Interview with Sarah Bradway, 03/04/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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AM: This is Alexa Meier interviewing Sara Bradway on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, for Campus COVID stories. Student Sarah Nirere is also with us. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

SB: Yes, my name is Sarah Bradway. And it's spelled S-A-R-A-H Bradway is B-R-A-D-W-A-Y.

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

SB: My name is Sarah Bradway, and I am an instructional designer here on campus.

AM: Before we dive into your campus COVID story, we'd like to get to know you a little better. Tell me about where you grew up.

SB: Yes, I grew up in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, which is right on Lake Michigan. 00:01:00It's about an hour and 15-ish minutes west or east of here. So it's right on the lake. And that's where I grew up.

AM: Awesome. And then where did you earn your degrees?

SB: I got them here at Oshkosh. So I got my undergrad here. And then I was working on campus. And so I came back, and I did all my graduate work here. And I graduated with my masters.

AM: Wow, that's really cool. And how, how did you come to work at UW Oshkosh,

SB: Um, kind of a long story. So I was a student here. And I started working in an office on campus as a campus job, as many students do. And when I graduated, I graduated with my education degree. And when I graduated, they were laying teachers off all over the state. And so it was really hard to find a job and I 00:02:00also needed to get my wisdom teeth pulled, and I had no insurance. So my boss at the time had an opening. And she said, why don't you come work for me for a little while. And I said, Okay, I will do that as long as you know, I am leaving as soon as I find a teaching job. And it has now been nearly 20 years, and I am still here. So that's how I started, and I've moved around a little bit and now I'm doing instructional design, and I really love it. So.

AM: Wow, that’s really cool. Tell me about your position at UWO pre-COVID.

SB: Yeah, so my position is kind of a jack of all trades. I do a lot of – I work with instructors to help be help them be better teachers is some cases or many cases. So I do a lot of professional development workshops on all kinds of things like incorporating active learning styles and writing effective learning outcomes and I used to be in charge of Desire To Learn which was the [unclear] kind of like Canvas that we have now. And so now I work with the instructors and I do a lot of professional development and a lot of one-on-one. Sometimes it changes all the time but one of my main job duties is I do help instructors move from face-to-face teaching to online teaching. So that is a big part of my position as well.


AM: Awesome and now let’s move on to the early days of COVID. When was the first time you remember hearing about COVID-19?

SB: Yeah, and when I first heard about it, I don’t even think it had a name yet. So I remember getting ready for work one day and like watching the news in the morning. The news comes out at 7 and I leave the house at 7:20. So I get like 20 minutes of the national news. And I saw this story about how China was building hospitals like there was – like in three days. And they were building multiple hospitals because there was this crazy virus that was going around. And I thought “well that can’t be good.” That can’t be a good sign. Like, this doesn’t look good. And so that’s when I kind of remember hearing about it initially. And then, you know, you’d hear about it and then you wouldn’t hear about it for a couple days and then it would come back and it started getting a little more serious.


AM: Oh yeah, for sure. What was your initial reaction to the news

SB: Um, I, if you knew me, I'm kind of a control freak, so I saw it and I was like, well that's not good. And so I started in my head kind of mentally preparing. I started thinking about it sounds so bizarre like looking back now, 00:05:00but I was like, alright, well, if you know, this is gonna go down, I need to be prepared, I need to protect my family. So I started, like hoarding food, but not not crazy, either. You know, I'd be like, Okay, well, the next time we go to Costco, I'm just gonna get like an extra thing, a pancake mix, like Just Add Water pancake mix, and maybe I'll just get like an extra thing, or pasta or whatever. Just to kind of be prepared, because as the news started coming down, and it was getting worse and hitting different countries, and like, well, it's only a matter of time before it gets here. And who knows what's going to happen? And worst-case scenario, we have lots of extra pancakes.

AM: Oh my gosh, can’t go wrong with pancakes.

SB: That’s right. Or pasta.

AM: Yeah, exactly. How would you describe your feelings about the disease itself.


SB: Uh, I don’t think in those early days I was too concerned. You know, I was concerned but it was more so how this would affect our day to day lives. Like I said, I needed to protect my family. So I needed food in order to we don’t we live out in the country so like getting to town wasn’t gonna I don’t know what I was thinking I just needed to prepare. So I remember having this feeling of like holding my family behind me and being like I’m going to protect them and that is that’s kind of was my thought process at the time. I wasn’t concerned about the disease itself it was more the effect or effects it would have on food supplies and you know. I remember being on the phone with my mom and sister and being like this doesn’t sound good. Like I’m a little concerned about the number of ventilators. Like think about Oshkosh. Like little po-dunk Oshkosh we don’t have the resources. If this they were saying 10% of the population has to be hospitalized and I was like that’s a lot. Like for Oshkosh, we have students like that’s a lot of people and I don’t think the resources can handle it like what is going to happen here? So it was more of that kind of thing. I wasn’t concerned about our personal safety it was more of the repercussions of what might happen in our daily lives.


