Interview with Sara Hagedorn, 02/08/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: This is Grace Lim interviewing Sara Hagedorn on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, for campus COVID stories. Student Brianna Storino is also with us. Campus cover stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, but their experiences and the time of COVID Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

SH: Sara Hagedorn S A R A last name Hagedorn H A G E D O R N.

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

SH: I'm Sara Hagedorn. I am a lab manager and a training coordinator for the Animal Care and Use Committee or animal, sorry, Animal Care and Use Program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I work in the biology department.

GL: Before we dive into your campus cover story, we'd like to get you to know 00:01:00you a little bit better. You know, tell us a little bit about where you grew up.

SH: Well, I was born in Menominee falls and I left there and grew up in Milwaukee Wisconsin, north side. I moved out of Milwaukee at age 15 and moved into the Fond du Lac area. Finished my high school there and had some schooling there at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh or University Wisconsin Fond du Lac Oshkosh Fond du Lac. And yeah, now I live in Oshkosh.

GL: Where did you earn your degree or degrees.

SH: I get my associate's degree again at UW Oshkosh Fond du Lac campus, which was just University of Wisconsin, Fond du Lac at that time. And then in 2010, I got my bachelor's degree here at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in biology, 00:02:00and then I took a kind of a big break to kind of just, you know, take care of life and raise my family. And then I went back to school at the University of Wisconsin Stout, where I got a professional master's degree in conservation biology, and one was up. I graduate in 2016.

GL: And when did you come to UW Oshkosh?


2016. before I finished graduating from there, I was still writing my thesis when I got hired here.

GL: So how did you get this job? And what was that original job?

SH: My original job.

GL: I mean here at UW Oshkosh.

SH: Well, through the degree I was seeking at the University Wisconsin Stout, I had to do an internship in my field. So I was interning as a as a zookeeper and Ohio, Toledo Zoo there. And I remained friends with some of the professors that 00:03:00I had here on campus. And one of my friends had messaged me that they were working looking for a lab manager here. And she knew I was graduating sometime soon. So she recommended me for the position. And I applied and came back here and interviewed and got the job and moved back and started working and was writing my thesis at the same time.

GL: So what describe your original job? What were your roles?

SH: Here at the University, it's pretty much the roles were pretty much the same as they are now. I was hired to be the lab manager, biology, it was to be a halftime job. So .5 FTE is what they call it. I As far as the roles go, really hasn't changed. When I first started here, it felt more than a halftime job. And it's still sometimes does, but sometimes it feels less and sometimes, you know, it feels more Am I missing anything?


GL: So describe to us in detail what I mean what, what do you have to do?

SH: So as a lab manager and the Animal Care and Use program here, my job is to oversee the animal husbandry. So the animals that are kept on campus here for research purposes, as well as those animals that are worked with in the field. So anybody who wants to work with animals has to go through this program and get Animal Care certification. So I oversee that certification so I'm a training coordinator in that aspect. So if somebody was to study conservation, biology or wildlife biology out in the field, whether it's like with whooping cranes or orangutans in a different country, or whether you're working with goldfish on campus, and you know animal physiology, or if you're working with animal Under, 00:05:00like, like a broader envelope or a broader scale, like medical research or something like that. It doesn't matter what it is. If you're working with animals, you do have to start with me you get your certification before you're able to work with animals

GL: Right before COVID, or how many animals and what kind of animals do we have here at UWO.

SH: We don't have a lot of animals. I mean, we have a lot of animals at times, but not a lot of species on campus. Since I have been here, we had when I first started, we had 13-lined ground squirrels, as well as gerbils and hamsters. Right now, we are not working with hamsters such as gerbils and 13-lined ground squirrels, you do see goldfish in your teaching courses sometimes, and sometimes you see frogs, and so they're here for a brief period of time before they are used for your classes. Aside from that, that's all we have on campus at this point in time, but we've worked with mice as well and other animals in the past 00:06:00before my time.

GL: And, you know, let's move to the early days of COVID. Do you recall the first time you heard about this virus?

SH: Sort of seems so long ago? And we've all heard so much since? I do remember hearing about it on the news. I don't and I think it was during the early stages. I don't feel like I was a late comer which I can be at times when I you know, boycotting? And then who's, but I did hear about it on news. And I remember thinking, well, that's kind of scary. I wonder what this means. I didn't think about it too much further than that. Because it became a reality here on campus quite quickly. And instead of thinking about it, you know, I pretty much had to work about it. I had a lot of things that I had to deal with here on campus. And that kept me busy enough.

GL: Do you recall the time? And who was the one who told you that we are 00:07:00actually they all send the students home sending their most everybody home? Do you remember that conversation?

