Interview with Zoe Malone, 11/10/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐AP: This is Adam Pulvermacher. In this room is myself, instructor Grace Lim, and I am interviewing Zoe Malone on November 10th, 2021, 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 experience in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Alrighty Zoe, so let's get started here. Where are you from originally?

ZM: So I'm originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It's a pretty small actual downtown area, but the suburbs where I'm from, there's like a lot of them, so a lot of people just consider themselves from Pittsburgh even if they live an hour away. I live in Upper St. Clair, which is about 25 minutes away from the downtown area, so I just said I'm from Pittsburgh.

AP: Sure. So you have lived there your whole life.

ZM: Yeah.

AP: Okay. So prior to the pandemic, what did your parents do for a living?

00:01:00

ZM: So my mom was a nurse and my dad worked in restaurant sales. He sold restaurant equipment.

AP: Okay. Um, so my first really question regarding COVID to you, can you can you recall back to the first time you kind of heard of this Coronavirus? This COVID-19?

ZM: Yes so it was probably late February. I remember it was right before me and my parents and my boyfriend all went to a trip to Chicago, we were actually going to watch a softball game, and I remember hearing about it on the news but I didn't really think much of it. Nobody really did, but we just remember it circulating and kind of hearing about it then.

AP: Sure. You know, can you kind of put a timeframe? Not exactly a date, but when you kind of remember the first time you heard about it?

ZM: So I would probably say March maybe February? I'd probably say maybe like February 28 is probably the earliest I heard about it roughly.

AP: Sure. Okay. So you know, you were hurting hearing these rumblings, You know, 00:02:00did you take it serious, or did you kind of think it was like this other stuff? I mean, I always kind of look back like the H1N1, the Swine Flu, you know we kind of had these scares in the United States, but nothing ever really transpired about it. Did you really take it serious when you first heard about it?

ZM: So, when I first heard about it, my initial reaction was the same as the Ebola epidemic and everything. I really didn't think it was going to affect us that much. I mean, the Ebola, it was serious, but it wasn't something that you know, had its effects like COVID did. So like I said, I really didn't, I didn't take it that seriously, just because I was like, "oh, it's gonna pass. It's gonna be like a flu season type of thing".

AP: Okay, sure. So going off that, you know, when was the first time you can really recall back being after you know, not really taking it serious being like, Oh, my God, this is something that's real, it's gonna start to really affect our lives.

ZM: Um, so my boyfriend just had gone back to school. He goes to Michigan State, and I remember hearing on the news that all these schools were starting to shut 00:03:00down. And I remember it was on I want to say March 9th or 10th, he texted me, and he said that he is coming home for about three weeks because of COVID, and I was thinking to myself, oh, my gosh, this is really becoming real. Then three days later on Friday, March 12th, I was in my English class. It was the last period of the day, I was in high school. I remember on the intercom they came on, and they said, "all right, we're gonna, you know, we're gonna shut down for two weeks due to the COVID 19 pandemic", and I was like, oh my gosh, this is real.

AP: Already, I would like to just chime this in. I kind of forgot this in the introduction to our story here. Zoe, could you please spell out your name? State you'd the major you're currently in as well as your year.

ZM: Okay. So my name is Z-O-E, and my last name is M-A-L-O-N-E. I am a 00:04:00sophomore, and I am a nursing major.

AP: Nursing major, and how old are you currently?

ZM: I'm 20 years old.

AP: Perfect. Alrighty. Let's go ahead and we can get back to our topic here. So after the oh my god, this was real, I was curious: Were you working during the time when everything was starting to go down here?

ZM: No, I actually wasn't. During the spring I was in my softball season for high school so I wasn't working. I hadn't worked prior to that, and I did not work after that.

AP: Okay, so just expanding off of that, you know, it sounds like you were in season with your softball, correct? How did they react to that?