AM: Okay. Are you a member of the EOC?

SB: I was not.

AM: Alright, so now let's talk about your situation when the university caused the campus- closed the campus in mid-March, what were you feeling as everything UWO and elsewhere in mid-March started shutting down all of a sudden.


SB: Um, well for me, I don't think it was all of a sudden, because like, I think I started seeing those news stories about China in like, January end of January, maybe. So I'd already been thinking, this can't be good. So, but I also I had a little bit of a one, we kept getting these emails, right, and the emails we're getting, like, if you're going to go on spring break, like you should not be traveling outside of the US, you get these, these emails, and I also got a little bit of a heads up because of the position I was in. And the provost contacted me and another individual and said, hey, we need you to stop everything you are working on and start getting resources together in case everything you know, in case we have to shut down in case things go wrong, in 00:09:00case whatever it is, we need to be prepared. So I immediately dropped all the projects I was working on and started working on resources and you know, like a crash course in teaching online. I worked with the Canvas administrator to kind of figure out what resources we need to have. What programming we would need to offer just just- if you know anything about teaching online like this, this was a huge undertaking. It was a little scary just in those regards, because I can't work with that, like that's a lot of instructors to move online. And how do we do that in the best way possible? So. So we kind of have had a little bit of a 00:10:00heads up that it might be coming. And we started preparing resources earlier, maybe than the average person.

AM: Awesome.

SB: Yeah.

AM: Describe what happened in your department.

SB: Yeah, so I kind of talked a little bit about that. I had my department at the time. There were two instructional designers on campus. And the other designer had left the university in October of that year. So by March, I was the only designer because we hadn't, we hadn't hired that position yet. So I was the only person. And so, at that time, it was me. And like I said, the Canvas administrator and a couple other people were kind of consulting on how to put these resources together and what we would need, but it was really, like I said, what, what do we need? And what are those initial steps? Like how, what are the 00:11:00absolute essentials? We knew that when you teach online, it is it- we usually recommend like six months to plan to take a previously face to face course and convert it to online. And we did not have six months. So a lot of that discussion was how do we- how do we do this? And what are the- what are the essentials? Like, what do we absolutely need people to understand? Some of that was, you know, like, luckily, we had online platforms like, you know, video conferencing and that kind of thing. So how do we teach people to use this? Because not all of our instructors are super tech savvy. So it's how do we- what do we need to teach them? How do we teach them? How, what? What are the essentials? Plus, this was a new type of teaching online. Generally, when 00:12:00online- there, I always say, you know, not everyone is an online student. And not everyone is an online instructor. And so this was different. People were not choosing to take online. And online requires a different set of skills than a face-to-face classroom does. And so how do we, how do we manage all of this? And how do we get those people to understand what those skills might be and how to help our students make that transition as well. And there were a lot of conversations. But most of it was just that, like, what, what is absolutely necessary, this is not going to be super great online, but we have to, we'll have to do something. And that kind of emergency teaching is what we talked a lot about.

AM: Some employees' roles were also deemed essential in that they were 00:13:00instructed to come to work in person. Were you among that group?

SB: I was not home.

AM: Okay. Yep. And with whom did you work most closely after COVID-19 hit?

SB: Um, so, I think it changed over time. So, in those initial few weeks, we did all the training we could. You know, I or we did- you know, the very basics you need tons more communication, then you do it, you know, in a regular face to face class, because in face to face so much of that, that interaction is through nonverbals. And, you know, if you can look at the students' faces and know, I need to back up and reteach something, or there's some confusion there. We don't necessarily have that online necessarily. And so it's a lot more difficult. So after we got through those initial training sessions, and people were kind of in 00:14:00it and teaching online, it got weirdly quiet. I think the instructors were so focused on doing their jobs that they really didn't come to me for everything. They were just- everyone was just trying to keep their heads above water. However I did- In some ways, it was nice because some of those instructors who are not as tech savvy, who really struggled with the technology, I really, like intensely worked with those people. I remember there was one instructor I think I met with twice a week for two hours each, each meeting, just trying to get them through it. And some of the time, I was just building their classes myself, and they would email me materials and I would just add it because people are 00:15:00under so much stress. So if I could take some of that stress off the plate of other- others, and it takes me five minutes, where it would take them a lot of frustration and a ton more time. Like, let me just do it for you. So some of those, some of those instructors that really needed that personal touch, I really worked intensely with those individuals. And then the others kind of, kind of had a decent handle on the technology. They were kind of on the way. And they didn't call me a lot. Uh, you know, they kind of were just trying, I think to, like I said, keep their heads above water and manage it all. AM: Was there any significant struggles with teaching stay to move online like how many courses were being taught.