SH: Sort of I can't say for sure there was in a conversation before we got our announcement. So that general email that everybody got was the you know, the University logo on there that said that we were going to start working from home. I remember receiving that. And I remember acting on it quickly, because I knew I would have to develop a plan for my team. In response to that. I know that as soon as that came, I had to send it out to all the people that I work with, start a conversation. So all the leaders, we all had to start a conversation like how are we going to approach this with our students, with the animals that we have on campus, or just in the biology department in general? So we don't know if there was a conversation prior to that. But when we got that 00:08:00announcement, we there was many, many conversations.

GL: So tell us who were you supervising or who was on your team.

SH: So my position here is kind of unique. As you know, we are in biology, there are professors who do research. And the research can like again, it can be out in the field conservation work, it can be on campus, and related to some sort of medical research. And we also do have some professors who worked in collaboration with other universities where maybe there were just holding animals for other universities. So my position is to work alongside those, those professors which we call in the research field PI's, as in principal investigators, or primary investigators. So right now I have three main PI's, but there's many, many PIs on campus. But the ones that work on campuses who I 00:09:00work with most often, so. So we have the PI's as well as we have researchers in biology that are hired, not necessarily through the university, but through other mechanisms, but they work here on site. So we just call them researchers or researcher assistants. And then we have the students, our students are here to do a lot of the day-to-day work. So they we call them our caretakers. So animal caretakers, so and then some of those students are researchers themselves. Or they assist with the research with the primary investigators.

GL: Were you holding any animals from other Universities at the time was us on shutdown?

SH: That's a really good question. I can't answer it with 100% certainty but yes, but no is what I want to say. So that is a main thing that we do is we, we, 00:10:00we breed animals and ship them to other institutions, some big institutions, we're nationwide here. And so if we didn't have any animals at that exact moment, there were going to be, you know, produced. So during that lot, lot larger time period, I, we did have some animals that ultimately in the end belong to somebody else after purchasing and, and whatnot.

GL: So when you talk about the animal care, how often do you need somebody to come in there and take care of the animals? And what did that look like? What does that look like?

SH: In general? Yeah. So our animals, we have a really good program here. And we have to follow many guidelines put out by the federal government, USDA, WA, so 00:11:00Animal Welfare Act and all that we have a lot of different agencies that we have to be in compliant with. So with that being set aside with those guidelines in place, we do have to check on our animals, once every 24 hours. So what we do is we develop a schedule, such that our caretakers, if not caretakers, the PI's themselves, or me or any, anybody else that is trained, well trained to work with animals has to come in. Usually, it's during the period of time of 8am, and 3pm. So we do that, because when we check on our animals, we want to make sure they're healthy, and safe. And if we, if we see anything, that raises a concern, then we have enough time to come in and handle the situation.

GL: So when the when everybody was sent home, the students were sent home, they had a very short time to gather all their stuff and go home instructional style, 00:12:00also sent home, those who are not deemed essential sent home. Were you among those who were sent home? Or were you a member of the essential staff?

SH: Yes, almost automatically, we were labeled as essential, you have to understand that a lot of things were happening at one time and the questions that were instantaneously produced by my team, or me as the overseer of the group. The answers weren't always there. So they were actually coming as the questions were coming. So each and every question that we had during that time period, had, you know, a whole string of answers. So what I do know is, we were informed that only in essential workers could stay on campus. So I got that email just the same as everybody else did. And I started working with my leaders who I work under the dean to the College of Letters and Science at that time was 00:13:00the assistant dean, Dr. Colleen McDermott. So she was one of our leaders in our group there. So I would have reached out with to her and other research leaders, and I would have begun talking about how it is essential for us to stay on campus. And how do I get as designated essential, or Tier 1 is what I think they were calling them at that time. And she had replied that I was automatically put on the list that came from I believe it was the provost or somebody up there, they already had developed a list right on the onset of essential workers. Of course, that had to be modified, I'm sure many times. So I was put on that list and a few other members of our team, but not all the members. That would have been more of the research leaders or staff, or PIs. But what wasn't occurring at 00:14:00that time was the fact the students they weren't labeled essential. But so we had to have a conversation like do we label our student workers essential? Or do we just stay on campus ourselves? And of course, we were thinking about our own safety as well as the students safety. So do we still have our 25 individuals come in here to care for our animals? Because, you know, at a time like this, you know, at a time like this, we would actually need more help, right? Because things were changing. And some of us have families at home, you know, and things like that. But at the same time having students on campus as we all know, that's why the change happened, would exposes to this unknown virus at that time. So we had we began to have that conversation and issues were brought up like I am now 00:15:00teaching my classes from home, you know, I have children at home when I'm doing that. And if I don't have students coming in care for the animal, and I have to come in every single day that is just that's gonna kill me or, you know, just be too much. So that was some of the feedback we got from the PIs. And I think ultimately, it was determined that this our research here, or just the keeping the animals safe and secure, what happened as well without our students. So I produced a list of all the students that were currently working at that time in the facility and sent that whole list over to the, to the College and Letters and Science. And that ultimately went to Trent Martin, I think he kind of is still leading the show or was leading the show at that time. He's from the University Police. So we had to send that list over everybody automatically was 00:16:00approved as essential workers. And that list in itself did change a little bit, too, because we actually, were still hiring people to help out, because we had to make sure we always had a backup plan.

