Interview with Trevor Clementi, 03/31/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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AS: This is Ava Stoveken interviewing Trevor Clementi on Thursday, March 31, 2022, for Campus COVID stories. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their 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 me?

TC: Trevor Clementi, T R E V O R C L E M E N T I.

AS: 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.

TC: I'm Trevor Clementi. Ah, hold on, oh, the title. I'm Trevor Clementi, the Digital Marketing Director at UW Oshkosh.

AS: Okay, and before we dive into your campus COVID story, I would like to get to know you a little better. So tell me a little bit about where you grew up.

TC: I grew up in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. I was actually born in Madison, then we 00:01:00moved a couple times, but by the time I went to school, I was in Fond du Lac. And I stayed there for all of my schooling throughout middle school and high school, then I went on to undergrad in Madison.

AS: Okay, so is that where you earned your degree? Or degrees?

TC: Ah yeah, I got a communication arts degree from Madison. Ah, communication arts, communication science and rhetoric was the track.

AS: Okay. Alright, so how did you come to work here at UW Oshkosh?

TC: I came back from college, to live with my parents while trying to find a job and I actually got in contact with an old teacher of mine, who was, who had a connection in the department. And so she told me that they were hiring, there was a social media specialist position, which I had not really considered, but I decided to apply anyway, and I got accepted. And I actually started doing some web stuff with them, which was a little bit more germane to my specialty. So I 00:02:00was a social media and web specialist for a while, when I started at UWO.

AS: Okay, so that wasn't your initial plan, then?

TC: No, I don't, I don't really know. But when I started undergrad, I was going to be a psychology major. And then I tried HR. And then I tried um, I forget all the other ideas that I had. But I eventually settled on communication arts because I felt like it was a good combination of the, the human side that I was interested in, like the people and why people work and what makes people work. Um, plus the actual communication, I did a lot of projects about websites and videos and making content for people and all that. So I felt like that was a pretty good way to go. And it ended up being a lot of my career--actually, I don't use a ton of my communication arts classes, but I took a track about digital marketing and digital design, which I use a lot too.

AS: So you explored quite a few different majors. Alright, so what year did you 00:03:00come to work here and start your job?

TC: Um, 2016, hold on, 2016 was when I graduated, and yeah, I started here, um, that September.

AS: Okay, so not long after. When did you become the director of digital marketing?

TC: That, oh, gosh, it was a strange long transition throughout, throughout COVID. I don't really remember the specific date. It was basically over the course of the last few years. My job transitioned from mostly managing the social media accounts to starting to manage a little bit more of the web strategy. Um, so I, I was always involved with creating web pages, but now I'm a little bit more in charge of what we do and why we do it, and what everything looks like.

AS: So how many people are you responsible for, or in charge of?

TC: Ah, I lead a small team of one, I mean, I have one sort of employee that I 00:04:00supervise, and we're hoping to hire more and sort of focus a little bit more than we have on social media and digital marketing.

AS: So what are you responsible for, in terms of your work?

TC: What I do is pretty much split half and half between social and web. Lately, I've been doing a little bit more web, but ideally, it should be social marketing, digital marketing, you know, through Google ads and Facebook ads and, and other sorts of digital, digital, digital ads. Um, but also just the website itself and making sure it runs, making sure it's accessible, making sure it's, you know, it looks good, and making sure it shows up on search results. All the little pieces of web design and web management are generally part of my job. It's not, it's not terribly well defined, but it is a, it is a nice job I like 00:05:00to- I like to have that variety and that sort of lack of structure because it helps me be able to do cooler things. And ah, you know, I'm not necessarily tied to any specific work throughout the day. I'm, I'm doing all sorts of different work from social media to web. And sometimes I'm completely on, I mean, we just started working on the campus vision screens around, around campus. So basically, if it's got a screen, I- it's eligible for me to work on and everything like that.

AS: So when you're doing these, this web work and things like that, is it a lot of your ideas? Or is it coming from somebody else?

TC: We work with partners around the university. So for example, maybe the philosophy department wants to make an edit on their web page. So we work with them to combine their needs, with our needs, as far as branding and everything. Um, so sometimes it's a conversation. And also sometimes it's a little bit more directed by us but directed by the marketing department when we have marketing 00:06:00campaigns. And when we have um, you know, big campus crises like we had over the last few years, that's, a lot of that strategy is coming from us, we are figuring out what to do um-- and yeah, I guess I do, I do sort of ideate a lot of the direction of where we go. But I've got a great team that I, that I rely on, and we bounce ideas off each other. And it's a good time.

