Interview with Rabekah Yang, 04/14/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: Okay, this is Grace Lim on April the 14th 2022. Interviewing Rabekah Yang for Campus COVID Stories. Before we start, can you just tell me your name and spell it out for us?

RY: Yes, my name is Rabekah Yang. And Rabekah is spelled RABEKAH. And then my last name, Y A N G.

GL: And again for a clear audio recording, tell us again, your name and your major and your year here at UW Oshkosh.

RY: My name is Rabekah Yang.

GL: And your major,

RY: Oh, my major right now is Information Systems. And then this is, this is my third year here.

GL: So tell me when the university was shut down in March of 2020. What was your 00:01:00major then? And do you recall? What was that like?

RY: Yes. So originally, I was a nursing major. And

GL: In you know, when the university was shut down, what went through your head?

RY: Oh, so at first, I was actually pretty scared of the pandemic, ummm I knew that it was like it wasn't here yet. But everywhere around in the United States, everyone was getting COVID. And I kept up with the news. I saw people were dying. And it was very scary. So I was happy that the university decided to move everything online. So I finished that semester online. And I was still scared 00:02:00at home.

GL: That where were you living at the time?

RY: At the time I was living with my grandparents in Appleton.

GL: And what was that like? Going home? You know, living with your grandparents were, I don't know, how old they were. How old are your grandparents?

RY: My grandma, she's in her 60s, my grandpa, he's in his 80s. So I was I was scared for them. You know, I wasn't very scared of catching COVID myself just I was more scared for my grandparents, me catching it, bringing it home to them getting them sick. You know, it's possible they could have lost their life because of me, or you know, they could have lost their life earlier, then.

GL: And then, you know, when you said you first came to UW Oshkosh, and you chose the major of nursing, what, what compelled you to do that?

00:03:00

RY: My mom, she works in the healthcare field. And I just grew up loving the sciences. And I love Anatomy, Human Anatomy. And I just really wanted to pursue something, you know, a career that would allow me to help other people. But I never thought something like COVID would affect me or scare me that much to make me change my mind.

GL: And at what point did you decide to when you say change your mind? What do you mean by that?

RY: So before the pandemic hit us, I worked as a CNA. And so I was required to work as a CNA to get into the nursing program. So that's what I did. And after working there, all night after during, during my time working as a CNA, that's when the pandemic hit us. And working as a CNA It was scary during the pandemic. 00:04:00So I worked as a CNA for about like, one or two months during the pandemic. And that's when it hit me and all that that's when the fear hit me. That's when I got overwhelmed by all of the sick people. And I didn't know if I wanted to continue that because what if in the future, there's something worse than COVID.

GL: When you were working as a CNA, what kind of what did you have to do?

RY: We had to start wearing masks, we had to wear protective gear, PPE and we just had to be careful and things like that. People, like the people that I was 00:05:00taking care of, they got sick, but I didn't know if they had COVID or not. And for me, it was very scary because like, you don't know if they have it or not, and you have no choice but to go into work, and I'll take care of them. Because that's, that was my job. And I couldn't just, I didn't just leave in the middle of my shift, and just say, you know, like, I can't do this, I don't want to get sick. You know, I was there. So I had to do my job.

GL: And then you had to go home, and then then you will be with your elderly grandparents. What was that like?

RY: For me, that was very scary, I didn't really want to be close to them. So I have my own room. So I try and stay in my room as much as possible. I try not to go out so much. I only went out to work and to school. That was a little before 00:06:00we shut down. And then once we had a stay home, you know, from school, I will still going to work. But I tried my best to stay away from my grandparents. And it was hard. And I just I felt like I wasn't connected to them as much as before the pandemic,

GL: Did they understand what was going on?

RY: A little they do watch the news. So they kind of understood. And they, they wanted me to pursue what I wanted to pursue. But for me, like I wasn't willing to risk losing them just to pursue nursing.

GL: So after the university, um, closed, and went remote in middle of March 2020. And you said you finish the semester. What happened after that? Did you, 00:07:00umm, what happened after that?