GL: So I just want to get straight that students were on that list or not.

SH: Not at first, as it was produced from upper administration, after conversations that probably even happened right away on day one or day two, with my team, and those who are involved. Some members of the EOC, which is a emergency. I forget what operations Yeah, emergency operation committee. So yes, after a few conversations, then we just submitted a list of all of our students, and they automatically got put on that list.


GL: All right, I just want to go back to the care of the animals. How many people does it take to take care of how many animals at that time?

SH: Daily, Weekly, any say a daily, okay, so daily is so the way we have it structured, based on you know, our, again, our, our animal numbers have changed, they do change they did at that time, we have hibernating animals. So at the onset in March, a lot of animals were hibernating. So the amount of animals that we had a week was less, so we do have to check on hibernating animals. But it's a quick check, you know, because they're sleeping, we just have to make sure they're still sleeping and, and so because we have three labs, three PI's that work in the facility at that time, and currently right now, that means we have 00:18:00three sets of animals, right, so these animals belong to this research group, or this pie, not necessarily just research, but this pie this pie in this pie. So we need one student a day to come in and check, take care of the animals, make sure that animal is not injured. Make sure the animal is well fed watered, do some cleaning, and making sure the temperatures of the room the humidity and other things like that are all within range for the safety of our animals. So at the minimum, we have three students coming in every day. However, as you know, with your pets and everything, there's so much more than just coming in feeding them water. So there are other chores that have to be done weekly and monthly. And if there is any research that was to continue during that time, that would have had to been done. So I would say at the minimum three people a day.

GL: Ahh. you going to have to tell me who which animals were hibernating?


SH: The 13-lined ground squirrels?

GL: For some reason I don't know that. I didn't know that.

SH: You know, a lot of people know this about the squirrels. So these 13-lined ground squirrels are not your gray squirrels. So these are little hibernating rodents there. They look if anything, if I can help us paint a picture, they look kind of like a chipmunk but a little bit bigger.

GL: Okay, and then I know that you said the numbers change. But can you just give us an idea how many animals we had when the shutdown occurred? Just around you can run it up or whatever?

SH: Well, I can tell you that. At the end of every year, we have to report out our animal numbers. And I cannot exactly remember exactly what it was in 2020. But for 2021 and December, we reported out numbers and we had as many as Like 1100 squirrels, and about a couple 100 gerbils. So those numbers fluctuate, 00:20:00because, you know, again, some of the animals belong to other institutions at some point. It depends if it's breeding season or not. By its I'd think the year before that was slightly less, I think, yes, last year was a higher year for us. So it may be somewhere around like the 700 range for the squirrels.

GL: Okay, so let's, let's talk about the, you know, the early days where we did not know, we didn't have the vaccine, we don't have we don't know much about the virus. And you have your own family, your, you know, you have own life outside of work. I mean, how are you dealing with, with that part, along with the work that you have to do and also being a, you know, an essential worker?