AS: That's awesome to be able to communicate with them and-

TC: Absolutely.

AS: everyone else's opinions. Um, so tell me about your position and role in the EOC at UWO.

TC: I started with them basically because, um, basically because there was buzz on social media, and they wanted to get out in front of it. And so I was brought in by the police department and everybody else who was starting up the EOC because they wanted somebody to be able to be in these meetings and thus be able to answer questions and put the right information out there when Chancellor had, when Chancellor had announcements. We had to communicate those announcements 00:07:00through web and through social media and through email. And so I was responsible for taking a lot of that messaging and putting it out in a way that was digestible by the masses. And also, you know, answered as many questions as possible while still leaving room for when we didn't know the answers to questions, when we were still sort of figuring something out. We had to communicate that in a way that didn't make people angry at us.

AS: Okay, so now let's move to the early days of COVID. When was the first time you remember hearing about COVID-19?

TC: Oh, I guess it was probably, yeah, it was late 2019. And I forget if our first meeting was still in December, or if it was, if it was in January or February. But we all got together and said, "oh no, this virus is coming up," and none of us were thinking too seriously about it. We were just sort of getting in front of the marketing and the messaging. And that was, that was about it. And then, as we continued to hear more about it and continued to think 00:08:00about things more seriously, in our own location, then those meetings started to get a little bit more serious.

AS: Yeah, it's definitely a lot more serious than people thought it was at the beginning, but I'm sure you were prepared either way.

TC: We tried.

AS: So what was your initial reaction to the news?

TC: To the news of the virus, I don't know. All sorts of things happen all over the world every day. And, you know, I remember having that kind of reaction like oh, yeah, something interesting is happening on the other side of the world, something to keep up with on the news, but certainly didn't think it would affect me specifically as much as it has affected all of us. But yeah, as it, as it started to become more clear that it would affect us, I definitely, um, I think my feelings were a little bit of, you know, almost, I don't want to say excitement, but like energized by, you know, okay, the world's changing, like, 00:09:00what are we going to do? How are we going to figure this out? How are we going to get moving? And so it wasn't until, it wasn't until it really hit that the dread came, for me at least.

AS: Yeah, I don't know. It was definitely something that sparked all of our attention, and not a lot of us had a plan for the future.

TC: Yeah.

AS: Um, so how would you describe your feelings about the disease itself?

TC: Um, I don't know. The disease itself is, you know, as we've learned more about it, it's not the most dangerous disease in the world. It just got so big, and it got so big, so fast, and we didn't know anything about it. So I guess, the first few, the first few months, it was definitely a good amount of fear of, you know, wondering what this disease was all about. The anxiety was really high. As the CDC was sort of like switching what it was saying all the time, basically trying to figure out more about how serious it was and how scared we should all be and whether we should completely hunker down and never leave our 00:10:00house or whether or not it would, whether or not it would be okay to meet with small groups. Um, at some point, it got pretty serious. And I would say my feelings about the disease itself ranged from fear to, you know, annoyance. It certainly got to an annoyance later on, when we realized it would be affecting our lives so much.

AS: So, did you ever end up getting COVID itself?

TC: No.

AS: Or get really sick?

TC: No, I didn't. And nobody in my immediate family did, but I, I knew some people who, who got sick. I don't know any, I'm not connected with anybody who, who really had a hard time. I mean, I have, I have connections to people who have died from the disease and, and who had a really hard time with it. But luckily for me, there was nobody in my immediate, immediate family who had more than just mild symptoms.

AS: Well, that's nice. Alright, so let's talk about your situation when the 00:11:00university closed the campus in mid-March. What were your feelings as everything, UWO and elsewhere, in mid-March started shutting down all of a sudden?