SB: Yeah, so initially, I mean it was a huge difference. We don’t – I don’t – at least I don’t have a great handle on how many exactly how many instructors we have online like online instructors we have because we have different programs. So the office of Continuing Education, a lot of their online programming is like they’re veteran online instructors. Some of our College of Business instructors were online. So, yes.


AM: Let me reword the question.

SB: Yeah so number of people so you had- usually like I don’t know how many courses exactly we have online because there’s different programming, but definitely not as many as we had after. When everyone was online. And I kind of talked about some of those struggles or you know most people were okay. But then there were those ones who really just had a hard time with the technology and managing. Like I said, not everyone is an online is a great online student not everyone is a great online instructor. It’s just not in them. You know, they prefer face-to-face. And that’s okay. And so I think there was a lot a little bit of a struggle there too. Where they’re like, I don’t like this and I don’t want to be online I don’t like teaching this way. Unfortunately, we were in that situation and there was not much anybody could do about it. We were stuck. So, that’s what we did.


AM: What was it like to have the task of flipping so many in person classes online.

SB: Um, it was intense. And I know we'll talk a little bit more about this later. But it was intense, not only because I was trying to help everyone here, 00:18:00and I felt that in some ways, I felt I was the only one who could help. Because I was in some ways I was- there was- I- don't get me wrong, I have a lot, there's lots of really awesome staff, and everyone was helping. But I also have two kids at home. And so that being needed so much at work and being needed so much at home was difficult. It was very difficult. And I think I know I had lots of conversations with other moms from campus, because all the kids got sent home and just saying this is impossible. Like I can't do my job. There's not enough hours in the day to do my job and teach my kids and make dinner. You know, and 00:19:00pancakes. So I and I think that was the struggle, like feeling no matter what I did, if I, if I sat down and played a math game with my kids, my work was suffering. If I had an online meeting, and my kids needed help, that was suffering, no matter what I did, and no matter how hard I worked, I wasn't doing enough. And I wasn't doing what I needed to do for everyone. So it felt like a constant failure every single day. Every hour of the day. And finally, I know like I said, I talked to a lot of moms about this, that were also trying to work and take care of kids and don't, or I, I talked to moms, I'm sure there were dads too, that what we were being asked to do was impossible. It is literally 00:20:00impossible. And the only, like, we find, I finally had to say, you know what, I can't do it all. And so I don't get in every eight hours every day, that's just the way this has to be. Because I can't keep- this is not sustainable. And I don't know how long this is gonna last, but this is not sustainable. And my mental health was not a great place at that time. And I just remember, like, feeling like blackness coming in sometimes. And that was just like, this is something I need to change. So I had forgiveness, and I had grace for myself. And finally I was just like, I can't, I can't put in eight hours a day. Like, that's, that's impossible. I'll do my best. I'll get as close as I can. But it's just not gonna happen and so having that forgiveness of myself and grace, and a little patience was what had to happen. And I counseled other moms too. I was 00:21:00like, you do- you have to stop, because that's everyone's suffering now, including you, so let's just do what you can, and that is all you can do. So

AM: Yeah, very important. Thank you for sharing that with us. Definitely. And then what were some of the most common issues that instructors had?

SB: Oh, gosh, um, in those early days. Like I said, I really didn't hear a lot from our instructors. I think it was, I know this, and I'd have to go, oh, I should have read- I should have reviewed that. I think the most common stuff was you know, this- I don't like teaching this way. You know, and to some degree, I feel like COVID gave online teaching a bad rap. Because what we were doing was 00:22:00not good online teaching. Online teaching is fantastic. It can be really rich and really enjoyable, but under the circumstances, it wasn't being done well. And that's nobody's fault. And it was the hand we were dealt, and we were doing- everyone- everyone did amazing. Don't get me wrong, like, considering what we were dealing with. It was like, that is the one thing that I look back on and like everyone worked so hard, so hard to make sure that our students were as successful as possible. But I think a big thing was motivation. Our students really struggled with time management. So some of the skills that make for good online students are self-sufficiency and self-discipline, and time management, and you have to go in and do the work, the work is not coming to you, in some 00:23:00cases. And so I think that was a struggle for some of our students, they just didn't, you know, and then the world was literally falling apart. So on top of, you know, it's like, oh, do I want to go to math class, like, you know, I think there was just so much going on that. And then our instructors were like, what am I doing wrong, because my students are so unmotivated. They're not doing what they should be doing. And that's reflecting, you know, poorly on or they felt that that was reflecting poorly on them. And really, it was just a cruddy situation. Like, it's nobody's fault. This is, this is just where we were. And we just have to get through it. And so I think that the struggle was that we didn't know how to help this situation we're doing, everyone was doing 00:24:00everything they possibly could to, to do. And it wasn't enough. And that's a hard, hard feeling to deal with, so every day, all the time. So I think that was probably the biggest struggle, that feeling that you're not, you're not doing enough or helping enough. And our students were all every- everyone was just in rough shape. So, yes.