ZM: So it was kind of funny. I remember it was on March 11. We were having our last picture day with the seniors and everything. We were all taking our team photos, our headshots, our posters, all that stuff. And I remember my coach saying, you know, the baseball team isn't going to travel to wherever they're going. I think it was South Carolina. And he told us that you know, they haven't 00:05:00made a decision yet. We were supposed to travel to Tennessee, which we had the year prior, and he just said, you know, I don't know what's going to happen yet they've shut down our practices. but for now, like, let's just wait and see. We were actually going to leave for Tennessee that next I want to say Tuesday, and it wasn't long after that when we got the text from my coach that you know, we're shut down for two weeks. We're not going to Tennessee, we're not allowed to travel practice, do any of that stuff.

AP: Okay, so, you know, when our first shut down the first quarantine you know, when you're sitting at home bored, did you think that after this first initial period life would return back to normal?

ZM: I really thought it would just because, you know, it didn't really seem like all that. It felt real, but it was just kind of one of those things that's like, Oh, it can't get much worse than this. You know, we were we were fine through Ebola, that didn't really affect anything. So, you know, basing off of my past experiences with diseases and illnesses, I was like, we're gonna be fine, whatever, you know. So I did think things are gonna go back to normal.

AP: Sure. And I remember from, you know, the very beginning of the interview, 00:06:00you said, your mom, she's a nurse, correct?

ZM: Yes.

AP: Did she continue to work during the first shutdown?

ZM: So my mom actually did not work in a hospital, she actually is continuing to work and still does work. She worked in an outpatient center, she worked in an OBGYN office, so she really didn't see a lot of COVID. She wasn't really on the front lines, but she did work in an office and she worked from home. So she did a lot of phone calls, that type of thing, setting up appointments. So she really wasn't affected. But I did have a friend, and her mother worked in the medical ICU at our local hospital, and she saw it all. She was the frontline, she always would post about it, and it was just crazy just seeing it all unfold from her perspective.

AP: Right, okay. So let's kind of go now to the family setting. You know, did your family were they super strict with you, when this all kind of went down? Did they not want you going out with your friends, did they just want you to stay put for the time being? How was their kind of initial reaction to all this?

00:07:00

ZM: So it was kind of conservative, but kind of not. Me and my boyfriend, we would hang out a lot, but my parents really just wanted him to come over to our house, they didn't really want me going out to their house, just because I was still seeing my other friends so they didn't want to put you know, them in danger and everything like that. My parents, you know, we would still go out. We wouldn't go, you know, in very public settings, we would go to, you know, our local parks, and trails and things like that, and we would walk but we really didn't do a lot of social stuff. Now, my dad, he still was deemed an essential worker, so he still had to go out, and he would actually just try and get out of the house as much as possible. Talk to customers, you know, go and visit them see how they were doing, obviously because the restaurant business was taking a pretty big hit because of COVID. They still needed stuff, you know, they still needed boxes, they still needed sanitary supplies, they still need all that stuff. So my dad was quite as out quite a lot, but my mom and I really stayed put more than my dad did especially initially.

AP: Sure. So after a while, you know, you weren't, I'd say we're probably about 00:08:00a few weeks, and now the whole quarantine period, and I know this was right around spring break so it was kind of a weird time with school, you know, you're going home anyway, at this time. Did you really ever have a thought that you were going to be returning back to your high school? You were a senior correct?

ZM:Yeah.

AP:Okay.

ZM:I was honestly kind of hoping that I would just because, you know, my senior year, I'll be able to do this fun stuff, especially towards the end of the year and everything. So I was hoping we would, but once things kind of start getting more and more serious and they kept adding weeks on I was like, okay, like, this isn't gonna-- I don't think it's gonna happen. So especially I was hearing you know, my other friends, too. They were saying, "yeah, it doesn't look good, and blah, blah, blah", so I was like, oh, no, this is not going well.

AP: Sure. So I'll give a little backstory this whole I'm going to use a phrase "zoom school." So I'm sure anyone that's listening in the very far future probably won't understand. Zoom is essentially, it was an online kind of video esk format. A lot of people use essentially, we use this at the University, in 00:09:00high schools, essentially to teach online. So what was your initial thought of the whole Zoom school, I like to call it.