RY: So before the semester even finished, I was sent an email letting me know that I was accepted into the nursing program. So after I finished the spring semester, during the whole entire summer, I was just relaxing at home, I was just with my family, I didn't go out much. And oh, and I quit my CNA, you know, before the semester ended, but it was during the pandemic. So during the summer, I was just planning out what I would do to earn enough to pay for my nursing, my nursing education. But then, as summer was about to end, so it was about August, that's when, you know, I really, I really, I don't know, I didn't cry, but I 00:08:00just I just umm. I really asked myself if I really wanted to pursue nursing, because if I was then you know, I would start in September. So once I start, there's no backing out. I mean, of course I could just back out. But before even starting, I really wanted to make sure that I wanted to pursue nursing. And it was it was literally the day before. (unclear), the fall semester started that I withdrew. So that's when I sent an email to the College of Nursing and I told them that I'm going to withdraw from the College of Nursing, because I wasn't willing to put my family at risk.

GL: And then that fall you did you work?

00:09:00

RY: No, that fall. I just stayed home because I did not want to catch COVID And there were a lot of cases of COVID, So I just stayed home I didn't work. I didn't go anywhere.

GL: And then the spring of 2021 Where were you? Did you also stay home then?

RY: Yes, I also stayed home.

GL: And then when did you, did you ever work? I mean, tell me about that. You left the CNA position, but did you get another job at some point?

RY: No. So I took a break from everything for a whole year so that okay, so I took a break from everything for a whole year. Then I was planning to come back to school fall 2021 But I didn't I didn't because I didn't know what I was 00:10:00gonna go for. I didn't want to come back to school and just take random classes. I didn't want to waste money. So I stayed home another semester. And that's when I decided to work as a customer service call agent for Mason companies. I worked from home. And yeah.

GL: And then how did you settle in on the Information Systems major.

RY: So my stepdad, he's actually in that field. So I got some information from him. But the reason why I kind of wanted to go into that field was because during the pandemic, I saw how much technology was helping everyone. Everyone was doing meetings, via zoom via on Microsoft Teams, Google meet, everyone was 00:11:00doing everything online. And I saw how much technology was helping everyone. And for me, like I'm a person who really wants to help people. And originally, I was going for nursing, I wanted to help people and information systems, I can still help people just in a different way.

GL: So the year that you took off, I mean, you know, people's mental health were just all over the place during the pandemic. I mean, how was your mental health at that time?

RY: Honestly, it was bad. I felt like it was the end of the world. I didn't know if things were gonna go back to normal. I didn't know if I was ever going to see my friends again, are you know, I didn't know if I was going to ever go back to school. I was scared that I was just going to be trapped at home. And just have to. I don't know, like, I didn't know, I didn't know what was going to happen.

00:12:00

GL: What? What finally set you out in the world again? Yes.

RY: Well, my, my cousins from Milwaukee, they, they got COVID. And, you know, they recovered, they were fine. And then, um, you know, I, I started seeing the world differently. So, when the pandemic hit, I thought it was the end of the world. But after a year, or a year and a half, I realized that the world has to, not the world, me, I have to, I have to move past this because the world is still going on outside of my house. You know, I can't just stay trapped inside my house. I have to get out of my house. I have to start, you know, planning my future getting on with my life. I can't just stay trapped inside my house.

GL: I think when you came back? Well, definitely, I think that spring, I think 00:13:00the vaccine was available in the spring of 2021. I mean, what were your initial thoughts about that?

RY: For me, I didn't know if it was gonna work or not, you know, the vaccine was created so quickly. I didn't know if it was gonna work. So I did get vaccinated, you know, when it came out. I didn't get vaccinated till summer then. So I waited a couple months. And after getting vaccinated, I still wasn't that comfortable. Like, like coming back to school. But I you know, that was a step that was a step towards getting out of the house

GL: Was your um, you know, how did your grandparents feel about you being at home that entire time and, and how were they doing?

00:14:00

RY: Well, they felt safer, knowing that I was home, knowing that, you know, I wouldn't, you know, that there's a lower chance of me catching COVID If I just stayed home, you know, what's possible from for me to catch COVID on, you know, through my other family members, you know, the people that the breadwinners, or the breadwinner of my family, they could catch COVID or bring it home to all of us, but knowing that I was home, they knew there was a lesser chance or a lower chance of all of us catching COVID But for them, they were a bit worried, you know, when they're, like if they passed away, I wouldn't have anything like I wouldn't have a career I wouldn't have anything to support me. Like, what if I 00:15:00actually just stayed home never went back to school? You know? And I was like 25 or 30. I, what would I do like over work at a company for me, like, if I have to do that to survive, then I would but for me, I want to pursue something that could support me and also, you know, give me give me a reason to live. I want a reason to live.