SH: It's a really good question. Gosh, I actually reviewed some emails from that 00:21:00time period, because if I didn't review those emails here, I might have been a little too modest in this, but reviewing those emails, uh, you know, I think there was like, one or two emails where I just had oops, you know, just totally responded wrong. And I was like, whoops, I'm sorry, I guess I'd be more asleep. So and when looking at those emails? Gosh, the communication did not stop it was every single piece of your job. It was another question; how do you do this? How do you do that? And that's fine. You know, it's part of my job as it is, you know, because I am that the kind of a middle person for many different areas. So in the same in one, one, on one hand, it was the same, but the communication was quite intense. So I never felt like I was fully taking a break from work when I went home. Because it was just like, you're always so busy. And then you're, 00:22:00you're at home, and you're like, what am I going to do tomorrow? What's going to happen tomorrow, you know, because instead of dealing with what was already a busy job, you know, you had all this thrown on there. And nobody really knew what was going on with COVID. You know, and how to respond to it. So it was kind of like solving mysteries at all times. And making sure you're dotting your I's and crossing your T's. And, and not sure you're still doing it, right. So at times, it was very exhausting. And I can tell you that, you know, I don't know if this is the wrong tangent here. But we had a lot of people retired too. And I think you probably noticed that and it's still happening since COVID. So you couldn't just deal with COVID You had to deal with that person's job, so you could get your job done, because that person's jobs gone. Right? So this unique 00:23:00position working with animals on campus, there's so much to consider, like food, right? We have to feed our animals. But when we started stop, you know, we stopped shipping things, you know, you know, the nation, the world, you know, there was, and there still are shipping issues, but also receiving it here, right? Who was the stay at postal services to receive those things. So instead of just having things nicely delivered in a timely manner, I had to over purchase to make sure we never ran out. And then I might have had to go pick up those products myself as opposed to having this well-developed system. So during that time, we had our biology stocker manager retired. Right. So Him and I are partners in all animal ordering animal product ordering and ordering of anything that we would need, like mask, right? For students. We needed a lot of masks but 00:24:00at this time, we lost our stocker manager. We got a new one soon thereafter, unfortunately, he came from chemistry similar Department or position. But he doesn't know everything we need and how quickly we need it and how important it is. And when somebody is overworking stress and you're like I need this tomorrow. You know, you can't always count on it. And you can't count on them understanding so just getting products that we need, it was more difficult, but you needed it. It had to happen. So what did you do? You did more work. We also we have a campus veterinarian, we're required to have a veterinarian because we take very good care of our animals here. That is my position to make sure that happens. And our veterinarian retired during this period of time as well. So we were hiring a new veterinarian right so who knows the most about the animals? 00:25:00Me, right? So who's going to be involved in that? So we were doing the hiring of that. And then when you get a new veterinarian, how is that person going to get all that information? How do they know what their job is on here? So I was also involved in training this new veterinarian, so and, yeah, and then we, you know, just, you know, sometimes we have to work with it, just as all you guys probably have to, you know, and we lost my main person in it. You know, Evelyn, I don't know if anybody knows Evelyn, but I couldn't call Evelyn and be like, I'm having this computer issue. I'm busy, you know, she was gone. So then I just got help desk. And you know, and so it was just so many custodial services, we had retirements there, or just people moving on. And I also worked with facilities because just as I'm in charge of working with animals, I was in, you know, in charge of keeping things up and running, you know, functional in the facility. So we have some machines that will break and need to be fixed. And so then I 00:26:00have to work alongside facilities management, I have my buddies over there that I could call and say, hey, let's fix this. All sudden, I didn't have my buddies over there. And also then the facilities, you know, in the whole department and custodial services, were in charge of cleaning dormitories, and spraying the hallways, and so you didn't have those resources anymore. If you did, you know, you were you're asking for favors. It felt like you know, so, at home, yes, I'm a mother, I have a teenager and she was going attended a stem Institute. So this is a school in Fond du Lac. It's kind of like self-directed learning, obviously, focusing on the STEM field. And so it's a lot of hands on. And that's why we picked that school. Well, that hands on went online. And my very, very bright daughter, all A's, started struggling. I didn't know this because I would check 00:27:00in with her and she went, she was an honest, she doesn't lie. But she wouldn't tell me that she wasn't doing good. At all Sunday, I got a report card actually wasn't even a report card. It was a note from our principal who I was close with, you know, because I'm one of those moms. Right? And did you know that Ava has like a lot of CS? No, and she's not logging into her class. And, you know, and then you approach her and she's like, Mom, I'm logging in the I don't know what to do. I'm there. And I'm not there. And I am not getting the responses from you know, like, my teachers, I, you know, I had a question about something. And I emailed my teacher right away, and it took them actually, he didn't even get back to me yet. So. So it was it was a lot. My daughter was completely burned out, because as soon as we heard about COVID, so right away in March, she was pulled out of school, completed that year at home, and then did the whole 00:28:00next year at home. So and she hated it. She hated it so much. And we live out. We live on an island, and out on highway 45. There so the only internet we have is satellite so. So anyway, so our internet wasn't good, and dealing those changes and whatnot. But because she didn't allow me to know, I felt like mostly I was just taking care of work. And maybe I don't know if maybe she just thought it was too busy. And then she kind of approach me, but so I guess you're asked about my life a little bit. She's now at Oshkosh West and she is so excited to be in person. And I don't think I will ever pull her out of school again. And I know and I know, we're dealing with COVID. And I feel strongly about it. But that really ruined her graze her morale her she you know, it's just her livelihood. And I don't know if I could look her in the eye more and say you're 00:29:00learning from home again? I don't know.

GL: So you don't you are halftime? Correct?

SH: Correct.

GL: And yet you were given extra tasks during this time.

