HB:This is Holly Baierl interviewing Mira LaCrosse on November 23, 2021 forcampus COVID stories, instructor Grace Lim is also with us. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences 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?
ML: Hello, I am Mira LaCrosse. Mira is spelled M I R A and LaCrosse is spelled LA C R O S S E.
HB: And then for the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, please tellus again who you are, your age, your major, and your year in school.
ML: My name is Mira LaCrosse. I am 21 years of age. I'm currently a graphicdesign major. And I'm a junior.
HB: And just to get started, we would like to get to know you a little bit.00:01:00Where did you grow up?
ML: So I grew up in a town called Waupun Wisconsin, which is about, I would say45 minutes south from Oshkosh. I grew up with my two parents, my mom, Bonnie and my dad, Jay. And I have a total of three siblings.
HB: And what can you tell me about the town? Like is it pretty small?
ML: It is quite small, I would say. I think the population is about 11,000people in total. And that is also including our three max security prisons. So it's overall very small town.
HB: Okay, and then tell me about your parents. What did they do?
ML: So my mom is a stay at home mom, and my dad is actually a factory worker. So00:02:00growing up, we had just two bedrooms, and it was just me and my siblings and in our small little happy town.
HB: And when did you start thinking about going to college? Was it always agiven in your house?
ML: So I am actually a first generation student. So I knew that I always wantedto go to college at a very young age. But I didn't always know where I wanted to go. So I actually applied and got accepted at the Fon du Lac campus with the Oshkosh University.
HB:And what made you choose to go to the Fond du Lac campus of UW Oshkosh?
ML: What I really liked about Fon du Lac, it was really close to my home. And Ijust like that it was a first two years of school, because I didn't really know what I wanted to do yet. 00:03:00
HB: Okay. And then when did you decide to come to the main campus?
ML: So last semester, I actually graduated with an associate's degree, and Iwanted to continue my education. So I decided to come here to Oshkosh and hope to get a Bachelor's of Fine Arts.
HB: Okay. Now, let's move on to the early days of COVID at UW Oshkosh, at thebeginning of the spring semester in 2020 where were you?
ML: So I was at the Fon du Lac campus, I had a total of four classes. And thenthat was basically my second semester with my college journey.
HB: And what was your living situation?
ML: So I lived with my father. Back at Waupun. It was just me and him.00:04:00
HB: And how far away was that from the Fond du Lac campus?
ML: I would say it is about 30 minutes in one direction.
HB: Okay. And when was the first time you remember hearing about COVID-19?
ML: So actually interesting story. I was in class, and a class mate received anemail from his phone. And he read it out loud to everyone. And it just said that classes were now being canceled. But instructors were to do online courses. And yeah.
HB: And that was the first time you'd ever like heard about it in the news oranything like that.
ML: That's still kind of like the first time it kind of hit me. I knew thatCOVID-19 was coming from China. But I did not know how quickly it was actually going to come to the US. 00:05:00
HB: And what was your initial reaction to the news about having classes onlineand stuff like that?
ML: I was kind of a bit in shock. I didn't realize that this, this was just allhappening so quickly. And I just, I didn't know how to make of the situation.
HB: And what were your feelings as well, when you heard in mid March thateverything started shutting down. Businesses? Pretty much everything.
ML: Um, again, I was just in this state of shock, like, I didn't realize whatwas going on with the situation. And I didn't realize how serious COVID-19 was, and it was all happening so quickly.
HB: Would you say? What would you say your feelings were about the disease00:06:00itself? Or like you possibly getting it or something like that?
ML: At first, I didn't really know what exactly COVID was. And I have heardstories from the news about people going into the hospitals and everything. Um, fortunately, I have not got the COVID. But I am fully vaccinated now, because I don't want to take my chances. Yeah.
HB: And when you initially heard the news, did you know it was going to be forthe rest of the year? Or how long did you think the online thing was gonna last?
ML: I had no idea how long this online thing was going to last. I was justexpecting actually, just probably till the end of the semester. But then they 00:07:00were talking about the next semester, the fall semester was masks and social distancing, and wiping down desks. So I was, I was like, I really wonder how long this is going to last for.
HB: Okay, and where did you go after classes got shut down? And online? You wereat home? You said with your dad? So did you do online classes?