GL: You said you were living with your grandparents, but your mom you said is in the health care. This isn't your stepdad is your technology. Where were they?

RY: So, they live. They lived in Milwaukee. I did not grow up with my mom or my stepdad. I grew up with my grandparents. But I do have a close relationship with my mom.

GL: Okay, so um, you know, it's couple of things I just want to get where were you from originally? Where were you born? Your hometown?

00:16:00

RY: Yeah, so I was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, but my grandparents, umm. They are from Thailand and Laos.

GL: And then how did you end up here at UW Oshkosh? I mean, was that your first choice? Or are you looking at other places?

RY: I was actually going to go to Carroll. But I decided to attend UW Oshkosh because it's, it's a bit closer to home. I wanted to stay close to my grandparents to help them. You know, I'm the one who sets up their appointments, and I'm the one who helps translate for them, you know, if they can't get a translator or interpreter? Yeah, I help them with everything.

GL: And, you know, during the time that you were at home, how are you able to? I mean, do your grandparents work? You know, so I mean, that somehow, though? 00:17:00Yeah, go ahead.

RY: Oh, so my grandparents do not work. They're both retired. And we rely on my uncle. My uncle is the breadwinner. He's the one who works and takes care of the bills and takes care of all of us.

GL: And you said that you are also you know, you're working to help pay for your own education? Is that I mean, are you the, who pays for your, your education, I guess,

RY: For my education, it's mainly the financial aid, that helps me a lot. But for nursing, we had to pay an extra fee for the lab for the lab portion of the nursing program, which was like 2k. And my financial aid would not have covered that. I could have pulled out a loan, but I rather pay out of pocket and just pay it all upfront.

00:18:00

GL: So now that you're back on campus, I mean, how does it feel to you?

RY: To me, it almost feels normal again. Yeah, right now, I'm not I'm not even wearing a mask. I can you know, if people feel more comfortable than you know, I'm willing to I'm not against mask. And yeah, I feel like it's almost normal again.

GL: Do you miss the idea of, do you miss the idea of going to nursing school at all?

RY: I do. You know, that's something that I really wanted to pursue before the pandemic. You know, sometimes I do think about going back to nursing, but then only think about, you know, the time when the pandemic first hit us. And what if something like that happens again, you know, am I gonna back out again, I don't have time to go back and forth between different majors, I just have to choose 00:19:00something and just, you know, pursue it.

GL: What I was living and working and learning in the time of COVID taught you about yourself.

RY: Growing up, I don't, I'm the type of person who likes to plan out my life. And I'm a pretty punctual person, as well. So because of COVID my plans completely changed. And it just made me realize that you can plan out your life, but things never go as expected.

GL: Is there anything else you would like to add that we talked about all things

RY: While I'm just I'm glad to be back here. I'm glad that I'm alive. I'm glad 00:20:00that you know everyone is still. Everyone is still here. Everyone is moving past the pandemic. Everyone is starting to accept that. You know, this is part of our life now and we just have to live on. We can't. We can't stay trapped inside our houses. We just have to move on.

GL: Well thank you for sharing your stories with us and for campus COVID stories.

(Start of Part 2)

BS: This is Bri Storino interviewing Rabekah Yang on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Please tell us your name and what year and major you are here.

RY: My name is Rabekah Yang. This is my third year at UW Oshkosh. And I would be 00:21:00considered undecided. But I'm thinking Information Systems.

BS: First, I would like to get some background information. Can you tell us where you grew up? And what your living situation is where you live kind of in with?

RY: So I grew up in a small town called Appleton, and I still live there. I live there with my grandparents, and my uncle and his kids and his wife.

BS: And what are your parents or your grandparents highest education level?

RY: So my grandparents Lien ever went to school. They're from overseas. They're from Thailand and Laos. My mom. Um, she was a respiratory therapist, so she has her associate's degree in respiratory therapy. And my father, I don't know much 00:22:00about him

BS: Was going to college, something that was expected of you.

RY: Not expected but encouraged. So my grandparents and my mother, they wanted me to go to college to educate myself and find a career for myself.

BS: And how did you end up at University Wisconsin Oshkosh?