SH: I don't know if anybody would see it as given. But those who work closely with me knew very well what was happening. But I don't know that anybody really had the time to realize that everybody was having more work, right? Because we were all just doing more work. I mean, this story is not just my story. I mean, I don't know a single person in my department or anything that didn't feel very overwhelmed with more work. You know, I'm not the only one who works with facilities. You know, I'm not the only one you know, who worked in you know, with these other individuals and saw the loss and I can tell you I was very fortunate to have a really good team. And then includes a PIs and the students. 00:30:00So at times, it felt like we were just normal because we still had to be here. We were essential. So our job tasks, mainly for the students stay the same, you know, things were made difficult. But as far as what it looked like, inside our jobs in our in our facilities and whatnot, it felt very similar or normal at times.

GL: Did the animals feel the difference?

SH: No. I don't think so. Have I don't like to speak for animals, though. Because, you know, but yeah, so it was a very, it was the same routine for the animals.

GL: Was there a time where you felt like to say, you know, what, this is too much. I'm just gonna walk away.

SH: No. No, I mean, you can't I mean, I work with students, and I work with 00:31:00animals, you can't just walk away when things get rough.

GL: So you talked about some of the challenges of the work that you do during the time COVID? Were there others that other challenges that you can think of?

SH: Yeah. Yeah. So like I said, the main challenge was, you know, the loss of people due to retirements and stuff like that, we always weren't sure, when the next student was going to be kicked off campus, or when the next student was going to go on, you know, on vacation somewhere, we still had students who planned and did do a full on spring break to Florida, or wherever it was. So when you're dealing with them, any I mean, this is just a, you know, 2500 individuals, it's like you guys, but you know, if you're going on vacation over there, you know, and this person wanted to donate blood, we had some individuals 00:32:00who would ask us if it was okay, or if we felt comfortable if they would donate blood, because right, you know, for a period of time, there, they were looking for blood donations, because we didn't know, you know, the state of things. And because, you know, so many people were losing lives, nationwide or worldwide. But so it. So you know, we can't tell that individual, no, you can donate blood, we can tell that individual that's very kind of you and generous of you, you can do that. But we didn't know at all, you know, like we developed a plan. So we had a plan that was based on the university plan when they had a plan, you know, but we didn't know if that student you know, was going to feel safe enough to come back, or if this person is going to feel safe enough to work with that person. So we did create a communication database. So it was it's one way that 00:33:00all the team members can talk together, because we don't always see each other, especially when we're working in different labs. So we had this communication channel where students or anybody was able to openly talk about things like I have this concern, I have a fever. I was in contact with this person, but we couldn't require it. So I guess I'm already forgetting your original question here. Oh, any other difficulties. So that was just a difficulty that we always lived with not knowing if how many people we would lose at one time, right. And with my position to that, that was a whole different thing. If we would, like if I would have been sick, things would have been quite different. And that question was raised to like, what happens if we, you know, lose Sarah, so there was this all sudden, this need of cross training, which I like to do to begin with, but it's not always feasible or need it? So, so there, so there was, you 00:34:00know, this changing of trying to cross train when you're just trying to survive? Some members of the biology department, you know, had to go home and they had specific jobs, such as, you know, provide making media for labs and things like that, and well, we're not having labs, they didn't have on campus job, you know, so unless they were teaching, they really didn't have a job at that time. So we took a few of those members into our team and train them and they helped us survive too. So it was great that we had those resources but weren't, we weren't always sure. But it did. You know, it was a whole lot of training on top of you know, what we're already doing.

GL: I know that you trained your students to take care of the animals did you yourself. I mean, were you one of the carers animal carers too, or A backup or something?


SH: Oh, absolutely. So I, I actually, when I was a student here a long time ago, I played that role. And that's part of the reason why I came back is because, you know, I can tell you, when I was a biology student, I was just a biology students and, and in take until, you know, my last year my degree when somebody came here and you probably, you know, no this particular professor, but she was new. And she was like, I'm going to start a research lab. And you know, I need some students in here. I'm like, my last year and I, I know, I'm getting a degree in biology, but I don't know what I'm doing. So fortunately, she grabbed a hold of me at that time, so and then I worked in her lab for a year doing exactly the same thing as the students are doing now. So with that being said, when I moved on to graduate school, I built my own research lab, and I took care of my own animals and having to do all these things being compliant animal husbandry, and now I am of course trained and doing it. And I do serve it as a 00:36:00backup for whenever it's needed. It's not needed a lot, because we, you know, our students do get paid, some of them volunteer, but some get paid. So not everybody wants to hand over their hours to the lab manager, right. But I'm very well trained and could have and did participate in helping out at that time.

GL: We talked about the challenges, what, what are some of the things that you were most proud of, of what you've done in your team?