TC: Yeah, that was honestly, that's sort of what I meant by, um, the energy. I, I, absolutely, in my life, I'm sort of excited about when things change in big ways. And so I wasn't all upset when we had to, you know, go home. And when we had to, you know, stop gathering in big groups, and everybody started going on Zoom and everything was weird. Because I started, I guess, partially because I understand the reasoning behind it. It wasn't, it wasn't a big problem for me to you know, sort of, alright, yeah, I guess I can work from home. Yeah, I guess I can, you know, do Easter through zoom, I guess I can, you know, we can make all these changes to our life. And that actually is, you know, that was not the worst part of COVID. The worst part of the COVID was, was the disease, of 00:12:00course. And so dealing with that, and trying to avoid it, it was, was pretty okay for me at first. It only got to be a slug later, after the summer, when we all had to stay inside, and it was so cold. And we couldn't do these sort of outside hangouts that we had decided to do. And we couldn't do all of them, certainly throughout the summer, and throughout the spring of 2020. There was a lot of, there was a lot of like adventures, like we would go hiking, and we would go walking. But that was a lot harder in winter, of course. So that's when it started to get a little bit more bleak.

AS: So did you expect all that? The closing of school and-

TC: Oh, no.

AS: not being able to go out?

TC: Yeah, absolutely. We, we were, we were definitely thinking it would be a smaller deal. You know, they were talking about just a few weeks, just a few months. But actually, I remember back in, I don't know, back in winter of 2020, there was, there were some healthcare people and, not necessarily the CDC, but 00:13:00people who actually worked in hospitals and people who were seeing the thick of it every day. They were saying things like, "I got hunkered down for two years of this." And you know, we were like, "haha, that's not going to happen." But turns out they were right. And so I never doubted healthcare again.

AS: Right.

TC: Yeah, just the opinion I, I throughout COVID, I developed a much, much deeper understanding and respect for the opinions of healthcare professionals.

AS: For sure. So what happened in your department? What did you discuss with your team? And in fact, who is your team?

TC: So I have that one employee who I supervise on our web team. And the UMC team, in total, is about 20 people. So the digital side that I work on is one arm of that, we all went home, except for the photographers. Well, the 00:14:00photographers went home, the photographers started to come back eventually, but the rest of the marketers all, all stayed, you know, stayed at home for most of 2020 and 2021. Which was okay, because actually, most of our work is online. And you know, it's only when we would like, like I said, for our photographers who actually have to be somewhere to take a picture of it. And also people who were working on physical materials and people who were needed for meetings and people who were needed for, you know, that was a little bit less of UMC's role. UMC's role, like I said, is a little bit more online and a little bit more remote. So we were able to stay at home for a good long while.

AS: Okay. So what were some of the major changes in your work when campus began to shut down?

TC: Yeah, my, my job changed completely during COVID. Instead of, you know, 00:15:00making edits to websites, and, you know, continuing a social media strategy, it completely flipped into communicating about the disease, communicating about what we both should do, when the testing center started communicating about the testing center, ah, and also just in general responding to feedback and questions and worries of which there were a lot. I spent a lot of my day responding to inquiries from community members, and, and also faculty and staff and students who just wanted to know what our plan was, who just wanted to know why our plan was what it was. And some people, some people thought we were doing too much. And some people thought we weren't doing enough. So somebody had to respond to all of them. And I guess I, de facto became the person, at least initially, who responded to people and, and forwarded their concerns to the 00:16:00Emergency Operations Committee. And when there was something, when they were, when they had a concern that I couldn't actually answer, I forwarded that on to, to Chief Liebold or one of the other sort of leaders of that discussion. So I can't imagine that I had the hardest part in, in responding to people and talking to the public, but I certainly had a big part and at least taking the first line of questions, and, and feedback, you know, either, either positive feedback or, or negative feedback.

AS: So your workload definitely increased through--

TC: Yeah, I was, I was working constantly. I have the, we had these long meetings with the Emergency Operations Committee, and I remember my fiancée, my girlfriend at the time, would like, sneak into the rooms that she wasn't seen by the webcam and like slide a plate of dinner onto my desk because I wasn't eating. So it was, it was, it was so much to do. And responding to all those 00:17:00questions took up hours and hours, because there were hundreds of people who wanted to know more, who were interested in why we're doing things the way the other universities were doing things and people who are interested in telling us how much they hated us, because of all the changes we were making. So, it was, it was very stressful and a lot more work. I don't think I've ever worked that hard.

AS: So your life outside of work really didn't exist at this time, then.