RY: So I'm from Appleton, I wanted to go to a university that wasn't too far from home, because I still wanted to take care of my grandparents. I'm the one who sets up their appointments and all that. So I found UW Oshkosh and I just decided to enroll.

BS: What year was that? And what was the major that you came in with?

00:23:00

RY: So that was back in 2018. And when I entered UW Oshkosh, I went for nursing.

BS: And what made you decide on nursing?

RY: My mom, she works in the healthcare field. My aunt works in the healthcare field. And I just grew up with them, explaining what they did at work. And I don't know why just I've always loved the sciences. So

BS: What did they tell you that kind of made you think like this was the right field to go into?

RY: Healthcare, taking care of other people being able to use medicine to help people.

00:24:00

BS: Tell us about your first year here at UW Oshkosh. So the fall of 2018.

RY: So when I got here, I didn't have any friends. A lot of my friends from high school, they, they decided to just go straight into the workforce. And my friends who decided to go to college, they didn't. They didn't come here with me. So when I got here, I didn't have any friends. But I made I made four friends. The first semester that I was here. I did not hang out with them much. But we studied together. We did homework. We had classes together, we got lunch together. And my second semester still the first year. I joined Alpha Lambda Delta. It's an honor society. So I was able to connect with other students who 00:25:00were also passionate about their education and determined to do well.

BS: What kind of classes stood out to you that first year?

RY: I'd say my science classes. Well, my first year I just took the first level biology class, but I really loved it. I love the sciences.

BS: Alright, then going onto your sophomore year, so the fall of 2019 When did you apply to the nursing school?

RY: So I couldn't apply until I finished a certain amount of science courses for nursing. I don't remember exactly when, but it was in January. I remember the deadline was January 30. And oh, yeah, I'm sorry. That's all.

BS: Do you remember your GPA at the time going or kind of like applying into the 00:26:00nursing program?

RY: Yeah. So applying I had a 3.6 or 3.7.

BS: So when did you start working as a CNA?

RY: I started working as a CNA in December of 2018, I believe. Oh, I'm sorry. It was December of 2019.

BS: And where were you a CNA?

RY: I worked for Clarity Care. I worked at two facilities. They were both in Appleton.

BS: Can you describe your tasks as a CNA kind of your daily things that you'd run into?

RY: Yeah, so I just helped the people in the facility I helped with bathing, 00:27:00feeding. medications.

BS: What did you like about that job?

RY: Being able to help people who couldn't do it on their own?

BS: And what did you find challenging?

RY: Communication, it was very difficult. A lot of the people that I was helping the they were mentally impaired. So if I asked them if they were hungry, some of them could respond and told me Yeah, like, I want food right now. Or some like you just knew that you had a feeling because it was lunchtime or dinner time.

BS: And even before COVID hit, did you have any sort of see it being a CNA as a difficult job? Did you have any sort of doubts before COVID hit about going into nursing?

00:28:00

RY: No, not at all. Before COVID hit us. I knew I wanted to do that down. When I became a CNA before COVID. I loved it. I loved the job.

BS: Alright, so to the early days of the pandemic, after the university, shut its doors and went remote. What did you do?

RY: So everything was moved online. I was still taking classes online. And I was still working as a CNA.

BS: So you're working as a CNA, the early days of the pandemic?

RY: Yes. So I applied and started working as a CNA, before the pandemic, and I was working as a CNA during the beginning of the pandemic.

BS: So, how did you feel working in the pandemic? Like the early days? And then 00:29:00kind of how did your family react to that as well.

RY: I was afraid because there weren't that many cases here yet. But everywhere in the United States, like on the news, I was hearing or not hearing, but like seeing the numbers of the number of cases, number of COVID cases. And that made me worry for my own family and for myself. And so I was very hesitant of going back to work going into work, and just doing my job.

BS: What did you do to avoid bringing COVID back to your grandparents?

RY: At the time, so my mom works in the hospital, so she sent us a few of her 95 00:30:00masks. That was more for me, because I worked at a facility taking care of people. So one, one way I was able to take precautions was wear a mask to work and at work. They didn't provide us with masks at first, like you know on when COVID hit us, they didn't have masks for us. They didn't have proper they didn't have PPE for us, during the early days of the pandemic,

BS: So you're no longer a CNA, and you're no longer in nursing? At what point did you decide that you just couldn't be a CNA anymore? Walk us kind of through that.