ML: I did online classes straight from my bedroom, on my bed. That's where didmost of my life on a day to day activities. So I would just wake up, boot the computer up and just get ready for class?
HB: And how are other people in your home affected by COVID? Whether it be theirjob, or?
ML: I know my father, he was talking about how the company he was working at,00:08:00they were unsure what to do with COVID. Because they actually when they work, they're always in close contact. They're not six feet apart. So they were just worried how are they able to work at these conditions?
HB: And what did that situation end up being? Did he stay at work? Did he getsent home?
ML: He does stay at work, but it was, had to wear a mask. And it was just moredifficult to do work for him.
HB: Okay, and how were COVID protocols dealt with in your hometown as far asmasking or social distancing?
ML: I know that we only actually have one grocery store in my hometown, butmasks were enforced and social distancing was as well. But I know at the start 00:09:00of the pandemic, everyone was kind of rushing into the stores to get the supplies they thought they needed, like toilet paper and stuff like that.
HB: Okay, and since since you did get sent home and had to do classes online,did that mean you got to spend more time with your family or what were the challenges that like, happened because you had to stay home?
ML: Um, I know with the start of the pandemic, we were kind of on lockdown. So Iactually was kind of worried if I could even travel to visit my mom or my siblings. I guess I didn't actually spend more time with my family. It was kind of more just by myself. Just in my bedroom. Being there? 00:10:00
HB: And did you have any jobs during that time? Or did you work at all?
ML: I did. So I worked at the local library for five years. And during this, myboss just came up to me. And he said that there isn't really work for us, because I was only part time. So I was kind of laid off for two weeks. Until he gave me a call. He said, "You can do remote work if you'd like."
HB: Then did you end up doing that?
HB: Okay. And regarding your classes and schoolwork, how did you find thetransition to online learning?
ML: Um, I personally found it very difficult at first because I'm a more of avisual learner, and feel I need to be in a classroom environment to fully get my 00:11:00learning potential. So when the transition of me going on to a screen, it was a bit of a struggle, but I eventually made it.
HB: Did you have any labs or hands-on things that were very difficult totransition online?
ML: During that semester, I did not have any labs, which I was grateful for.
HB: And what were your feelings about finishing up the semester from off campus?
ML: I just really just wanted to push through. I really wanted this semester toend because this was quite difficult for me.
HB: Okay, and what did you miss the most about not being on campus during that time?
ML: I'm not quite sure. I just missed going to class every day, and just beingthere and saying that I'm going to school. 00:12:00
HB: Okay, and how did COVID impact your major? You said you had an associate'sdegree did that?
ML: Yep. So when I first started my college journey, and fall 2019, I didn'tknow which direction I want to go. And the spring semester, actually, when I was taking, that was kind of a more of trying to explore what I wanted to do. And that was kind of a bad decision, because that is when COVID hit so. But right now, I made it with associate's degree and glad to have it.
HB: And then what about friends or a social life? How did that? How did you stayin contact with them once you got sent home?
ML: Well, we stayed in contact through social media. That was the only way I00:13:00could actually get in contact with them, because there was no meeting up anywhere. So it was just usually through Instagram or Snapchat.
HB: Okay, and how are you affected by COVID? Did you know anyone who got sick?
ML: My older brother did get COVID. And he was laid off of work for about twoweeks. But other than that, none of my immediate family had COVID.
HB: Okay, and we're was anybody in your family impacted financially, like losejobs because of it?
ML: Me personally, I was just laid off for two weeks for it. And it was just adifficult situation for my dad with the transition.
HB: Okay. And then once the semester ended, how did that change? Like going into00:14:00summer with social life work or anything like that?
ML: Um, I think for me, it was more of what can I do during the summer with theCOVID restriction? Like, can I go swimming in public? Or can I go to the grocery store and do any fun activities, but I just tried my best with the summer.
HB: Okay, and now we're going to talk about fall of 2020. Did you return toin-person classes at all in the fall?
ML: It was half and half. So I had some in-person classes and has some online.
HB: And how did that go?
ML: Um, I think it was overall pretty good. I miss being in person. But I know00:15:00with the COVID still going on, I could understand why they were still online classes.
HB: And what was life at UWO, specifically the Fond du Lac campus, once you didcome back to in person classes,
ML: I felt very empty. When I got there, there was like nobody there. And Inoticed that there was a lot of chairs and tables all distant, and there was wipes at the corners, and it kind of just felt very different from what it used to be.