TC: No. And that's, that's okay. Because this, you know, this is early 2020 when we weren't really allowed to have much outside life, and I poured a lot of that into work, which I'm glad it wasn't any longer than it was because I was able to handle it. But I certainly wouldn't, I would have burned out if we, if we had that much to do for, for any longer. It would have been a little bit too much 00:18:00for me to handle.

AS: I believe that for sure. So with all your work being online, either way, some employees' roles were also deemed essential, like you were talking about the hospital workers and things like that. So in that, they were instructed to come to work in person, were you among that group?

TC: I was not.

AS: Okay, so what was your workspace like at home, then, your office or?

TC: I had a desk and a little rollie chair because I hadn't brought my stuff from my office because we thought we were going back pretty soon. So I had brought home my monitor, you know, my keyboard. Other than that, it was just a desk that I already had at home and a little rollie chair that I already had at home. I set up a little corner of our living room and I worked in there, which ended up being pretty, you know, at least moderately sufficient. Eventually, I moved to a corner in a different room of the house once we needed a little bit more permanent location, but it worked out pretty well. I didn't have too much 00:19:00discomfort working from home.

AS: Well that's good, because you were there for a while. So when did you come back in person?

TC: I didn't. So I, I actually am here on campus for the first time in like a couple weeks. I yeah, I've been working from home. Like I said, most of the marketing department has most of its job online. And so I took advantage of that to the fullest extent. And I honestly, I honestly like working from home a lot, and so I am grateful for this strange change that's been brought on by the need to work remotely. I don't think that we're going to work remotely forever, but it's still, it's still something for as long as you know, until very recently masks were required. And so we figured, I guess if masks are required, then it's not 100% safe, so we'll just stay at home.

AS: Might as well.

TC: Yeah, right.

AS: So, with whom did you work with most closely when you were executing your response to COVID-19?

TC: I worked with Michelle Bogden Muetzel, and Peggy Breister a lot.


AS: Who are they?

TC: Peggy Breister leads up marketing. And Michelle Bogden Muetzel was involved in the data collection, she had a, a million different hats when this was all starting. I think she started in the office of sponsored programs, but just everyday she had more to do. So yeah, it was, it was absolutely wild. And certainly, Kim, I talked to a lot. and Chief Liebold, I talked to a lot, you know, obviously, the big players and how we responded to COVID. And so mostly, when I was talking to them, I was talking about, you know, what's the answer to this weird edge case that we hadn't considered in the meeting? And they were like, oh, gosh, I don't know. And so we, we figured out the answers to a lot of questions together. And so I'm very grateful to them for all their help. A duty of mine that I forgot to mention until now is holding up the dashboard of cases 00:21:00on campus and testing on campus. So when that testing center was started, we also put up a dashboard for all of the tests that we were doing on that, at that testing center, as well as all of the, all of the reports of positive cases that had come in from people who tested off campus. That had to be updated every day. So a lot of my work with, with Michelle, with Michelle Bogden Muetzel was getting the data from her and putting that online and making sure that it all looked good, and that it was all updated-on time. Because a lot of times people would be pretty angry with the department. If not, you know, UWO people would be understanding but people who were in the community would be very angry if we didn't update our dashboard on time, which I can understand. Because, you know, there was a lot of fear in the air, but we certainly dealt with a lot of angry people at that point.

AS: I believe that. So when talking with Michelle and them, was that through 00:22:00email, or did you guys zoom?

TC: Yeah, we mostly, mostly communicated through email with my boss, Peggy, the director of marketing, marketing communications, we, you know, we had more often, with my boss, we had meetings more often than we usually would through zoom. Anyway, yeah, it was mostly email that we communicated and that I communicated with everybody on the EOC as well.

AS: Okay. What would you consider your three biggest challenges regarding your work from the March of 2020 to December 2021. So describe to us what we needed to be done in your department and the area of responsibilities?