RY: Yeah, so like I said, I was afraid of going into work. And during my last, I 00:31:00think it was like, during the last week, or just before I just left, though, one of the facilities that I was working at the people there, they got sick. And I was wearing a mask. And I didn't know if they caught the cold, you know, the flu, or if they caught COVID, they did not get tested. You know, and my manager, they, they just said, Oh, don't worry about it. Like, you know, it's, it's probably just the cold. And I was I was afraid that I would catch COVID and bring it back to my family. So that was like the kind of the last week that I was working there. That's what I decided, you know, I cannot take this risk. So I literally, well, first, I tried emailing them, I was like, Hey, is it okay? If 00:32:00I just take off work for a couple of weeks and stuff. But they're like, no, like, this is your job. And your, like your coworkers are depending on you. Because usually there are two CNAs on the shift. So it's me and another CNA, so they're like your coworkers coming into work, you can't just leave, you know, you have to come in. So I was like, I cannot take this risk. You know, so I literally just left the job. And I emailed them. And I was like, I'm sorry, but I will not be attending work anymore. You know, due to the severity of the pandemic. I didn't even give my two weeks' notice I just left I just emailed them. And I was like, I'm not coming in tomorrow on salary.

BS: Did they ever reach out to you again, after that?

RY: They did a couple of months after just to ask me how or how but like my experience with the company, like a quick survey, but yeah, that's all.

00:33:00

BS: And what was the reaction from your family when you told them that you're no longer a CNA?

RY: They were, they were okay. They were worried so well, they were worried that I would catch COVID. So they were okay with me leaving my CNA job, but they were also worried about what I would do with my life.

BS: And when you quit being a CNA, what did you do for the rest of the summer of 2020?

RY: When I quit during the summer, I just stayed home. I didn't go out much. I was actually working on a project with my family. Or my uncle and my cousin. We built a porch, or we had a port a dock. And we tore it down. And we rebuilt it 00:34:00because it's like 10 years old, or 15 or 20 years old. So we yeah, we rebuilt the dock that took about like it took longer than we expected there were like three of us. So it took us almost all summer, maybe like two and a half months.

BS: And were you planning on going back to school fall 2020.

RY: Maybe not planning but I was debating because I found out that I got accepted into the nursing program before summer. So in even when I was working as a CNA, like I, I was sent an email letting me know that I got accepted into the college of nursing in April. And so during the whole summer, like I knew I 00:35:00was accepted, I knew I would be a college nursing student in the fall. So during the whole summer, I was debating if I should go back during Fall, fall 2020.

BS: And when you were accepted into the nursing program, kind of what was your initial excuse me initial thoughts or reaction feeling?

RY: I was so excited because I worked so hard to do well, especially in my intro nursing courses, my science courses I worked hard and my CNA job. I know I left it, but I worked. I worked hard to, to get that experience as well.

BS: So when and why did you withdraw from the nursing program?

RY: So just before fall 2020, fall of 2020 started for that semester started. 00:36:00It's when I realized that the case, like COVID cases were not dropping. They were, they were still, like, there were still a lot of COVID cases in the area. So that's, um, that's what I decided to just drop out of the nursing program, because during the whole summer, I was debating if I should go back, and just before the summer, the fall semester started, I realized that COVID was not just going to disappear. You know? Like, I thought, like at the beginning of summer, I thought, and all maybe after summer, COVID will die down, but after summer, it did not die down.

BS: And what was the reaction from your family after you told them that you're going to withdraw from the nursing program?

RY: My grandparents, they were, they were worried. Because they wanted me to 00:37:00pursue nurse nursing if I really wanted to, but they were also scared. So I don't know exactly how they felt. But my mom, she wanted me to continue, even though there was COVID because she works at the hospital. And she's like, hey, like, as long as you take precaution, and you wear a mask and you wear the protective, you know, the PPE like, you should be fine. Just continue your nursing education. Don't let this stop you. But for like, I wasn't living with my mom, I was living with my grandparents. I just, I did not want to risk that. So some people were happy that I decided to withdraw. Some people were not so happy.

BS: And what sort of precautions did you take in order to avoid contracting COVID

00:38:00

RY: I stayed home, I stopped going out with friends, I stopped eating out. So the only person who went out was my uncle and his wife. They went to work; they went grocery shopping. And after a while only my uncle went grocery shopping. So we tried our best to stay home, not go out. And only have my uncle go out.

