KH: This is Kory Helm interviewing Jordan Raba November on 15 2021, forcampus COVID stories. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh about their experiences and the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. First, could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?
JR: Jordyn Raba, J O R D Y N R A B A.
KH: For the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, please tell us againwho you are, your major, your year, your age.
JR: My name is Jordyn Raba. I'm 21 years old and I'm a junior majoring inbusiness management and finance.
KH: Just to get us started. We would like to get to know you a bit. Where didyou grow up?
JR: I grew up in West Allis, Wisconsin.
KH: What can you tell me about it?
JR: It's a decently sized town right out of Milwaukee. We had two high schools,there is maybe I want to say 30,000 people in the city.
KH: Okay. Tell me about your parents. What did they do?00:01:00
JR: My mom works for the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office and my dadworks at a factory in Mukwonago.
KH: When did you start thinking about going to college, was it always given inyour house? Did your parents go to college?
JR: It wasn't always given in my house. My parents just always assumed that Iwanted to. My parents did not go to college. They did some and just never completed it. So they really wanted me too. So I'm a first generation student.
KH: Okay, why did you choose to go to UW Oshkosh,
JR: It was far enough from home where I didn't feel like I basically lived athome and they had a really good business program and it's definitely one of the cheaper options.
KH: At the beginning of spring semester, 2020 where did you? Where were you inyour college career? Did you have a full class load? What was your living situation?
JR: I was in my second semester of freshman year I was living on campus in SouthScott Hall. I think I had like, maybe 16 credit course load. 00:02:00
KH: When was your first time hearing about COVID-19.
JR: I was in my room and I was watching the Snapchat news. And they were talkingabout how there was like the first COVID case that got reported in the United States.
KH: Oh, what was your initial reaction to the news?
JR: Um, I didn't really think it was that serious. I just didn't know anythingabout it. I just know that it was spreading. But I didn't think it obviously was as serious as it was.
KH: Uh, what were your feelings as everything UW and elsewhere in mid Marchstarted shutting down all of a sudden.
JR: I was pretty excited because we had an extra week of spring break. But I didnot realize how much everything was going to be shut down once I got home.
KH: How would you describe your feelings about the disease itself?
JR: Um, I definitely did not take it as serious as I probably should have. But Imean, it's scary people I know people who have had loved ones die. I have known 00:03:00people who have gotten really bad symptoms from catching it.
KH: Prior to the university, shutting down how much plan? How much planning hadyou made for shut down? Did you have a game plan? How much were your parents involved in your decisions? And what you're going to do?
JR: No, we basically got the email and I called my mom and she told me to bringeverything home. So we packed everything up in my friend's car, including the hamster that we were babysitting, and drove all the way back home with all of our stuff.
KH: Was that like, just taking everything and going home?
JR: I was up super late at night trying to pack everything up and I, we stilldidn't even get to fit everything in the car because there was three of us trying to go home. So we ended up having to come back to like completely empty out our dorm.
KH: Um, what did you do during spring break?
JR: I really just stayed at home. I didn't have any spring break plans anyways
KH: Do you remember how long you thought you'd be home?00:04:00
JR: I figured that we'd be home for the rest of the semester. But I also thoughtthat everything would be back to normal by fall semester of sophomore year, which I was wrong.
KH: How did your transition back to living at home go? Was it difficult to beliving with your family again?
JR: Yeah, it was a little difficult just because there's five other peopleliving in that house and they had already you know, change up their dynamics since I had left so it was a little difficult readjusting
KH: How were the other people in your home affected by COVID
JR: Um, my mom had to work from home and then my little brothers. One was asenior in high school and one was in eighth grade. And he, or they both had to do classwork from home. So we were all just on the Wi Fi at the same time and a lot of times I would have to miss class because it just couldn't handle all of us there.
KH: How were COVID protocols dealt with at first in your home? Was there any00:05:00masking or social distancing?
JR: Well, it really wasn't any. Like they had the stay at home order. But theydidn't really make us wear masks until I think, maybe late summer, or mid summer.
KH: Was there much friction? Or were you all in agreement about the protocolsyou guys decided on?
JR: I mean, my mom and stepdad weren't really cool with, like the protocols. ButI mean, wearing a mask is not a big deal. It doesn't bother me.
KH: Since you spent a lot of time with your family. What were some of thechallenges of being around your family that much? Were you able to get out of the house when needed?
JR: Um, yeah, my, I would hang out with my friends every once in a while when Ijust needed to get out of the house. But for the most part, I just stayed in my room anyways, so I didn't have to see anybody.
KH: Regarding your classes on schoolwork? How did you find the transition toonline learning? Was it, how hard was it? How did you manage group projects or final projects, or labs, if you had any? How did you deal with technology issues 00:06:00at home.
JR: So the Wi Fi was a big thing that just did not work all the time. And theteachers like, from what I remember, they didn't really know what to do once everyone, everybody went online. So everything was a little scattered. I had a lab though. And that was really hard for my anthropology lab. Because no one really knew what to do. And I ended up having to apply for pass/fail. But I passed because I did the work. And then I also ended up failing a class because I just didn't understand how the teacher was trying to teach the curriculum, or the material, and it just was not good.