TC: Yeah, the biggest challenge was certainly the amount of people with questions that we had to respond to all the students and faculty and staff who 00:23:00had questions. And so part of that was reactive, responding to their questions. And part of that was also proactive, in my endeavors to try to anticipate what kind of questions students would have and try to answer those questions before they even came up. And so that was a huge challenge that I was able to work with the marketing team, with Peggy, and with the rest of the people on the marketing team who had a little bit of an idea of what kind of questions would come up. You know, when changes would happen, I would get a quick glimpse of what, of what the biggest sticking points would be or what the biggest concerns would be in there, that then I would wrap those into how we communicated about everything. A second big challenge is every time that, every time the chancellor or police chief made a big announcement, it was my job to take that announcement and put it on our website. Because everybody who was, everybody who's not a 00:24:00staff or faculty member at UW Oshkosh wasn't getting these, these emails, you know, all the parents who weren't getting the student emails and all of the community members who weren't getting the staff and faculty emails. And so in order for us to have as much transparency as possible, we took all of those emails and we put them on the website, and I was trying to do that as quickly as possible. And so the biggest challenge there came from all of a sudden getting an email at like 8pm and saying, I should really put this on the website so I, okay, I did, and I put it on the website and then all of a sudden, we would get all sorts of questions based on it. So I would be sitting on the computer waiting, answering people's questions. It was a little bit unhealthy at that point, but we got through it. I thought had something for the third, what was the third? Oh, probably the dashboard would be the, would be the third, the third big challenge. Also creating that dashboard and creating a dashboard that 00:25:00is easily updatable, and creating a dashboard that looks good, but can be updated really quickly is actually kind of, it took a lot of sort of engineering to make that all work. And so I was pretty proud of how that all came together. With that, I talked a lot with our IT department, specifically Cole Reinke, our webmaster in that department. And we were able to put something together that was, like I said, updatable, but also functioned well.

AS: So you definitely had a lot of challenges. It seems like you faced them head on.

TC: Yes, thank you.

AS: Yeah, so although it's hard to find positivity while taking part in the pandemic, what three things are you most proud of regarding your work during COVID-19?

TC: Um, yeah, I do, I was just thinking about that website and I, that web, the website that currently exists now is a little bit, it's certainly in different, 00:26:00right now as we speak, it's the Titans Return website that we sort of rebranded it as when we all are coming back to campus. But that same website during the first few months of the pandemic was just the Coronavirus website. It was just UWosh dot EDU, slash Coronavirus. And it was, it was my idea to put that together, I just sort of, I just sort of realized one day that we were going to need a, a home base for all the information that we were sending out. And so I just saw, like, put it together without anybody asking me to and I said, hey, does anybody want this? And they were like, yeah, cool. Put it live. It was, it was wild. It is, usually when we make websites from scratch, we know that that goes on a span of months. But this one, we spun up in a couple days and, and pushed go the next day. So that was honestly, I felt pretty good about my contribution there. Being able to do that so quickly, and just have everything 00:27:00there, which I was pretty proud of. Yeah, I guess another thing I'm proud of is the design of the site, and specifically the dashboard. Like I said that it took a lot of work to put that together in a way that you know, I had to update it every day. And so it was, that that engineering challenge of making it very editable, but still looking good was another thing that I was pretty proud of.

AS: I feel like there's a lot of things to be proud of within your job, especially when you're able to like, come up with your own ideas, and like you said, this website that nobody really knew about until it was done. And you were like, should we do this? And they're like, yeah!

TC: Yep.

AS: So how was your job changed because of this pandemic? Essentially, what do you think COVID has changed permanently in your regards of work?

TC: Absolutely we are doing a better job of putting information online. 00:28:00Actually, I don't know if I can say that. I think that we're doing a better job of putting things online, certainly, I guess I should say, we still have a ways to go. But when changes happen with COVID, and when changes happen to how we are structuring our university in order to deal with changes. For example, right now, the Algoma, and Vine are, are all torn up. So we have a, we have a little, you know, website, that's a home base for that information. And we probably would have done that anyway. But we have a little bit more infrastructure to put that kind of thing together and, and to structure that work. And so I'm actually not involved with that project whatsoever. But we still have, I think it's still helped by the fact that we have a little bit more of a focus on digital communication. Having those resources available online instead of just having to, having to call for that information or having to email for that information 00:29:00would make people upset with us probably. So I would say that's the biggest, the biggest change and also, of course, the working from home is a ginormous change that we did not expect to work so well. Everything, everything's working pretty well. Everybody's doing their work, and there's no, there's no immediate need to go back to the office. Honestly, the real reason that we're considering going back is because we missed a little bit of the interpersonal communication and the, and the team atmosphere. All of the work itself is getting done totally fine, so that's a, that's a huge change that COVID brought on.