BS: Did you try to have that serious restriction from like the beginning of being sent home like you did that right? When you got sent home? Like you're staying home? Only your uncle was kind of going out throughout the summer too.

RY: Yeah, so it was after I left my CNA job. That's when we decided okay, only uncle is gonna go out the rest of us. We're gonna stay Hmm. Almost we really have to go out.

BS: Alright, and are you and your family vaccinated?

00:39:00

RY: Yes, we are.

BS: Was it ever frustrating? Taking these precautions and having experience being a CNA during COVID? Seeing people debate on if COVID was real debates around the vaccine, that sort of thing.

RY: For me, yeah. I know some of my friends. They don't believe that COVID was real. They're like, oh, the government's just trying to scare us. But they, they're not in the health care field. And they're not out there taking care of people who are sick, so they didn't know. And my mom sure works in the health care. I know I keep repeating this. But my mom, she's a respiratory therapist, she was directly working with COVID patients, and she would always call me and complain. There are so many people who are getting sick and they're not staying 00:40:00home. You know, they're purposely going out, getting all their sick and people are dying from this. They need to realize that we are running out of beds at the hospital. We don't have enough ventilators. So hearing that from my mom made me realize that you know, like this, this is serious. It's not just it's not just it's not fake.

BS: And after all these experiences after talking with your mom, and you're withdrawing from the nursing program, when were you planning on going back to school?

RY: I don't even know if I was planning to go back to school honestly. After I withdrew from the nursing program, I really thought, you know, maybe I should just stay home for now just let my uncle and his wife take care of me until. I 00:41:00don't know, like, maybe I'll just work at a company. But then like, I really don't want to. But I didn't know if I wanted to go back to school. Or if I could go back to school.

BS: What did you do when you weren't enrolled in school?

RY: For the first couple months after withdrawing from the nursing program, so during the fall of 2020, I just stayed home. I really don't do much. I just relaxed, just watched K dramas and just ate stayed home. Yeah, I didn't. I didn't do anything.

BS: Do you ever regret taking the time off from school?

RY: A part of me? Yes. But if I never took off, or if I never withdrew from 00:42:00college, I probably would have. Well, I would still be in nursing right now then. So I don't know. I don't know if I Yeah, it's hard.

BS: How has the pandemic affected your mental health?

RY: During the pandemic, I was, it was kind of bad. There were many days that I felt very sad. I wouldn't say depressed. But I was I was so sad. I just felt like it was the end of the world. And I felt like there was no hope. That's, that's how I felt.

BS: Did you ever seek any sort of help for your mental health?

RY: I did not receive professional help or outside help. But during that time, I 00:43:00had a lot of time to just reflect on my own life. And just because you know what, during school, I was just studying and doing homework all the time going to class trying to get here trying to get there. But during the pandemic, when I just stayed home, I had a lot of time to just reflect on my life. Think about think about life, I guess.

BS: Did you ever work during your time off from school?

RY: I actually did. So I worked as a well, I worked from home as a customer service call agent. And that wasn't until spring of 2020, I believe.

BS: And how was that experience?

RY: It was great. It was great working from home. It was different. I've never heard from home before. And I was able to communicate with customers from all 00:44:00over the United States. It was it was interesting hearing their stories of how COVID affected them. And to me, like I realized that even though there was a pandemic, people were still they were still living their lives. They were still they were ordering stuff. Like tents and stuff to go camping. They were ordering pools for pool parties or birthday parties. And I realized that just because, you know, there's a pandemic doesn't mean it's the end of the world. People were still trying to live their lives.

GL: What kind of company did you work for?

RY: Oh, so I wrote for a company called Mason companies. Um, it's a company that it's kind of like Amazon in a way. So there were warehouses and people could 00:45:00just order a bunch of random stuff like pools, clothes, shoes.

GL: And you said that some people shared stories about them that their timing to COVID I mean, do you recall any conversation with them?

