Interview with Kenzie Wolfe, 12/07/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐LB:This is Lauryn Berg interviewing Kenzie Wolf on December 7, 2021 for campus COVID stories. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experience in 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?

MW: Yes, my name is Mckenzie Wolfe M-C-K-E-N-Z-I-E. And then W-O-L-F-E.

LB:Okay, what is your major and your year?

MW: I am a junior. My major is a radio TV film.

LB: For the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, please tell us again who you are.

MW: McKenzie Wolfe.

LB: Just to get us started. We'd like to get to know you a little bit. Well, where did you grow up? Can you tell me about it?

MW: Yes, I grew up right around Milwaukee. It's a city or town called Menominee falls. And it was, I think it was small time but it was definitely bigger than other people I've talked to but it was very much everyone knew everyone. Yeah, I 00:01:00liked it.

LB: Can you tell me about your parents? What did they do?

MW: Okay, so my mom is in education. She used to teach but now she kind of like, teaches teachers. It's, I don't even know her job description anymore. But, then my dad is Project Manager for a construction company.

LB:So when did you start thinking about going to college? Did you always plan to go?

MW: I did not want to go because I wasn't a huge fan of school and like middle school in high school, but my mom said, Alright, unless you come up with like another form of income. I did not come up with anything. So sophomore year I decided, you know, I guess I have to go, of high school. And then yeah, I like thought about going out of state and that was too expensive. So-- and I actually, I went to Stevens Point for first semester freshman year and like transferred here after that.

LB: Really? Why did you decide to transfer to UW Oshkosh?

MW: Honestly, okay, this is gonna sound like so bad. But I like saw a bunch of my friends from high school go here. And like, it just seems so much more fun. 00:02:00I'm like, Well, if I can have more fun in Oshkosh I'll do it. And then of course, right when I move COVID hits, and literally I got sent home. So, yeah.

LB: Okay, so let's move on to the early days of COVID at UW Oshkosh. So, at the beginning of this spring semester, where were you in your college career?

MW:So last year, spring semester?

LB: Yeah, 2020.

MW: Oh, I think I was a freshman. Yeah, I was a freshman. And we Sorry, what did you want me to say about it?

LB: So like, what was it like, what was your living situation like? Was your class load like?

MW: Gotcha. Okay. So when it like started, I was in Gruenhagen for the dorms here. And then, like I had all in person classes at this point. And then after we got sent home, they're all virtual. And some of them, they still like, tried to do like lectures and like, have videos posted on campus. All the ones were 00:03:00just like, very much like discussion posting. And that was really about it. So-- And I lived at home with my family. And that was on everyone. Like, I have two older sisters, and everyone was at home. So it was a very full house. And-- yeah, that was pretty much my living situation.

LB: What was the first time you remembered hearing about COVID-19?

MW: Oh, actually, okay. The first time I heard about it was somebody was worried about it. And it was the beginning of like, it was 2020 in like February, right when we came back to school. And I was like, I'm sure it's nothing to be worried about. Like it's like only happening in other countries right now or something. And then I ended up getting sick, but I, I'm positive it was COVID I went to the Health Center here on campus, and then she's like, well, we're not going to test for that. Because like, it's not here yet. Yeah, like okay, so then I don't know, maybe it was just a really bad cold or flu. I don't know. But um, that was like the first time hearing about it was somebody like, expressing concern about it. And I was just like, so like, oh, no, it's fine. Like Yeah.

LB: So what were your feelings as everything like UWO and everywhere else 00:04:00started like, shutting down?

MW: Well, I think we were around like one of the last UW System schools to like close so I was just like waiting for the email because everyone else is getting one and I'm like a huge homebody. So I'm like, no like alrighty, let's do this let's just go home. And I don't know I was just like, very much invested in finding out like when everyone was going home and my like other school friends like other UW System friends and even like I have a friend in UW, not UW. At Nebraska, Nebraska University and yeah, just like finding out when everyone was going to be home was very interesting to me, I guess.

LB: So prior to the university shutting down how much planning had you made for the shutdown? Did you have a place that you were going to go with school was going to shut down? Did you go back home?

MW: Luckily, my I literally live like an hour away. So I was able to just like take what I needed to go home, and then that was it, and then I think I came 00:05:00back after a few weeks to grab everything. Because it was very much like, take what you can and leave and then come back later. And yeah, so I just like, luckily had another place to go to like my house, but I didn't have another plan if that didn't work out.

LB: Do you remember how long you thought you were going to be home? Like, did you ever think you'd come back?

MW: Yeah, I literally was, me and my roommate actually, she was moving out from like, Okay, well, when we got shut down she was leaving before I was and I was like, the last person on my floor there. And I was waiting to get picked up. And then, I was like, Oh, let me like, give you a hug. And then she was like, oh, we'll see each other soon. There's only like, yeah, like two weeks It's fine. And then we ended up not ever coming back to that dorm. But yeah, I like thought it was gonna be two weeks max.