SH: We work together, and we worked very well together. We were the only people on campus. Well, I mean, I guess I, we've learned later that there was other people on campus, but we felt like we were the only ones on campus. And we had many students, and actually, many members of the team just step up and take additional responsibilities. Everybody was very open about their, their communication, on the onset, things have changed. But overall, everybody works 00:37:00very well together, worked very well together, communicated very well took on these added responsibilities. And somehow, you know, you know, kept a smile on their face. You know, I know that this time was hard for a lot of people, and it was hard to keep even a smile on her face. But our team, we did it. So a lot of universities or institutions that do do research did have to shut down. And we heard about it, you know, and how they, you know, shut it down, took a break, because students went home, we would always hear about it, but here we were holding it together. So and, and that's great, because they did give us the students a sense of responsibility during this, you know, a kind of scary time period, you know, and, and in a sense, you become this little family. And, you 00:38:00know, so you did have your peers and this group to, you know, to, to rely on and to get through this together, I guess.

GL: You said that you felt like you were the only ones. I mean, it felt like that right? On campus at that time. The early days. Describe that. What was that like to come on campus? And it was in Halsey, correct?

SH: Halsey and Clow.

GL: Okay. So yeah, describe that scene.

SH: Yeah, that scene was ever developing. I don't know if those are the right words to use, but like, always changing is what I mean, I guess. And so at first, you know, students were required to go home we did lose some students like they had, they were forced to move home right. And it'll be a few days before they figure out their home situation before they could come back to work. We had students that were commuting but what it felt like on campus it did it 00:39:00felt very empty, and you could see and feel the changes. So for instance, just getting through the communications about label on them in sensual and making sure they can get through the doors. So we do have cardio access to the doors, but what else was changing is we had access to certain indoors you know, that got in but then the university or the EOC decided that we should only use certain doors. So then we had to make sure that we weren't going to accidentally get locked out of campus you know, so and that we can access our animals and our facilities you know, quickly and safely you know, and so, so there was that the changes of the door situation. We had the Okay, we had as the police officers 00:40:00were scanning the hallways, so when students were forced to go home custodial services, were spraying the rooms, and I forget what was the product that they were using, but they were doing a special kind of spraying of the rooms. So that's why you guys went home. So they could, you know, take care of the rooms. So that changed things in such that we had to mark all of our areas, because we could not have this happen in our areas, right, because we're working with animals and students and, and so we had to go around and mark all our areas. But this also included support areas. So there was many areas that we had to mark. With the sprain, there was a lot of new communication with that team to make sure it was done properly. And even somehow there was communication errors there. I remember running from one facility to the next because the Dean was like they're there. You know, I get to like, go get them stuff. And I did, I ran 00:41:00over there. I'm like, Listen, I've talked to everybody in your department, you're not supposed to be spraying here. And there. They were just Oh, we didn't know they weren't given the correct communication. So you see that everywhere on campus. But so that was in the onset. Um, not a lot of people are here I would every day I was in here I would say it was like Mike or Kurt, who was scanning Hi, hallways, you know, hi, how's it going, I had to provide them with a list of all my essential workers. And, but things slowly started getting dirtier in the hallways and the custodial services were so busy with these projects that we watched the dirty footsteps. And I don't know if any of you guys know Halsey, but Halsey is a very old building. And we have problems with bogs down there. So if cleaning is not happening, you know, those bugs will come out. And we watch that. And that was another unexpected problem that we were dealing with. I 00:42:00literally mopped some of the hallways outside of the facilities just because I'm like, this is embarrassing, it's dirty here. And that bug just ran across and actually entered our areas where we do more security within our facilities to make sure these vermin don't come in, because that's not good for our students or animals. So I found myself cleaning surrounding areas to make sure that what happened the dumpsters were overflowing all the time. So my new job, or one of my new duties was reaching out to custodial services to tell them that the dumpsters were full. That actually became a thing. Like, unless we didn't like we have to report it. And we had to report it by a certain time that they were full. And that didn't make sense. Like I didn't you know, who says that was our job, but it became our job.

GL: There. Okay. All right. So um, I think we were talking about things that you 00:43:00were out the trash and everything. But was he talked about working together with your team? Any anything other specific things that you were proud of about the work that you did during the time of COVID? In your department? Your team?