KH: Did you have group work in that class?
JR: No I, any group work that I had, like, before we left it was just not on thetable anymore.
KH: What were your feelings about finishing up the semester from off campus?
JR: It wasn't that big of a deal to me. I mean I was kind of sad, because I didget to miss out on like the rest of my freshman year. But
KH: How much did COVID impact your major? Did you ever think of switching due to00:07:00COVID changes.
JR: I didn't switch because of COVID changes but I originally came here as aproject management major. And I just was not, or COVID gave me the time to think about like what I could potentially do with it. And I just realized that I did not want to do it. So I switched to finance and had enough credits to also be a family management major.
KH: With everything that happened and so quickly, how were you feeling,emotionally? How are the people around you doing?
JR: I was really confused because I had nothing like this has ever happened inmy life. And nobody really knew what was going on.
KH: Were any of your friends going through anything you know of?
JR: No, I know, most of my friends were also in the same boat. They're allpretty confused and nobody knew was going on. We just know that we were off school.
KH: Tell me about how you stayed in contact with your friends.
JR: I would talk to my friends like on Snapchat or FaceTime them, few times I00:08:00would, we would do zoom calls with my friends from school. Because we're all in just different parts of the state.
KH: If you're willing, can you tell me about how COVID affected you financially,any financial aid issues?
JR: I didn't work during the school year. So I guess the finances weren't likethat much of a big deal. We did get a refund though, and that really helped me out with like paying for school for the next year. And then through financial aid, we've been getting like refunds, or I think it's like emergency aid funds, which is also helping me pay for my tuition to this day.
KH: Were you working during your freshman year?
JR: Not during school, but for breaks. I would always come back and work.
KH: When you learned that UW-Oshkosh was returning to in person classes for thefall 2020 semester, what was your reaction?
JR: I was really excited. Honestly, I just did not want to live in my mom'shouse anymore. So I opted to come back, and I also had an in person class so it 00:09:00just worked out.
KH: Okay, this semester, UW-Oshkosh chose to offer some classes in person, butmost online, what did you choose to do in this new reality? Why was that at the time the best choice for you?
JR: Like I said, I came back on campus because I had an in person class. Butafter seeing, or going to my in person, or going to my in person class, I realized that just the way that it was set up, it probably wasn't a good option. So I basically ended up just taking online classes from a dorm last year.
KH: What was life like at UWO, once you came back overall? How did you feelabout the new school year?
JR: It was really weird. I mean, we had to wear masks everywhere. Every time wewere in our room, like even if we had the door open and then we had to get like COVID tested every week which was fine. Except every once in a while they would just stick too far up my nose and kind of ruin my day but.
KH: How did you feel about the COVID protocols that were in place at UWO? The00:10:00masking, the testing of those living in dorms, being put in quarantine because of COVID, or close contact?
JR: I didn't really mind the testing. It was honestly just something to do, andI knew that I wouldn't. I knew I didn't have it. It was scary, though sometimes my results wouldn't come in fast enough. And I'd always get a little nervous.
KH: How was it living in the dorms? Did you find yourself isolating yourselfthere a lot?
JR: Some, most of the time, but I was super good friends with my roommates so wewould just hang out all the time. And then we'd go see my other friends in like the other dorms.
KH: Did your interactions with other people change? Did you become a less socialindividual because of COVID?
JR: Definitely, I became a super shy and just didn't want to reach out to anybody.
KH: Tell me about meeting more or new people. Were you able to do that? Or didyou stick with your friend group?
JR: For the most part, I stuck with my friend group, but there was like, a fewgroup projects we would have to work on in classes like online. So we would add 00:11:00each other on like social media. And I mean, I think one of them I'm deafinitely, I'm still friends with today. We just recently started hanging out since we are back on campus.
KH: What was the biggest change at UW-Oshkosh, you saw from the spring semesterto the fall semester.
KH: From March 2022 to the.
JR: Oh, there was like a lot of people that stayed home. There was definitelynot as many people on campus. As there was on campus and as there was when I first started here.
KH: How did you feel about the hybrid approach to your education? Were yougetting a good education or do you feel like it was lacking?
JR: Definitely lacking with online courses, it's so much easier to cheat. And Ijust feel like when I didn't know what to do, I would resort to cheating and I just did not learn much.
KH: In the fall of 2021, vaccines are readily available on campus and in fact00:12:00strongly advocated by the administration and the CDC. What were your thoughts about the VAXUP campaign to get students vaccinated to win scholarships?
JR: I mean, I liked it because I was gonna get vaccinated either way, Idefinitely chose to get mine so I wouldn't infect or kill my grandma. So.
KH: How much do you feel things are getting back to normal? And for that matter,what is normal to you? What would school have to be like for you to call it normal?