AM: Could you go into a little more detail on the workshops that you did?

SB: Yeah. So after that initial we went online in March. And so we had to go through March through May. And so at that time we like we just have to get through this semester, it's survival until we get through the semester. But then, in the summer, we got some money that was donated to the UW system, a lot 00:25:00of money was donated to the UW system when someone came in and an anonymous donor who basically came in and said, what do you need to help the situation and I will provide it. So this donor gave us a whole bunch of money, and in that we developed, I worked, it wasn't just me, there was a whole team of people, instructors, librarians, tech people, all kinds of people got together, and we developed a plan on how is this going to work going forward? Because we knew that those first three months, we just had to get through the semester, we just had to, to get through it. But how can we do better going forward? And so we designed a whole program on teaching online. So there was class, we did workshops on it, not only using Canvas and the technology and, you know, best 00:26:00practices for online con-, like, you know, online conferencing tools and those types of things. But we also did a lot on accessibility, so how can you build your Canvas course, so that it is accessible for all learners How, you know, having closed captions and adding, you know, text transcripts and those types of things. We- there was a lot on instructor presence, and how to lead an online class where there was still instructor involvement, you know, I think sometimes that's a huge part of teaching online is, is taking that present and even though your students are all at a distance, and they're entering the class at different times, and, and whatnot, having them so that they are there's a community there and they're all getting to know each other and learning together is a little bit 00:27:00of a skill. So we had, we had sessions on using the gradebook in Canvas and how to grade assignments and do everything that way. We just had a ton of stuff; we had a ton of programming. And so this team got together. And we led a whole bunch of professional development. Everyone worked so hard, and we had so many instructors that were taking these sessions because like once again, I said, everyone was just really working really hard to do everything they could to be better instructors for their students and meet those needs. And so then we had, I'll have to pull the numbers for you. I want to say we had at least 115 instructors complete all of the sessions. So we had a menu of different 00:28:00programming options. For example, you had to take, everyone had to take the initial like basics course of how to teach online, and then we had one, you had to take one that was all about the technology like either how to use Canvas or how to use the online meeting platform, then there was some on diversity, equity and inclusion, and how we can pull those concepts into an online class. And I think we had, you know, you could choose like, you had to choose one from this column, two from the, you know, technology column, one from the Diversity Equity inclusion column. And then we had a whole bunch of others that were like, choose your own adventure or whatever you want, whatever interests you or whatever you feel would be helpful. Do that. So we had at least 115 instructors complete the 00:29:00entire program. And now we have 400 that were involved in some way shape or form. So huge success and I think that group effort really helped set our instructors and then our and in turn our students up for success for the fall semester, fall of 2020 It would have been yes fall 2020. So that's kind of what we did to get people on board. Yes.

AM: And I know you already talked about this a little bit before, but was there anything else on how you managed your work- work life with your home life?

SB: A lot of grace, I mean, it, my, I'm trying to think back on where we were, 00:30:00because a lot has happened. But I think that that was hard. Having kids, that was really hard. Because my kids were in second and third grade at the time. I mean, they still needed, they still needed help, a lot of help. And I still had, I remember that summer, like, we live in the country, so our internet is not great. And so I would have to lead these sessions. But while I was on this, like, leading these workshops, online, my kids couldn't be on their devices, which means that they were always running into problems. And I'd really, you know, or, you know, if we started having internet problems, we have to be like, shut it all down, you know, like, everyone get off their devices, mom needs the internet. My husband was working from home, and he had the same thing. You know, 00:31:00like, he had online meetings, and sometimes they were at the same time, and it was just like, our, our country, the internet was not, not great. Sometimes I'd come to campus and just work in the parking lot. You know, we had our kids, which was, also it was kind of nice, you know, like, I could, I could be home with my kids. They could live out in the country, so they could play outside. And I could take my computer out on the back patio, and they could play, and I just kept working and working in the sunshine with your sunglasses on, not really a bad thing sometimes, too. So I think those types of things were kind of nice. I think it really helped us imagine a different way to do things. I know, I've talked to a lot of other parents who, at the time, it was like, you know 00:32:00what, we were stuck in the hustle. And we were hustling constantly, I always had to be 10 steps ahead. It always had to be planned. I remember there was one day I took a picture and there was this like pre COVID. Like, like, I want to say six or seven bags all lined up in the hall for this one soccer game. And this was their backpack. And then this was our lunches, and then our dinners to eat, you know, the one set of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and another set to eat in between pickup and soccer practice that day. And so it was just that constant. It was a hustle. And this was a forced way to kind of reevaluate, and reconsider our family, and I think that was one of the positive things that came out of it, is it everyone could see like, it doesn't have to be 00:33:00this way. We don't have to be rushing, we don't have to be hustling so hard. We can take a minute. And just having that flexibility was really nice. I know my husband and I would be like, we're gonna take a walk at lunch. This is kind of nice. Like we get to walk. Because to hang out together, you know, like, I would work my job in the morning, and then we'd all regroup for lunch that day, and just being able to be together was kind of nice, too. So that was one positive. AM: Awesome. Did you ever take any time off to deal with anything?