AS: So overall, could you say these changes are beneficial?

TC: Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, obviously it was a bad thing to happen to the world, but it also spurred a lot of creativity, and it spurred a lot of invention based out of the need to figure out better ways to do things.

AS: So what do you know now that you would have done differently?


TC: I would, that's a good question. I think that the big thing that I would do differently in general is to, is to spend less time on the little details, because I spent so much, you know, time responding to one person and making sure that one person got a good response from us. And while, I'm glad that I did that, it would have been a better use of my time to spend that same amount of effort on the, on the website itself on the, like, the FAQ page that we made, and the updates to our system, you know, if I, if I took all those hours that I spent responding to single people, and I instead worked on our, our broad reaching, you know, large audience materials, that might have been a little bit better use of my time. But, uh, c'est la vie. Um, yeah, I guess that's, that's a big one. But I guess, I don't really think, I think it was, so it was so wild, I 00:31:00don't even know if I, if I gave myself advice at the beginning of this, I don't know if I would have been able to take it, because just so much was changing at every day, at every point. I'm very excited about how simple it was. It wasn't simple, but how simple the EOC made it look, when, when we were deciding, you know, how to restructure the educational experience. Everybody was, you know, shouting out ideas, and everybody had a good, you know, good input into how things should move forward. And so it was pretty humbling to be part of those conversations, since I really didn't have much to do with them. I was, I'm really the messenger and all of this. So yeah, I'm not, not answering your question in the slightest. But it was, it was pretty cool to see all of those ideas come together in a really productive way.

AS: Okay. I feel like it'd be hard to focus on the little things and the big 00:32:00things all at once.

TC: Yeah.

AS: You know, I feel like it's just so much that it's, all binds together almost, if that makes sense.

TC: It absolutely did.

AS: So getting deeper into COVID itself, in the fall of 2021, vaccines are readily available on campus, and in fact, strongly advocated by administration in the CDC. What were your initial thoughts about the vaccines?

TC: Um, I was, I was down for the vaccine. You know, I in general, I believe the experience of people who have studied something more than I have. So the, you know, the CDC requirements came out, and I wasn't, I had no problems with following, you know, their directives for, for gatherings or for mask usage or for vaccines.

AS: So with the vaccines, and all the things they're trying to do to make this better, how do you feel things are getting back to normal? And what do you consider normal?

TC: Well, this feels strange, we're recording in a room without masks on, which 00:33:00is the first time I've been on campus without masks for, you know, a year and a half, that feels really nice and normal. It also feels nice and normal to, to gather in spaces again, you know, that that's, I think that's the biggest thing that I missed is to, is to be at a location. Honestly, that's a very simple thing, and I'm sure that's I'm sure that's shared by many people that the hardest change was the lack of the, that human connection, and we're getting a lot of that now. So that, it's it's feeling nice. It's feeling like we're on the right track, at least.

AS: Getting to normal, at least.

TC: Yeah, absolutely.

AS: Alright. So what has living and working during the time of COVID taught you about yourself and others?

TC: Um, it taught me, let's see. When we were, when I was in that initial sort of phase of working really hard every day and, and, and singl mindedly on my 00:34:00projects, for hours on end, it was honestly the, the hardest I've worked in, in my life, I think. And so I certainly learned about myself and how I respond to stress. I learned about myself, that's, uh, you know, sometimes I've got a little bit of an ADD brain sometimes, but the necessity of working on that so singlemindedly, sort of helped me focus and helped me figure out organizational systems that helped me work. I think that, I think that had effects on me and helps me to this day to figure out how to prioritize a little bit better and how to work on those multiple projects all at once like the individual things and the, and the larger things, but at the same time, I got a little bit better at that throughout this whole process, too.

AS: It's kind of crazy to think about how like COVID has actually helped people in some type of way. For how much it has changed people's lives, but it's still 00:35:00beneficial to you like you still learn stuff about yourself and your work, so that's always cool. So as long as we still have time, I want to ask you a few questions about how you personally, in your private life, fared during COVID. Would that be okay?

TC: Yeah.

AS: Alright, so we were sent home a week before spring break, and you continued to work from home. So what did that work consist of? And was it difficult to adapt to?