JR: I feel like it's pretty normal right now. Now that I'm living off campus,and I don't have to get like, tested every week. It's slowly getting back to normal. I guess the only thing that would make it more normal is just not being required to wear a mask, which still isn't a big deal right
KH: Are there any aspects about COVID life at school that you think won't change back?
JR: No, I mean, I really feel like things are starting to get back to normal, orhow they were my freshman year.
KH: Are there any aspects of yourself you think COVID has changed for good?00:13:00
JR: Definitely more cautious about like, what I do, who I interact with.Definitely more clean than I was before.
KH: Okay. [Inaudible]. So just to revisit a couple points. What actually pushedyou to go to college?
JR: All my friends were obviously thinking about college, and I always knew thatthe trades was not for me. So instead of just getting like, a job where a degree wasn't needed, and that also wasn't for me, so college was just the best option.
KH: Okay, what's it like for you and your family of being a first generation student?
JR: Um, well, my parents are always pushing me to do well, and they always askme about my grades and my assignments. My mom has definitely said that she's 00:14:00proud of me, because I'm taking on 18 credits this semester, and she always talks about how she doesn't think she would even be able to do that.
KH: Um, what kept your parents from completing or going to college?
JR: Um, I think, well, my dad really wanted to do photography. And then after awhile, he just realized that it really wasn't going to get him anywhere specifically. So he just stuck with like warehouse jobs and trades and he's worked his way up. So he's been fine. And my mom always wanted to just be like, a cop, and she was a cop before I was born and then quit when I was, or after I was born, and finally went back when I was like, maybe 12. So she already had that job lined up for her.
KH: Were you thinking of going to any other college?
JR: I applied for Milwaukee, just because I originally wanted to go forhealthcare administration. But then I decided that I would much rather be away from home than live at home and go to college.
KH: So is that why you chose Oshkosh in particular?00:15:00
JR: Yeah, it was the perfect distance for me, like lacrosse is too far, andWhitewater just a lot of kids from my high school went to Whitewater, so I definitely didn't want to go there. And I really liked the campus. My cousin went here and she seemed to like it a lot.
KH: Okay, and then also going back to living in the dorms. What exactly wasmoving out of the dorms like, was it hectic, crazy?
JR: Well, we got the email, and I was the only one in my room, and then myroommate Amber came back. And I told her what was going on, and she didn't really understand. So we were both on the phone with our parents, telling them that we were coming home, or trying to figure out how we were going to come home. And then one of our friends who lived on the fourth floor in South Scott. She hung out with us every single day. And she was like, Well, I have my car here. So we can just fit whatever we can in my car and we can just all go home because she lives maybe 10-15 minutes away from like our houses back home. 00:16:00
KH: Okay, after you got the email, how long after did you guys start packing andgetting ready to leave?
JR: Oh, we, I don't think we we got it on a Wednesday. So we didn't really packthat night. But then Thursday, we spent our free time packing and getting everything ready. And I think a lot of my classes were even canceled on Friday, just so everyone could get ready and go home. So I think Lauren, which is my friend who lived on the other floor, went to her last class with me and Amber got everything ready. And then we left fairly early compared to a lot of people. So we could just take everything down the elevator and just stuff it in our car.
KH: Oh, so it was pretty easygoing?
JR: Yeah, it wasn't too crazy. Definitely not as crazy as like moving day.
KH: Fair Enough. Then also, that summer, you were working?
JR: Yeah, I worked. I've worked at Goodwill since I was 16. And I would alwayscome back for breaks.
KH: Okay. Um, so did you work when you went online.00:17:00
JR: So they actually closed down for a while, my store did. And then they didn'topen up until the week after exams. But then they ended up calling me and one of my good friends back because they went by seniority. And we were working there the longest out of everybody. And we said that we would come back because they mentioned that a lot of people who had worked there longer than us, which some like the older folks, they didn't feel comfortable coming back just with COVID being around and then being older and some of them like you know, compromised. So we decided to come back and help them because otherwise they wouldn't have any other employees.
KH: How much did you make a goodwill?
JR: At that time, I think I made $11.75. And they just recently, I think theweek before I left to come back up here, they bumped me up to $13.
KH: Oh, was $11.75 worth it working through the pandemic?
JR: I honestly don't think so. A lot of times they had people on door duty,which is basically where we would just stand by the door for eight hours and 00:18:00make sure people were wearing their masks and you know, just cleaning carts so people will be able to use them. And a lot of people just were not having it. They were so mad that we were making them wear masks. And I can't tell you how many times people will just yell at me and scream at me for just trying to uphold company policy.
KH: What's your thought on being considered an essential worker?
JR: I'm glad that my job was important enough. I mean, Goodwill is obviously atype of company that I would consider essential. I mean, people need thrift stores and discount shops to survive because especially with the pandemic, people weren't making as much money.
KH: Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
JR: No, I mean, I also did go back to work because I was one of the only peoplethat was cross trained in every department. So they could just put me wherever 00:19:00they needed me to if people called out or just didn't come in.
KH: OH Okay.
JR: Other than that, no.
KH: All right. Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciateyour contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.