SB: No!

AM: No?

SB: No! I- it was I was working. That whole time. I remember that summer ‘cause I rem- at the time we were still like down a person. Cause my colleague had left and so, in that summer we’re also trying- I was running the Search and Screen trying to hire a new designer so I had help. While also trying to do my job and I remember like this department head needs you to speak at their department meeting or whatever or we need you to design a PowerPoint on this. I remember writing an email to my supervisor one night and just being like that I don’t even know what to do anymore. This is too much. Like I am burning out. But there was also no other options. You know, we’re trying to find someone but at the same time every instructional designer in the country all of a sudden got really, really popular. Because everybody needed designers. And so finding a new designer was really hard. It was- I did not take any vacation. I remember saying when this is done I’m taking at least 2 weeks. I’m just going to stare at like a wall. Um and be quiet for a while and that did not happen but um eventually I got vacation. Just not the way I wanted it. But yeah that whole summer, I just worked and worked and worked and worked. Because once again, like I knew that it was temporary and I knew that the work we were doing at that time would pay off. Like once we get to the end of the summer and all this work will pay off. Like people will be in a better position to teach their students then they were in March. And that was definitely the case. I think people really felt that was helpful. So no, I did not take any vacation during that time. And there was nowhere to go. Everything was shut down. I think we braved it at one point where we were like can we go to Bay Beach? Like should we try it? Let’s try it. It’s outside. If we take hand sanitizer with us maybe it will be ok. You know, we did a lot of bike rides that summer just trying to do stuff outdoors. While also working like crazy people.


AM: Alright, Sarah Niere will now take over the Part Two interview with Sarah Bradway.

SN: Well, thank you. Other than other challenges you have already mentioned, were there other difficulties that you encountered in regard to the way to do 00:37:00your work from March of 2020 to December of 2021.

SB: Yes, so and I might cry a little bit. But in September of 2020, so we got through this crazy summer of working, I was diagnosed with stage three cancer. So all of a sudden at 42 was diagnosed with a cancer that people don't normally get until they're like 65 or 68, and it was really serious. And so all of a sudden, my life changed. And so I've been working and say, when this is all over, I'm going to take a vacation, and I got my vacation, just not the one I wanted. So that really changed how I had, I could do work. My first phone call 00:38:00from home from that doctor's appointment was calling my supervisor and being like, we have a situation. Cause all of a sudden, I don't know what my future looks like. And I don't know what I'm going to be able to do. And I don't know if I will be here forever. So you better get that other position filled pretty quick. So that was a huge change in our lives, and in my work life. Because all of a sudden, I was going to be sick, and I had a lot of doctor's appointments. And I remember saying I'm like, I don't know, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what any of this looks like. So that was probably a big, big thing in our family that changed between March and that December because in September, I 00:39:00was diagnosed.

SN: Wow, sorry.

SB: It's okay. I'm better now. And I hope to stay that way. So

SN: How was your job changed because of the global pandemic? Essentially, what do you think of COVID has changed permanently in regards to your work?

SB: Oh, that's a good one. So I think like I said earlier, I think everyone has rethought the way that we do everything. The way that we teach, the way that we learn, the way we do business has changed. I think I am not as interested in working. No, that sounds bad. Prior to the- prior to the pandemic I was doing, I 00:40:00was trying to grow my career, I was doing consulting work, I was doing all kinds of things. And I don't know, I have a hard time separating cancer from the pandemic. So I'm not as interested in building my career. I'm not as interested in the hustle. I'm interested in hanging out with the kids and trying to make those memories. And I think a lot of people have that. I think a lot of that happened for a lot of people. I think it was more so and it was more intense for me because of my illness, but I think that was one thing that really changed the way COVID, I think that changed COVID for everyone. You know, we've seen lots of people re-evaluating their values. And where do those values lie? And do I want 00:41:00to live in a city or hey, everyone's working remotely now? Why don't I move to their country in Montana or something like that. And I think that was the biggest, I think those things were the biggest change in everyone's lives. Mine, mine is, as well. So just kind of rethinking what we are doing and why we are doing it. Kind of like working to live or living to work mindset. Like, what are you doing? Why are you doing it? And so I think that that's the big thing that changed.