HB: Okay, how did you feel about the COVID protocols that were put in place oncampus with masking and distancing?
ML: Um, I think it was a good choice. On the University's part, I think they00:16:00were overall trying to do best and make light of the situation.
HB: Okay, how did your interactions with other people change? Were you able tosocialize more or see your friends?
ML: I was able to see some of my friends in my classes. But that was the onlytime I got to see them.
HB: Okay, and then were you able to meet new people in your classes? Or how didthat impact--?
ML: I want to say, I like met new friends, I did see new classmates, here and there.
HB: And how do you feel the departments and faculty did with the hybrid approachto education? Did you feel like you were learning enough?
ML: I think overall, we were just trying to do the best in this situation. Iknow some professors probably struggled more than others. But I think overall 00:17:00they did a good job.
HB: And when did you feel that things started to go back to normal? Or when didyou start to feel like that?
ML: Um, I feel like we're not actually back to normal yet.
HB: So with being on the Fond du Lac campus, did you have to COVID test?
ML: Yes, we had COVID tests once a week. And it was through like, we scheduledlike through an app to get our COVID test.
HB: And how often did you have to do that?
ML: That was once a week.
HB: Okay. And then I think it was the spring of 2021 when vaccines becameavailable on campus. Or least they were available on campus here in Oshkosh, I 00:18:00don't know if they were in Fond du Lac or not.
ML: I don't think they were. But I got my vaccine through Walgreens. So I didn'tgo to University.
HB: Okay, and you said that it still doesn't feel normal to you? What would haveto happen? Or what I'd have to be like for you to be able to call it normal again.
ML: Um, I think overall for normal to happen would be no masks. The socialdistancing doesn't have to be enforced. And the overall COVID rates going back down to almost little to none.
HB: Okay. And then obviously, there was a lot of things about COVID life that00:19:00have changed, are there any things that you think won't change back or that will stay because of the experience?
ML: Um, that's a good question. I really have to think about that one, um, Ithink with the COVID thing. There's a lot of more health precautions like hand sanitizer and disposable masks and stuff like that. So I think that was kind of a great eye opener for that. But I don't know what the future holds.
HB: And what has living and learning during the time of COVID taught you about yourself.
ML: Um, another great question. Um, I think overall, it kind of just It taught00:20:00me that I'm kind of like living in a historical moment, like we're in a global pandemic, and I am 21 living in it. So that's what I was just kind of learning about myself.
HB: And having the pandemic be during your early 20s, and things like that. Isthere anything that you feel you've missed out on because that time period was kind of taken over by COVID?
ML: Um, I think? Absolutely. Because I would consider at a young age, and I feellike, there were probably more opportunities I could have done without the COVID. But I'm just trying to live in this new world.
HB: Do you have anything else you want to add about your experience with COVID?
ML: Just a learning process. And yeah.00:21:00
GL: Before we, before I let her sign off, I just want to double check couple ofthings on what what was your role at the library?
ML: I was just a desk assistant.
GL: And Assistant, what did you do for the library? Which library was this?
ML: This was at the Waupon Public Library, and I just kind of helped with books.And this was actually the time where the DMV was sending people to get their temporary license. So I was helping with that.
GL: And the you were working remotely. Okay. And then what made you decide to towork during the time of COVID? I mean, rather than just sort of hunkering down.
ML: Well, money, like I'm a college student and I, I needed money. So I havebills like groceries and insurance and stuff like that.
GL: And also, did you earn the your associate's degree at the Fon du Lac campus?00:22:00
GL: Was there a graduation ceremony?
ML: There was for me? Yes.
GL: How did that how did that work out?
ML: Um, I believe it was at the theater and you just had a sign up. I didn'tattend because I didn't feel comfortable. But I believe that's how it went.
GL: Okay. And in you did not go because of the pandemic.
GL: So was that something that you wish you could have give back?
ML: Now that I'm thinking about it, yes. But I can always, you know, haveanother one. So,
GL: Okay. Did you take pictures with anything on the day have to do on the dayof your graduation?
ML: No, I was just waiting for my degree to come in the mail.
HB: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contributionto the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh. 00:23:00
ML: Thank you