LB: How did your transition back to living at home go? Was it difficult to be around all your family again?

MW: Yeah no, for sure, it was very distracting. And but I did have like a good 00:06:00routine now like I don't-- okay, when I say that, I literally think it was just because like, I would eat lunch at like, the same time every day. And it'd be like the same meal every time. But, I also was trying to do like, at home workouts and stuff like that. I don't like, I don't know why I wasn't really interested in working out before that. But, yeah, and then there was definitely times I remember being super stressed out, because, of course, like I procrastinate, and there would be things to do like midnight, and I'd be doing it at like 10. And then people would be loud and I won't be able to concentrate. So definitely some breakdowns there, but that was my undoing. So, but yeah, it was definitely a transition to go back. And it felt like high school again. Because like, I was like, literally with my whole family. Like, all right, well, I guess I haven't gone to college yet.

LB: How are the other people in your home affected by COVID?

MW: Oh, my dad he since he's like in construction. He didn't. I don't think he spent like any time at home. Like he always was like at work still, like I guess an essential worker that case, and then my mom with because she works at a 00:07:00middle school. And she I think they stayed home the rest of the semester or the rest of the school year because I go into like June. I don't know for sure, though. I think that's I don't even know. It's been a while but then my sisters-- That's a great question. Oh, okay. So my middle sister, she was a senior in college that when that all happened, so then she was like, not really affected besides like doing online school, but she had to find a job. And that was kind of tough, I guess. Because like everyone was didn't know what was going on with COVID. And then my other sister was able to do work virtually. So. Yeah. Yeah.

LB: Regarding your classes and your schoolwork. How did you find the transition to online learning? How hard was it? Were there any, like difficulties?

MW: I personally, okay, I complained about it at the time. But also now like that we're back in person, like I kind of miss doing online stuff. Like, wow, like I've been like, especially with it being so cold out now. Like, just sitting in the dorm room and doing everything online was so nice at the time. 00:08:00But then it was definitely a transition to learn how to do schoolwork online, because I've never had to do that before. And I like actually, in high school, I had to do a math class online. And it was just about the worst thing for me because I don't love math. And I was like teaching myself I don't know. Like, I guess I kind of like fell back into that routine of like, not knowing exactly what to do for my classes and like having to ask questions is like harder to like, unless you're like doing a zoom call with your teacher. You're like, you have to send more emails instead of staying after class. So yeah, that part was like kind of a challenge, but we got through it.

LB: Did you ever have any, like tech, technology issues?

MW: Oh, goodness. Honestly, I don't think I did. Luckily, like I'm the only thing I can think of like WiFi but like, you know, that's always just spotty, but yeah, that was about it.

LB: What were your feelings about finishing the semester off campus?

MW: I mean, like I said before, I'm like a huge homebody. So like honestly kind of loved it, but I don't know. Like I did like being in the classroom more at 00:09:00that time. So I was just kind of like a little upset about that.

LB: How much did COVID impact your major? Did you ever think about switching? Because of COVID?

MW: Honestly, no, that never really crossed my mind although with being like in Radio TV Film, like apparently Los Angeles is or Hollywood's just like insane right now. Yeah, everything shut down. So I've been hearing about [unclear] classes, but I never really thought of changing my major off of that, man. Maybe I should have given that some thought. Just getting not I like I think like with technology luckily and everything with like, film and stuff like that, because that's what I want to do. I feel like a lot of it can be done like virtually like editing aspects of it. So I don't know I feel like there's always like a way to do it or like they all like have masks on on sets and stuff like that. So like they're so still able to like work, but it's a little different, I guess.

LB: With everything happening so quickly how are you feeling mentally and emotionally?

MW: Whoo. That's a great question. Okay, so I'll just say for like, okay, so it 00:10:00was 2020 Still, but it was like, Junior year for me. No, sorry, sophomore year for me like fall of sophomore year. Yeah. Yes, I was in the dorms here. And it was very shut down still for us, like, we had to wear masks everywhere, like, have the door close unless you want to wear your mask in your dorm. And then I had a random roommate and we just like we're very different, like an independent people. So we didn't really talk much. I was just like, fine normally, but like, what, for whatever reason, I was like, going insane in the dorm room. Because like, I just felt like so like alone. I feel like I never really did anything cuz I was so scared to COVID to, because I have like asthma and stuff like that. So everything just freaked me out. But then I ended up spending like having, oh my gosh, I'm trying to like think of the timeline. But in December of that semester, last December, I went home early, because I cannot handle being in the 00:11:00dorm room anymore. And then everything was virtual. So it was fine. But I guess you can't really have a chance to do that when you need to remove yourself from such situations now, like, you can't really just like pick up and leave with classes being in person if you live far away. So I don't know. And then yeah, I found out literally like, well, I Okay, like so revealing. Sorry. Oh, I was gonna say but I have like OCD apparently. And like I wasn't diagnosed that until like I went to see therapists about because I was like, why I was like, literally having such a mental problem, like during sophomore year. So now I've got help, so we're good. I can like live alone. I don't live alone. I have roommates. But like, I can be alone now. So sorry, I don't even know I said all that.