TC: Right, uh, about, about, well, every day would start out, I'd make a, I'd make an honest crack at doing my normal work. And then I would just sort of get sucked into meetings and emails and responding to feedback. Like I was talking about before, it continued straight through lunch. Usually I, I usually slunked to the kitchen at some point to grab, you know, something to eat. And, or, like I said, my fiancée would just sort of like slide a plate on my desk. But yeah, 00:36:00I sort of just worked, worked and worked and eventually got to the end of the day, whenever that was, it was weird, it was a little bit weird, definitely, to go straight from my desk to, you know, the couch, and yeah, we would watch TV or whatever, because that's all we had the energy to do, and then we would go to bed. My fiancée at the time was, I mean, my girlfriend at the time, fiancée now, was a contact tracer during at least the second half of COVID. So she was also working, you know, for hours on end, like responding to people who had the disease and who were missing work because of the disease and who had to test for it because of one of their family members, so she was also feeling-, feeling the stress from her side, too. And we were just, we were just beat. So that was our lives were sort of run by work for at least that few months.

AS: I mean, at least you weren't alone-

TC: Yeah. It was really nice to-


AS: in this whole adapting to the whole thing.

TC: It was really nice to have that, that piece of support by me. I, I can't imagine how I would have fared if I were, if I were living alone at that time, just because you get lost in your head when you're when you're-

AS: That's for sure.

TC: when you're at home too long. Yeah.

AS: Alright, so do you remember how long you thought the university would be closed? I know you said at the beginning of this that you didn't think it was gonna be closed as long as you thought, but do you have a rough estimate of how long you thought?

TC: I can't really remember, I bet I thought it would be closed a couple months. Because people were, you know, some people were saying two weeks, and I was like, Haha, I'm so, I'm so smart. I bet it's gonna be two months. But woe is me. And that's, that's, that's again, where I learned to trust the opinions of people who are nurses and people who are doctors, because they were the ones who were saying it's gonna be a long haul.

AS: So with your wife being at, or not your wife, your fiancée being at home with you, how did COVID protocols, how were they dealt with that home?

TC: Um, that was, it didn't, it didn't bother us too much, because we didn't go 00:38:00anywhere. Honestly, the big problem was seeing our families or the lack thereof. And like I said, we had a, we had a Easter on zoom with one half of the family, with my side first, and then we had an Easter on zoom with her family. So, it was, I think the biggest change was a change in how we were seeing our family and our friends. But as far as our dynamics at home, it didn't change too much.

AS: Because I know some people like with masking, social distancing, and like just sheltering at home in general, like some people were very, like, cautious about that, but you guys were pretty cool about it?

TC: Yeah, I think we were, I think we were pretty, as cool as we could be in that the frustration and tension comes from when the, when the way that we want to live is different from the way that other people want to live. So like, some people are saying, "Hey, do you want to come out to this party that we're 00:39:00having?" And we're like, yeah, but no, that was, that was certainly the cause of the most tension.

AS: You probably didn't have a lot of time to leave the house, either way.

TC: Yeah, that's true, that's very true.

AS: Since--

TC: That's I think that's what we blamed it on. I think we're like, yeah. we're, we're working too hard. Uh, yeah.

AS: All right. With everything that happened so quickly, how were you feeling emotionally?

TC: It was absolutely a tough year. I don't, I don't think that I have, I don't think that I have too much to complain about as far as how it affected me. Like I said, I've been very fortunate that nobody close to me has, has had too hard of a time with the disease. As well as you know, nobody close to me has, has lost a job because of the- but actually, my, my fiancée sort of got booted out of a part time position but she's better off now anyway for it. But like I said, I'm not too, I'm not connected with anybody who had a very hard time over the 00:40:00last couple years. And I do know that there are a lot of people who have had a hard time, either with the, either with the disease itself or with, you know, all of the ripple effects from it, so. So even though I feel like I'm okay, I do, I do sort of feel like it is a traumatic time for the world and for you know, our communities, which is certainly affecting too.

AS: So with the people around you at work and at home, they all coped fairly well?

TC: I believe so, you know, at least, at least they put on a brave face for it.

AS: Yeah. Do you have anything else you want to add?

TC: I don't think so.

AS: You don't think so. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with me. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

TC: Awesome. Thank you so much.

AS: Thank you.