SN: When did you come back to work in- person? What was like that- what was that like? Did you feel safe?

SB: Um, so I, I, that was a little different for me. Most of campus came back, 00:42:00gosh, I'm starting to like now lose track. It's like that whole year, sometimes I you know, I remember having that- those conversations with my husband, and he'd be like, oh, last year we did this. I'm like, oh, no, that was two years ago. It was like that whole year of COVID just like, ceasing to exist. So when I came back, I thought we were gone. That whole year of 2021. And I had surgery, had one surgery in May and one surgery in August. And so we really Provost, and a lot of people came back that August and they said I can't come back. It doesn't pay for me to come back because I just had surgery and I have to recover. So I didn't come back to campus until October, I think. And I tried 00:43:00coming back full time and it was just too much. And I shouldn't say full time because I worked the whole time. And I took a lot more vacation because of my illness than I normally would have, but I meant coming back to campus. I was still working from home, but it was just it was too much to- too much transition, too quickly so I ended up working two days a week from home and that worked well and I'm still on that schedule, although I think I'm going to start coming back a little bit more often because I do enjoy being on campus. And did I feel safe? I think by that point, yes. But then, I'm trying to keep it all straight. Yes. By that point I think I felt okay with masks because at that point vaccines were available and I probably would have felt very different 00:44:00prior to that and I had- Yeah, so I felt okay, coming back when- as much as I was back

SN: In the fall 2021 vaccines are readily available on campus and in fact, strong advocates- advocated by administration and CDC. What were your initial thoughts about the vaccine?

SB: I was all for it. In fact, I was very frustrated because a lot of my family- I was in the middle of chemo when the vaccines came out and so, obviously our family was in a very different position. We didn't have you know, there were these, all these people saying that we don't know if this is safe, that we don't you know, that was the only thing that I was looking forward to because of my 00:45:00immune- I had no immune system, I couldn't fight anything off. So that vaccine was kind of my ticket. And it was funny that members of my family could all get it before I did, like my sister worked with the elderly population, my other sisters in a group home, so all my brothers are on the higher weight spectrum, so they all qualified before I did. And finally, I think I just jumped the line, and I was like, I don't care anymore. When they got to be more readily available, I was like I- probably two weeks before I could technically get one but I'm going in because I- I'm scared. I was very scared for a very long time. Although I always said if you're going to get cancer, you should do it during a global pandemic, because it actually worked out pretty well in many regards. 00:46:00When I was sick, I really didn't want a lot of people to know that I was sick. I tried to keep it very, very quiet. I didn't tell anyone that I- it was like a need-to-know basis on campus. And it worked out really well for me, because everyone was working from home. If I needed to take a nap, I could just go take a nap and no one would know the difference. You know, like I'd make up the time or whatever, No. So. Sorry for the interruption. So, it worked out well for our family and it- just as I was coming out of being sick is when everything was like opening back up again. So I finished chemo in April, and I think I got my vaccines in March and April. So it was kind of like, as things opened up, I was able to go out more and the timing just worked out. And like I said, being home, 00:47:00it was good because I had no immune system. My kids weren't in school, I didn't have to worry about them bringing anything home. Everyone else was working from home. Everyone else was wearing sweatpants every day so I didn't feel bad every day and felt like garbage. And so it was easier to kind of just manage my illness and do my job. Because everyone was kind of in the same boat. So that worked out really well.

SN: How much did you feel things were getting back to normal? And for that matter, what is normal to you?

SB: Yeah, I think we're getting there. I think- I don't think we'll ever- I don't know. I- It's interesting. Like I said, I think a lot of people have reevaluated what, what they were doing and why they were doing it. And so I think we're back to as normal as we should get, you know, I think- I keep 00:48:00saying, you know, why are we doing this? And I have been talking to my husband and this is probably because my brain is broken from being sick. But I was like let's go on vacation. Like let's do all the things. Let's do like, Let's swim with dolphins. Let's do all the stuff. And he's like, whoa, simmer down a little bit. That sounds expensive. And I'd like but why not? Why? Why are we limiting ourselves like, let's, maybe we were doing it wrong before and this is the right way to do it. Let's, all those people who- I know and I- I think like I said people have just reevaluated what they were doing and why they were doing it. I just talked to another mom the other day. She's like, oh, yeah, I was working in 00:49:00finance, and I quit my job and I'm homeschooling my kids, because that's what's important and we moved from the Twin Cities to Oshkosh and now we're just saying, we're like here and living our best life and it's amazing. And I think that's what, I hope, that's the new normal. Maybe we're doing it right now. And maybe everyone was so caught up in what they were doing before that this is the result. Maybe that's not a bad thing. So I think that's the, I hope that's the normal. We can all go on vacations. Swim with dolphins!