RY: Well, I wasn't sure about myself, but if they were willing to share their stories with me, I would just comment like, oh, okay, like that's, that's nice. But once specific story. There was, there was a lady, an older lady. She was ordering shoes. And she kind of told me she was like, hey, like, do you think also? I have when I was working, I had a screen in front of me. So I could see the images of the shoes and the products that they wanted to order. They had 00:46:00catalogs. So if the lady she wanted to order a certain pair of shoe, and she asked me, hey, do you think this would be appropriate for a funeral role? And I was like, oh, yeah, like I think, I think it would be appropriate. And she's like, do you think it's cute? And I was like, yeah, so then she's like, Yeah, so I'm going to be attending a funeral this weekend. And then she went on and explained how, um, one of her family members passed away from COVID. So she was explaining how she was ordering that pair of shoes to attend the funeral. She was explaining how, oh, yeah, and I think I mentioned she's older. I think she was like, 80 or something. But she was explaining how it was kind of sad how she lost some family members to COVID. But, um, she couldn't do anything about it. 00:47:00So that's one story that I remember the shoes.

BS: So would you say that this job kind of encouraged you in a way to get back to school, hearing the stories and seeing that people are going on and kind of going on with life and living?

RY: Definitely. So hearing all of these stories, and just seeing how the world was still revolving, you know, the world was still going on, living outside of my house, and I was just trapped inside my house. It made me realize that I need to, you know, make maybe it's time for me to get back out there. I can't just stay trapped inside this house forever. And I definitely did not want to work that job for the rest of my life. So I was like, you know, maybe it's time to 00:48:00start planning my life start. Up, maybe even go back to school. That's when I decided to. Yeah.

BS: And what did, excuse me? What year did you enroll back into school?

RY: So just the spring semester? Well, technically, I enrolled. Well, yeah, I enrolled for the spring semester.

BS: And I know you said that you're technically undecided. But what are you kind of leaning towards?

RY: Yeah, so I was thinking information systems, because when I was working as a customer service agent, I saw how much technology was able to help everyone and not just that job, like when we first shut down it when UW Oshkosh first shut down, everything moved online. You know, we were doing class online, all the 00:49:00homework, quizzes, exams, everything was online. And that with that, along with my customer service job, I realized that technology is very important. And technology was able to help us kind of get through the pandemic and not just that, like, Tik Tok blew up during the pandemic, like everyone was on Tik Tok, and everyone was able to connect with each other, you know, share, share their I don't know, their life, their stories and stuff. And I just, I don't know why I kind of fell in love with technology and my stepdad. He works in the IT field. So I asked him, I asked him what he does, and he told me a bit about his job. So then I you know, I kind of I kind of started researching about jobs in 00:50:00technology. And then I decided to see if UW Oshkosh offered anything.

BS: How did your grandparents react to you going back to school?

RY: At first, they were worried, or they were scared. I mean, they were worried and scared for the past year and a half. But um, I explained to my grandma, because I'm a lot closer to my grandma. So I was talking to my grandma one day. And I just told her, I was like, hey, are you? Are you okay with me going back to school because I need to move on in life, I can't just, I can't just depend on Uncle forever. uncle and his wife, I need to, I need to find something for myself, and I don't want to work at a company job, or I don't want to work at a, at a factory. You know, I want to find something for myself, I want to find 00:51:00something that I'm passionate about. For me, like, living life includes finding a career that that will make me happy.

BS: So you're currently taking information systems courses.

RY: I'm only taking the intro right now, because I just entered the College of Business. So I still have to take a bunch of pre core cover business classes.

BS: How is that intro class going?

RY: I love it. I love the instructor as well, or the professor. And the everything that we're learning in there. I like it. There was one module that I didn't really understand. But I'm probably not going to go into that I'm probably going to specialize in something else. But overall, I love the class.

BS: Do you ever think about going back to nursing?

RY: Sometimes, you know, sometimes I do. But what if in the future there's 00:52:00something worse than COVID? Or even something that's similar to COVID? That, that appears, you know, am I gonna do the same thing that I did back in 2018 2019? I'm sorry. 2019 It's not something that I want to keep juggling. You know, I'm just, I left nursing. I'm just not gonna go back because I don't know how it's gonna be like in the future.

BS: And being back on campus now, do you feel safe?

RY: Right now I do. I know that there. There are still people. I'm catching COVID and spreading COVID, But I do feel a lot safer now compared to when I was isolated or when COVID first hit us. You know, I do see that like more people 00:53:00are getting vaccinated. And like, I know, getting vaccinated is not going to protect you. 100% But it helps, it can help. So yeah, I do feel safer.