LB: So talking about friendships. Did you stay in contact with your friends?

MW: Yeah. Yeah. I think like the whole time we were like texting or like eventually we were able to like meet up and like, hang out and stuff.

00:12:00

LB: Did you find it more difficult to maintain your friendships?

MW: Honestly, no, I don't think so. I mean, I feel like Yeah, yeah, I don't think it was. Okay.

LB: Did you have any jobs during this time? Or?

MW: Yes.

LB: How was how was your work affected?

MW: I'm trying to think of, I think I just worked during like the big COVID Summer, like 2020 I think I just worked at like a gym in the Kids Clubhouse. So like, being with kids. Now I say that I don't even know how often I worked there, though. That summer. I literally my memory is so bad right now. But this past summer, I worked as a custodian at the middle school that my mom worked at, and that I went to, and that was just like, at that point we didn't like have to wear masks if you're like vaccinated kind of thing. Which I am. So I like, didn't really have to deal with COVID too much like it was still a lot on my mind. But like, yeah, it was very much of like, compared to last year. Not as-- 00:13:00No, yeah, not as bad.

LB: If you're willing, can you tell me if COVID affected you financially? financial strain on you?

MW: Honestly, I don't think so. No. Yeah. Cuz like I like I feel like that would have like happened. If I didn't have somewhere else. Like I had to, like, I was able to go home and like, not have to spend money on rent and stuff like that.

LB: So talking about returning to fall and 2020.

MW: Okay.

LB: When you learned that the UW was reopening and returning to in person classes for the fall semester, what was your reaction?

MW: Okay, I feel like we were kind of led on because I assumed that it would be like, I don't know, eventually, we would just like not have to wear masks everywhere. I don't know. But then when we like, you know, put the money down for it. And we're like, moved in everything. That's when they kind of like told us exactly how strict it was gonna be. That's how I remember the least I don't know for sure. But and then I also remember there being a lot of like, cases for 00:14:00COVID And I thought for sure we'd get sent back home and then we never really were. So yeah, I don't know. That was a confusing time.

LB: So that semester, UW Oshkosh chose to offer some classes in person, most of them online. Did you have any in person classes? Or were they mostly all online?

MW: I think they were all online for that semester. For me at least. Yeah.

LB: Maybe one class in person, the radio station.

MW: Oh my gosh, that was fall. Okay. It was one I know. It was like, I feel like I never left my dorm. Oh, yeah, that was literally it the radio station.

LB: Did you get to decide which classes were online? Or were you forced to schedule some classes based on like, what you had to take?

MW: I think I just like, based it off of what classes I needed to take still and they were all like online like that was it. Yeah, they were so Yeah.

00:15:00

LB: So you kind of already answered this. Did you start to struggle with online learning?

MW: A little bit, but like also at the same time, it's like, it was so much easier for exams, because the teachers knew that like, you know, like, people may be cheating so then they just like open it up for everyone to use open notes. And that was really nice. And now we're not doing that.

LB:I know. All these in person exams I have to study for.

MW: Yes! I forgot how to study now. I was worried about nursing students. I'm like, I need you guys to know what's going on.

LB: What was life at UWO, like, once you came back, like, how did you feel about the new school year?

MW: Like, sophomore year, so, yeah. I, there was like things going on. I remember I went to see like an outdoor movie, because like, that's what could be done. And then, so it was like The Hunger Games. And I went with like my friends, and that was like, honestly, the most I remember from that semester, but other than being in my room, because I was, like, genuinely, like terrified 00:16:00of getting COVID. And then, of course, like, my mind always goes to okay, well, let's say it's going to be like a really bad case of COVID and had to go to the hospital. And then that's, like, so much money for my parents then, cause I'm under their insurance and I was like, I got so stressed out about that and my parents were like, what, what's wrong with you? You're fine. But yeah, no, I was. I think I was very, like, still very cautious of COVID during that time, like for the school, so it was nice that they offered like activities like they did, though, so.

LB: So how'd you feel about the COVID protocols that were put in place at UW like the masking the testing in the dorms?

MW: Honestly, I did like getting tested every week with living in the dorms, because like, it was just like, a weight off my shoulders like, another week I'm good. Yeah. I didn't really understand wearing the masks though in the dorms, because I just figured, like, we're all gonna have to shower anyway, in the bathroom. We're not wearing masks for that. So like it's gonna spread regardless then, I don't know. It just didn't really make a lot of sense to me. But I guess 00:17:00like, now they've figured it out. Or they've change their ways, and they don't have to wear them anymore.