SN: Knowing what you know now- Knowing what you know now, what would have you done differently in relation to your pandemic responses?

SB: I don't think I would have done anything differently. I think we did; I 00:50:00think I really, we really did- One, I probably would have gone to the doctor sooner because I had been sick for a little while there. But I think in regards to work, we did everything the best way, like looking back, I wouldn't, I wouldn't change anything. You know, could we have been more prepared? Maybe. But like I said, not if people- if more people had wanted to teach online, we'd be teaching online. I think a lot of our faculty prefer like, they want to see, they want that face-to-face interaction. And that's great. However, I think we should take what we learned. I'm interested to see what other, what instructors takeaway, and you know, are we going to see a growth in technology? Are we going 00:51:00to see more learning technologies? That's something I'm working on, is trying to- all those skills that we used, let's use them for good? Like, we don't have to just be- I think that the lines between online and face to face teaching is going to start blending a little bit more. That line is getting blurrier. And I think that's what's going to come out of this as far as work stuff. Yeah.

SN: What living and working during the time of COVID told you about yourself and others.

SB: People are terrible. I think honestly, I think COVID was very divisive. And I think- I think that is one takeaway, that people are terrible. Living and 00:52:00working. I, I've kind of answered that. Oh, you know, like that reevaluation is, is something that I learned, and I don't know if it were COVID, or cancer or combination of both, but I think everyone had a little bit of that my, mine might be a little more intense but I think everyone had that. And, yeah, I, I think being in the position I was in, during COVID was unique. I had friends, I'm gonna cry a little bit, because it's really sad to me, who would say terrible things on social media, you know, like, I'm not taking this, I'm responsible for my own health. I don't depend on anyone else. Bla bla, bla, bla. And it was like, I do. I'm really sick, I could die. I could leave my kids 00:53:00without a mom. And I am depending on other people. And the fact that you are so like, you don't even think about it is a luxury. I don't have that luxury. I don't have I don't I, I don't have to depend on my doctors. My life depends on my doctors. In like, 100 years ago, I'd be dead already. So doctors and medicine are amazing to me. And the fact that we are able to do the things we're able to do and the fact that you're so like, whatever, that you don't take advantage of every day that you are given and appreciate it was kind of gross to me. So I struggled with that a lot. You know, I struggled with it, even members of my 00:54:00family are like, oh yeah, we're going out for dinner tonight. And I was like, you're contributing to the problem and you're making it more dangerous for me to like, run into the Kwik Trip and get a gallon of milk, which is all I need. You know, we tried to limit our contact with others, but I think that was one of the things I learned, I mean you learned who cares about, I learned who cared about me. You know, my in-laws were amazing. They ended up taking my kids every day. And they, my kids did school at my in-laws' house because we didn't know how sick I was going to be and all kinds of things. But yeah, I think that reevaluation and, and that people are terrible, which is, like, it's so, like two sides of the same coin, you know, like, use this for good and appreciate 00:55:00your life and appreciate your health. Like, that's one thing, I was healthy. I was healthy the whole time, like my whole life until- you're always healthy until you're not. And then, and when you're not healthy, that's the number one because you can't enjoy anything if you're dead. So, yes.

SN: As long as we still have some time, I wanted to ask you a few questions about your personal, private life, fear during COVID-- would you be okay with that?

SB: Yeah, sure. I've already talked, a lot about my personal life, but we could do that

SN: We were sent home a week before spring break. What did you do during spring break between March 22-29, 2020.


SB: I worked, and I worked, and I worked, and I worked. There was no spring break. There was work work work. It was my husband and I too, cause I think that was Spring Break. Yeah, we were sent home on the 13th. And so we were home. We did nothing because we were home. We walked our property and said look at the trees. They look great.

SN: Do you remember how long you thought the university would be closed?

SB: I think I bought enough pancake mix for about a month. That was kind of my plan. Like let's be prepared for about a month. Never would I have imagined that it lasted as long as it did.


SN: Where were you living and with whom?

SB: Yes. So we live about six miles west of Oshkosh. So we live out in the country, which is really nice, and I live with my husband and my two children.

SN: How were the COVID protocols dealt with at first in your home? Masking? Social distancing? And other stuff?

SB: Yeah, we got pretty, you know, you just didn't know, that was the thing. Like you just didn't know what was happening from day to day. And so in one of those large Costco runs, I had bought, like, I'm like having before everyone, and luckily, luckily, I was the way I was because we had no problems because I had bought extra Clorox wipes. And so for a while I was like wiping down the 00:58:00groceries because you just didn't know. And I figured what is the harm? Worst case scenario, we have really clean groceries. Like, you know, the harm that could have been done if I didn't do it wha- there was potential there, but if I did do it, great. And if I you know, if I did it, and it had no effect, that was fine, too. It didn't bother me. So that was nice. It was also really nice living in the country. You know, we could get out, we could take walks, like we could see our neighbors and we kind of waved but everyone at that- those early days, everyone was so uncertain, because you just didn't know what you were dealing with. And so we could, you know, we could kind of talk to each other from yards away. Like we'd walk down the road, and we'd kind of, you know, kind of keep our distance but we could chat with people and so, yeah, that's, that's what we did. 00:59:00We just kind of hung out and played outside, and had a lot of campfires, and had a lot of cookouts. That, that kind of stuff. Luckily, we have the, we have our properties beneficial to that. It's helpful.