SH: Yeah, of course, I don't even know how to talk about the specifics other than it just working together, then team take on new task. As I mentioned, to you, I don't know if I did in this interview, but at one point I was, you know, furloughed, and we did have one member of our team, a PI who volunteered to pay for me to work. Of course, it never went all the way through the university. I did have to take my furlough days, but that individual realize how important it was for us to be there and offered to pay my wages to be on campus. It didn't 00:44:00work. But that was a proud moment to you know, when each and every one of us, you know, realize how hard we were working during that period of time, because you don't always see that. You don't always see that one word followed on for how long were you voted for? You know, that's a good question. To be honest, I knew it was only going to halfway be able to answer that habit, because I remember there was two different sets up furloughing and I remember the second one and I forget what happened to me for the first step if I was exempt, or if I did, but I know when they redeveloped the plan, they did it based on your wages and how much you make. And during that period of time, you got either six days, eight days, 10 days or whatever it was, and I wasn't I got eight days which I believe remember, if I remember correctly, it was like the second to lowest or second from the highest bar But it somehow it was based on what my, you know, 00:45:00like my overall wage if it was a full time, I remember that it wasn't very fair, I didn't think meaning fair in the sense that, you know, I was already half time as a manager holding a team together, you know. And then because of the way that they looked at people's overall income to give them certain days, I felt like I shouldn't have qualified for furlough considering the position. And I mean, I guess if you look at it, because I'm halftime, it was a total of eight half days. So it was looked at like that, but that's eight days, right? Because when you're already doing so much in this halftime position, you know, and you're taken out in the list, it was just a really inconvenience.

GL: Did I mean, did you even take any time off? Because I mean, you still had to get the job done.

SH: I don't remember sitting at home and enjoying a furlough day.


GL: Okay, so we're gonna move to fall of 2022, spring of 2021. I mean, pretty much remained the same for you. You're the workload.

SH: I remember things around me changing a top of my head here. I didn't. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about this question. But I remember, you know, the structure like students were coming back. So there were changes in that because students were coming back, we had to start talking about mask mandating, mandating, sorry, excuse me. And in, you know, social distancing, and things like that, and which labs can be open, what not, so all these things were happening around and with me, so you know, I serve on a few committees, so those 00:47:00conversations were there. And those were different. And I always had to make sure I knew everything that was happening in these different areas. So like, there's a committee called LS S, S T. So lab shop studio safety team, which is a committee I serve on, as well as the IACUC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. So in these committees, we had to look at how do we work in our research labs, you know, how are we save face shields or mask or, you know, how many students in the class so we were having new committee meetings, you know, and new topics, so I saw more of that, when the students came back. I, I think we all kind of had concerns about what are we going to get sick? Now? I know that I know, that was a question of everybody almost on my team. It was definitely a question of me, you know, like, because at that time, I did not send my daughter to school, you know, so, but now we have students coming back 00:48:00all the students gonna follow the rules and, and whatnot, what's that going to be like? So those are the main changes, making sure that I communicate well, with my team, about the changes, you know, and, and then doing the change in and having these different conversations.

GL: When the vaccine itself, let's move to fall of 2021. And the vaccines are already readily available on campus. You know, what were your initial thoughts about the vaccine?

SH: Well, I knew I was getting one. And, but I knew that because we are university, and that's the beautiful thing about university, everybody's gonna have their different opinions on that. It was because this was so new to me, I kind of had an understanding, like, you can't really force anybody to do 00:49:00anything throughout the process here. But that question was still somehow sort of there like, how do you tell your team like, hey, let's please get vaccinated. I think that's the only approach you can really do is like, you know, just say, like, this is this would occur if everybody's vaccinated, kind of talking about the benefits of, you know, if we're all vaccinated, but without trying to have your own opinion about the topic in there. So that was, that was a change, because you do you have to think about how the way you talk to individuals, so that's a lot of mental stress. So there was that, you know, it was like, oh, I don't want to say the wrong thing. I don't want anybody feel like they have to tell me they had COVID You know, but I want them to feel free and be honest for the safety of the whole team if they wanted to. So we all had our own opinions about the vaccine, and I am one of the ones that knew I was getting it, but I respect everybody's opinion.

GL: What has to happen for you to feel like we're getting back to normal.


SH: Good question. I think that's the question of everybody. I think our I actually asked some teammates, some questions this morning, you know, I sit down remember this, but there's pieces I don't remember from that time period, because it seems so long ago now. And one of the so this would be a researcher, she says, you know, what, there was a lot of changes, but it's hard to remember them because it all feels normal now. And but it's not that it feels normal, like pre COVID. Normal, that it just feels like the COVID normal and, and so in that sense, I feel like we're operating the same in the, you know, within our jobs here, my this job of, you know, the animal care and use program. But, you know, deep down, things have changed, and things can be better or different. I 00:51:00don't know, you know, I know, there's a lot of positions unfilled, we talked a little bit about cost, custodial services, you know, and the, you know, the things that they face, you know, and I know that we're still looking for people walk in interviews, and, and I know, we still have some dirty hallways. And so what is going on? I don't know, because it's happening everywhere, it seems like it's harder to hire people, retain people, that's a conversation. And in many of our meetings, you know, I work on another department in another department on campus, and it's student retainment. How can we retain our students? How can we keep them here learning? How can we retain faculty or mentors for students? I, I don't have the solution. But, I'm always working on it at the same time. That makes sense.

