, I mean, the to have somebody of that position, you know, doing something like that. I mean, what did you think I know that you said was a great honor. But

EN: I'm still I'm still in awe of it. You know, like you said is he's like the 00:09:00CEOs like the top dog, right? UW Oshkosh. Like, what is he doing? Teaching a lab class, right. I mean, I find that weird. It's like I'm a manager of Culvers. So I feel like that's kind of like me as a manager, like cleaning the toilets, you know, something like that. But I still do it, you know, there. So I think it just shows that he's humble. And you know, and he loves chemistry. And he, like I said he wants to see fresh students that come in. He wants to make them feel welcome. He wants to make them. See how UW Oshkosh professors treat their students and how he doesn't feel like he's above others. I've actually seen him eating in the reef. I've seen him eating at Remans love, you know, he said when: people talk with people sit by himself sometimes just shows that, like I said, he's, he's humble. And

GL: yeah. So, you know, at the End of the semester, you get, you know, students get graded, and, you know, you get to do a sort of Oh, the, what does it call 00:10:00the SOS..student

EN: Oh, student opinion survey.

GL: Right. But let's just say now that you get to grade the, the chancellor as an, as an instructor, I mean, what grade would you have given: him?

EN: I remember, I would say I would give him a 10 out of 10, five out of five. So, in high school, I had absolutely zero lab experience went to a very small private school, we didn't have Enough funding or money for any lab equipment or anything. So I went into this chemistry lab as my very first lab ever in my life. And Chancellor Leavitt was abs-- was so helpful. He was, he would answer any question I had. And I feel like I could ask him any question, and he wouldn't act like I was stupid. And he wouldn't act like, you know, I was below him. He would. You know, like I said, he was humble. And he would take the approach to understand what the question I was that I was asking. And he would make sure that I understood it, and I got it right.

GL: Do you remember anything from that lab? You know, learning anything, any 00:11:00lessons from a lab that you still take on? I mean, that you still remember today or used in other classes.

EN: There was one of the labs I remember, it's like a titration. Lab, it was basically you wanted to see, like, how much acid you needed to add to a base to neutralize it. It's hard to explain, but that's basically the principle of it. I believe. I remember doing that one. And everyone's having fun. I think he even: had fun and stuff like that. I remember using some old school techniques, like a ballpoint pipette I believe. Just, you know, stuff that he had fun with, and we all had fun with.

GL: Okay. All right. Well, aside from that one experience in the classroom, were you at all concerned about COVID? You know before the vaccines? And during 00:12:00during the early stages? Were you at all concerned about that?

EN: I was concerned about COVID. With, you know, with no vaccines currently available, I wondered how that would affect school, I wondered how that would affect me how that would affect others, what it would do to my education and others education? How it would change the world? I was greatly concerned.

GL: And when So we were able to get the vaccines, like things like it late spring of 2021. And definitely in the fall of 2021, where I think the administration was actually pushing the vaccines. I mean, what were your initial thoughts about the vaccines?

EN: My initial thoughts were, you know, I'm not going to lie, you know, at first, I was kind of, like, you know, I feel like, we, I needed to get it, but I wanted to, I wanted to wait just a little bit, you know, vaccines, I believe I 00:13:00read somewhere, it was, like, you know, usually takes, you know, a little bit longer than what was taken: to make the COVID vaccine. But this time, we had, you know, hundreds, if not 1000s of scientists are working on this vaccine, right, perfecting it to the best of their abilities. Right. So, with that knowledge in mind that we had the whole Entire world working on it. You know, it makes sense how we had a vaccine as fast as it did to a point, right. So, I was ready to hop on and, you know, keep myself safe and keep others safe.

GL: What would you say that, um, you know, now we're almost two years pass, you know, when we were shut down? And what have you learned about yourself? During this time? I mean, you know, living, you know, in the time that COVID and learning in the time COVID, what do you think you've learned about yourself?

EN: I think I learned that I am very antisocial. And I like being isolated. I'm 00:14:00like, I like campus. Personally, I like campus when: it was like deader, and it didn't have as I guess that's a bad word when: it was, you know, quieter and more isolated. And now I'm in these classes, you know, tightly with people, you know, on my left on my right behind me in front of me when: I'm not used to that even: last semester. I wasn't used to that. I mean, this is, I guess, last semester, but like, last year, you know, this year is just, you know, everything's back to everyone's side by side and it's just it's different. It's weird and, yeah.

GL: Do you think some things will never change? You know, we do you think some things have changed permanently because of, of COVID of the pandemic?

EN: I think some things have changed permanently due to COVID. I feel like there's a lot of negligence and just there's a lot more how do I say--. I guess, a different thought like that. If people are more conscious of washing their 00:15:00hands, people are more conscious of being clean, maybe be more conscious of how others will be affected by their actions. Stuff like that, you know?


And, you know, how would you say your education, your college experience had been, you haven't had a normal so called a real normal college experience yet,

EN: Right? I would say the first year, I was kind of skeptical, you know, because like half of it was online, half of it was in person, even, you know, first semester and second semester last year, fall 2020, and spring 2021, it was all half online half in person. At first, I was really skeptical at college, I'd have a lot of friends that waited until actually this past fall to Enter college because they didn't want to deal with any of that. They knew that was gonna happen. But I feel like now I not even: now, but before the professors did the best that they could to give us the best education that we could have. Honestly, 00:16:00I wouldn't go back in time and change anything. I think it was extraordinary. I made a lot of good connections with people in classes, even: though you know, COVID kept us isolated, I was able to still I still meet up with a friend that I met in fall of 2020. Chances are that right? And I feel like it was it was a great time. Just even: though that even: though you know, COVID was happening. You know, it's part of me now. It's part of my college experience. And I will always think about that when: I think about college. And I think about how would have things been: different? Would I have never talked to Dr. Mahalik. As much as I did during that time would I've never been: able to have conversations with other professors do that time because nobody else we show up to office hours or nobody else would, you know, converse with them? In our half in person half online classes. I always wondered about that, you know, we have had these giant classes. Would they know who I am? Right?

GL: Did you do you? Did you ever get COVID? Or did you have any family members 00:17:00close family members who got colon and got sick?

EN: I never had COVID personally but my, my, my my whole family actually had it one time. This was actually maybe see. I think someone yes in the fall during I don't remember when: but my whole family had I did not have it. I got tested multiple times. And I did not have it but they kept them isolated and isolated myself from my family. But surprisingly, I never I never got it. So that was interesting.

GL: How did they get? They get sick? What were their symptoms?

EN: All they had was a headache and a cough and something with the nose but nothing extreme. Luckily nothing extreme happened to my family. So that's

GL: okay. So is there anything else you would like to add?

EN: I nothing, nothing at all? I don't think so.

GL: Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories with us for the Campus

00:18:00COVID and we appreciate it. Thank you.