SN: Was there much friction or were you all in agreement about them?

SB: For the most part, I think we were pretty much on the same page. My husband was a little bit more I'm going to go out to, his job as and sales. So his job was to go talk to people, which made me nervous, but eventually, I mean, at the same time, a lot of his the people that he worked with were shutting down too. But I think that was hard for him was, he was stuck home with us. He was used to 01:00:00going out and talking to people and doing his job and mingling and going to restaurants, and he could not do any of those things. He was stuck at home with me and the kids. And I think that was hard on him but for the most part, we were on the same page. As things started loosening up, I think he was ready to get back on the road a little bit sooner than I was. I was still very weary. Probably because I had the bigger problem, could have been, you know, like, it was a little more scary for me than he was. But for the most part, like we had to, we were on the same page. Some of that was because I was sick. Like we didn't have the ability to argue with anyone, like we couldn't, we couldn't. So.


SN: Yeah, with everything that happened so quickly, how were you feeling emotionally?

SB: Um, yeah, I think I kind of mentioned this, but in the beginning, it was just like, let's get to it. Like, this is what I was made for. We're going to war. And this is what we're going to do. And let's go. Game on, let's go. And then as it happened, staying home with the kids and feeling like a big fat failure all the time was, was really hard. It wasn't so much the speed; it was just so much. So many people needed me all the time, and that was hard. So.

SN: How were the people around you coping?

SB: Um, like, my husband had a little bit, he was, he was like, Okay, I'm just 01:02:00gonna, I'm gonna go work out. Oh, that was the other thing we ordered all gym- He ordered- He's like, I'm ordering all kinds of gym equipment. And I was like, great. That sounds like fun. And so we'd get up in the morning at six and work out and so I think that was an outlet for him. My girls were pretty okay, like they thought this is the greatest. We don't have to go to school anymore. Little did they know, they had a teacher mom who was like, sorry, you're still gonna read and we're gonna play this math game. And so I had or- you know, I already had a lot of materials, but I was like, alright, well, we're gonna order this math game. And at least that's one thing that we can kind of do that isn't as terrible. But the girls didn't seem to really be fazed by it much at all. I mean, I remember asking them like, what do you, want are you going to tell your 01:03:00grandki- what- someday your grandkids are going to ask you about the pandemic. What are you going to tell them? They're like, I don't know like, we whatever like, we did school online. So I remember, it was really sad that last day of school, they were really sad about. They usually have like, a big party on the playground, and they get popsicles, and they have a DJ, and it was like this big thing, and they were really sad that they couldn't do that and that was really sad for me as a mom, like, you can't, you're being deprived of that. And that was tough. But we're kind of realists and it was like, this is, nobody chose this. Nobody would choose this. But this is where we are and so how do- it doesn't matter. It doesn't pay to say I wish it was this way, or I wish it was 01:04:00that way. Like that that's not productive, and that it's not going to change anything so let's deal with what we have and take it one day at a time. And that's what we ended up doing and I think it worked out. We watched a lot of movies. You know, we watched- played a lot of games. We took a lot of walks. We you know, tried to do things that we could still keep doing. So.

SN: Did you or anyone close to you get really sick from COVID? What were their symptoms and how are they doing now?

SB: Yeah. So nobody we knew closely got COVID initially. Most of that was because we had to take, everyone, anyone who interacted with me had to take, if you wanted to interact with me, you, you had to take huge precautions. We did. 01:05:00My grandma was 97 at the time. So she lost some friends. She's still with us. She's, she lost some of her friends to COVID and then this past October, we, my, my cousin's husband passed from COVID. So and that was, he had a pulmonary embolism. So it wasn't like he was sick for a long time. He just had a blood clot, and then he died. So it, it's still very sad and his family is still kind of recovering from that, obviously. So

SN: That's very tough

SB: Yes.

SN: Do you have anything else you want to add on?

SB: I don't think so. I think I appreciate your health; I think I live every day 01:06:00because like I said, you- and I think COVID is the perfect example as well. You know, everyone's healthy until they're not. And so appreciate every day that you have and use it wisely. You do it- do good things. Don't be a terrible jerk person. Like use, use, use it for good and do good things.

SN: So well. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

SB: Well, thank you for having me.