GL: Absolutely. So um, you know, let's, let's look ahead, you know, 2030 years, 00:52:00and, you know, and your grandkids are asking you, hey, Grandma, what did you do during the time of COVID? What would you tell them?

SH: I survived. I worked harder, and we made it through. And we learned how to deal with a lot less that way. You know, we're used to it, and you, you'll learn how to be a team player, and how you can experience so many different changes and mistakes at once.

GL: You know, so, you know, I think you've touched on some of this already, but what have you learned about yourself during this whole time?

SH: Sometimes I feel like I'm not learning enough about myself right now. Does that make sense? I feel like that. I know. I've always just worked way too hard. 00:53:00And, but I do, I feel like I learned that I really appreciate this position in the biology too. And part of that is seeing how people come together as a team. And I, I mostly think about the students when I you know, when I say this coming together as a team, because ultimately, I'm here for the students. We all are, right. So I learned about the importance of surviving with that larger team, the students, the whole research team, the whole animal care use program, the biology department, the university, the world, you know, say, you know, I don't know if I've learned much more about myself in that, but I think I'll figure it 00:54:00out someday when we can breathe, right?

GL: I just thought of this question. I mean, you were a biology major. Correct?

SH: Correct.

GL: Did you ever think that this is a- during this time? I mean, do you ever like marvel over Oh, my God, I'm in awe. I'm living through a global pandemic. I mean, at the science of it. I mean, do you ever think about that aspect?

SH: Yeah. And I don't know how to explain it really. Because it was just really, it was oh, it was recently and now I'm remembering it was just today. It was it was it? It was going through these emails, and seeing the emails about they're looking for people to donate blood, you know, and can I do that? You know, would you guys feel safe for me to come in? And there was a whole conversation about you know, the need to donate blood. The shutting down of the school locking the 00:55:00doors and having students come into the computer lab to print or whatever they were doing was a bad thing. You know, like, we had to lock the doors because students were coming into a university when they weren't supposed to. That kind of seems a little backwards. So, so yeah, with reading the emails from that, that beginning piece, right back in March 2020. Yeah, that that makes it seem really real. But other than that, it kind of forget about it.

GL: You know, we've touched on a lot of things already. Um, was there something else that that that you would like to add?

SH: No, but I think you talked about a little bit about changes, and something just popped in my head, because, you know, is something you know, you asked about, I don't know how it came to have my head, but I lost my father in January 00:56:00of 2020. And, you know, he was, you know, this was before COVID. Right? So, but just a couple months, and he was dying, he had a fungal infection. And we know he was dying, we put them in a home and, but he was slowly dying, and all sudden, you know, he had just got sick. And we later learned that COVID came before that, you know, so that just popped in my head randomly right now. But I'm also remembering Mia it by an another department I work in, she lost her mom, to her father to COVID. And as we are looking for instructors and mentors, for our current students in that department, we are finding so many people throughout campus that are just like, I can't take on more. Or I'm taking a break, I'm going on sabbatical, sabbatical. I'm retiring. You know, so these ideas, and, you know, moves are almost commonplace. And I think everybody might 00:57:00be aware of, you know, if not now soon, but mental health is like, the number one word I'm hearing every day now is my mental health, my mental health and you know, and, you know, and I, so, I think that's going to be a huge change that will stick with us is realizing that people do suffer from mental health situations when forced with all these changes in life, you know, and burnout. I've heard that more than I ever had. And I'm seeing it. I'm seeing real life cases of it. And it really makes you wonder how much was it here before and we didn't talk about it? Or how much more is coming and now we're talking about it? You know, so I can tell you, I find that it's, I hate to say the word interesting, but I hope somebody does some research on that.


GL: I'm sure I'm sure they won't. Do you ever go to your lab that to the area where the animals are just sort of like, I don't know, cane play with them? Or? Or just I don't know, I mean, I don't even know how that setup looks like, but can you go in there and just sort of be with animals.

SH: It's, it's not you can go in there and be with animals but you're pretty much doing your job with animals around it's a different set of you know, you have the appreciation and care and everything for the animals but a lot of times like research or you know, in time things go just different things don't just really make them the playable animals, if that makes sense. But I can tell you that my position with animals you know, is because I'm an animal lover, and I could tell I get 5000 animals at home, but that I just like, oh, I need a break ever to go pet my cat or, you know, go watch my ducks fly or something like that.


GL: Okay, anything else?

SH: I think I'm good.

GL: Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus cover stories at UW Oshkosh. Thank you