LB: So were you involved in any activities or clubs on campus that year? Or?

MW: I think I was involved with Titan TV? Maybe. I don't even remember what they had going on though to be fair. Well, I went to like the meetings. And I don't remember ever being on set though, that semester. But we did the radio station. So like, that was an activity, maybe for class. But I think that was about it.

LB: Did you-- do you find that the way you interact with people changed? Or do you find it harder to make social connections?

MW: Oh, 100% I think so much like I base like, if people are like friendly or not if they're like, I don't know if they're like smiling or something at me like they pass by and now everyone's wearing a mask and I can never tell like, I just feel judged 24/7. I know people aren't, but I don't know. It's yeah, it's 00:18:00very difficult for me to like, actually branch out in classes and talk to people. But we're working on that already.

LB: What do you think was the biggest change at UW Oshkosh you saw from the spring semester transferring to the fall semester?

MW: Oh, gosh, I don't even know. I think just like, that's a great question. I feel like it was just like, a complete 180 Because like, you literally were in class and then suddenly everything was online for the next semester. So I feel like that was like the main way that everything changed for me. But like, I don't know, maybe other people had different experiences with that.

LB:Did you ever feel that you were unsafe while you were on campus?

MW: No, I think I was, I felt good about it. Because like, we had to wear masks everywhere. And like, we were getting tested if you're living in dorms. So.. and like plus it was like, I think before people were getting it-- maybe not. I 00:19:00don't know when the vaccine came out. But like, I don't know, I didn't feel unsafe though. Yeah.

LB: How did you feel the departments and faculty did with the hybrid approach to education? Do you feel like you were getting like, a good education from it?

LB: Definitely depended on the class because like, again, like some of them, like did try harder. And they would like post videos of lectures and stuff like that, that I actually would look at and like listen to, but there's other classes that were purely just like, Okay, I don't even know what the professor sounded like or looked like I it was only like their Canvas page. And that was the whole learning experience, and that part kind of was a bummer. But it was also an easy class for me then because like I really would just like read a chapter of our book and then post a discussion about it. And that was the extent of the class and I did well in it. So those were the easiest. I did like those. But like, I also feel like I'm getting nothing out of it. But like I cannot tell you even what that class was called.

LB: So in the fall of 2021 vaccines are now readily available on campus and 00:20:00strongly advocated by administration and the CDC. What were your thoughts about the VAX Up campaign to get student vaccinated and win scholarships?

MW: Oh my gosh, I loved it. I literally, that was like awesome, it was such a good idea I love because like, we need money. And we also need like, people to be vaccinated. So like, this can all end or I don't even know how it all works, to be honest, but I thought it was a good idea like with what the outcome they were trying to get, like, more people vaccinated, and it worked. Like we got the 70%. I didn't get the scholarship. So that part kind of sucks. I was like, did I miss anemail. Like, maybe they tried to email. I was yeah, that part was a bummer. But it was a good idea.

LB: How much do you feel like things are getting back to normal? Or like, what do you what's considered normal to you?

MW: Okay, I feel like normal would be like, no masks anywhere. And I feel like it's so strange because it's just like on campus that I really have to wear anywhere like at work. I don't have to because I'm vaccinated and like, the 00:21:00stores and like grocery stores and restaurants or Yeah, unless they like specifically say like, wear masks like I don't have to wear it. So it's only like here, but I do tend to seem like find myself wearing my mask to more places just because I'm so used to it. And plus with a being called out. I'm just like constantly wearing it anyway. Oh, yeah. Now, yeah, my eyes will work. Seriously. It's so nice when I actually do this. I don't know how I've never done this before. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

LB: Are there any aspects about COVID life at school do you think won't change back?

MW: Oh, that's a good question. I don't know. I feel like there's like the smaller things like, hopefully at least, like people still washing their hands like a lot and stuff like, just like, the basics of it. I feel like but like I? I don't know, hopefully. But yeah.

LB: Are there any aspects of yourself that you think COVID has changed for good?

MW: Um, yeah, I think I'm definitely more of a germaphobe now, um, but I feel 00:22:00like it's kind of expected um, but even Okay, actually, to be fair before COVID even hit. My biggest pet peeve is when people cough without covering so like, I feel like that just like was very much something that was good that everyone had to wear masks and then like, at least that covered a little bit more even if they weren't covering with their like arm. But I think that just yeah, just definitely made me more like wary of, or more cautious of germs.

LB: So do you have anything else you wanted to add?

MW: No, I think that's pretty much it.

LB: All right. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

MW: My gosh, thanks for having me.