BS: Did you or anyone close to you get COVID?

RY: No one in my household. But I have cousins in Milwaukee. They call COVID. They recovered. But I do know a pastor one of the pastors who is a pastor in my congregation, well, he's not the pastor at my church, but we are under the same 00:54:00church. Just different location. He actually caught COVID, and he passed away. I wanted to attend the funeral, but I didn't because I knew that there were going to be lots of people attending. And I didn't want to catch COVID But besides my cousins on the pasture, no one no one else close to me. COVID

BS: What are your plans in the near future? Like the summer Do you have any internships lined up or work

RY: This coming summer, I'm going to be spending some time well I'm going to I'm going to my mom's and stepdads place and I my job shadow my dad. So that's what I plan to do. And besides that I might just enjoy summer maybe just hang out outside with family.

BS: Can you explain what kind of like a little bit more in depth what your 00:55:00stepdad does are through information systems at all? Or is that kind of what you're

RY: So I don't know exactly what he does, but I know he does a lot of stuff with the computers. I know that's kind of generic, but when I job shadow, I hope to find out more about what exactly he does. Like how programming works. I know he does a bit of coding and stuff but That's all I know.

BS: All right, and knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently, if anything in regards to your response to the pandemic?

RY: Are you asking me if I could go back in time and change something? Okay, um, I wish I did not waste a year and a half. Okay, I wouldn't say it was wasted. 00:56:00Because I was able to learn more about myself. And learn that life does not always go how you plan it to go. So I wouldn't say it was exactly wasted. But I wish I didn't spend that much time, like a year and a half thinking. Because a year and a half is a long time.

BS: Kind of going off that how has living and learning, working in the time of COVID changed you?

RY: I'd say I don't know, it kind of changed my perspective of goals. So I still 00:57:00make goals for myself, and I try to achieve my goals. But I try not to plan so far into the future. I'm planning for now, you know, this year, maybe next year. But before the pandemic hit us, I plan like, I don't know, like five years ahead. 10 years ahead. And I was like, Yeah, so when I graduate, I'm just gonna go work here or there, or, you know, I'm not going to get married till, till I'm 25. And then, by 30, I should have like this amount of kids, but like, now, I'm just planning. I don't know, I just want to live life, I want to live life. But I also want to be successful. So I can't have too much fun. You know, I'm, I'm trying to balance that. And I did not do that at first. So it was after the pandemic that I realized that, you know, we need to live life, life is short, anything can happened.

GL: Before you finish up, I just want to ask a couple of things. You know, for 00:58:00the year and a half, you said that you spent a lot of time thinking about the pandemic, and then, you know, not wanting to go out there and because you were afraid of what you could catch and bring back your grandparents. Right? What happened that caused you to get out of your head, you know, I mean, you've been living in there by yourself, you know.

RY: So after all, it was only for the fall, you know, fall 2020 That's when like, I really did nothing. And I, I would call it like no, just being lazy. Like, I didn't do anything for the whole entire September all the way through, like the summer even into January. Like I didn't do anything. But um, I don't know, it was it was after January or so that that's not when I realized I wanted 00:59:00to go back to school, but that's when I realized I don't want to do this. For the rest of my life. You know, I can't just do this every day, just wake up and eat and sleep and do nothing. And sorry, I forgot your question.

GL: And then also, you came back here, spring of 2022. Right. I mean, this past semester, was a weird, what was it like to actually come back to the class?

RY: So, yes, it was a little weird. I came back and I actually ran to my friends that, um, that I made here. You know, my first year 2018. I ran into one of them. And she's graduating. So that that was weird for me, because we both started together. We had classes together and now she's graduating but I'm just kind of starting to pursue my education and information systems and not just her 01:00:00I have another friend. So I made four friends. My first year here, two out of the forefronts are graduating this semester, the other two, they only have a semester left. I feel behind. I know like we're not like life isn't about who finishes what first, but I do feel behind because we started together. My friends are graduating I still have like two to three years left. And so that was one thing another thing, it was difficult getting back into studying doing homework, because I literally did not think for the past a year and a half. And it was just hard trying to get my brain to study and read and you retain information again taking exams.

BS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

01:01:00

RY: Well, I'm just, I'm just happy to be alive. I'm just happy that I met you guys happy I met new people this semester and you know life. Life is good.

BS: All right. Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. Thank you