ZM: So none of my teachers actually utilize Zoom, a lot of them just uploaded, you know, pre-recorded lectures online or just gave us worksheets, and really, "here's what you need to do, go and do it" so I really didn't have a lot of experience with Zoom. I think maybe once or twice, I got on with a teacher just to be like, Hey, this is what I need to do for project or whatever" but, you know, I actually didn't mind it, I actually preferred it. I could, you know, move at my own pace, and I could kind of do things on my own time and then I'd have the whole rest of the day to do whatever I wanted to do. So it was actually really, really nice and I really liked it and felt like you know, I was still in school, but I really wasn't "in school", so I actually preferred it over being in person.

AP: So you would say that the online kind of format after everything went online was much more easier than in person?

ZM: Oh, for sure for sure.

00:10:00

AP: Alrighty. So after the, you know, the first few weeks of COVID, and you were staying put for a while you knew that this wasn't a joke, you know, you're staying put, did you develop any stress, psychological issues, you know, depression, anything along that sort?

ZM: So I definitely became way more anxious. I already have, I've been diagnosed with generalized anxiety since my freshman year of high school, and ADHD. So it was kind of like just adding a little bit more just anxiety, Like, I don't know what's gonna happen next, "I don't know, you know, where are we gonna go from here, that type of thing, but it wasn't anything that was super, like crippling or like, oh, my gosh, my day is ruined" because of this. I honestly was mostly concerned about my travel softball season, which was different from my high school softball season, because my travel season actually happened in the summer, and it was my last year and my dad was my head coach. So that was really kind of the biggest thing that was like, "Oh, my gosh, what if I don't get this?"So that was, you know, other than that, I was really kind of fine. It 00:11:00wasn't, you know, one of those things. I know that there were a lot of people that did struggle, but I was one of the lucky or people that, you know, it really didn't get in my head that much.

AP: Sure. Okay. So obviously, you know, we essentially were told, you know, we're staying put, we're not going back to in person classes, everything is gonna be online from this point forward in the school year. You know, a huge part of high school, obviously, is graduating, you know, your work your entire young life, you know, through pre-K, middle school, high school. Did you ever think that you were going to be able to actually attend, you know, your high school graduation ceremony.

ZM: I mean, I was pretty hopeful. A lot of my friends, they still did some sort of graduation ceremony in some capacity, and you know, they actually got to walk the stage and everything and they did kind of a social distance. So, you know, I went to a pretty big high school, there was over 300, 400 kids in my graduating class, so, you know, it was a big class, but I felt like we had the room to do it, and I was really hopeful that I was gonna get my in-person graduation, but that never happened. They put it off once and they were like, okay, obviously, 00:12:00the initial ones canceled, let's wait until this time. I think it was sometime in late June, then we actually had our graduation. I think it was late July, I want to say probably around the 28th or 27th of July, and it was all online. I actually went to my school. I picked up my diploma, they took my picture, and that was it.

AP: Okay,

ZM: So it wasn't really a graduation, it was just go take a picture with your diploma.

AP: Sure, sure. Okay, so you're graduated high school this point. You know, you're in that summer before, you know, you want to decide whether you want to try to work for a living, getting, you know, further education. Did you think that attending college in person was going to be an option for you?

ZM: I was fully prepared to go to college. I was so ready to just get out of my hometown and go somewhere else. So, you know, I had a lot of hope that I was going to be able to go to college. I didn't plan on taking a gap year, I didn't do any of that stuff. I was like, "I'm gonna go. I don't care what it takes. 00:13:00It's gonna happen", So yeah.

AP: Sure. My next question, you know, did you think it's the summer at this point, so we've been living with this virus for over probably about, three-four months now. Did you think that things were somewhat turning back to normal? Or were things in your area, you know, you're from Pittsburgh, I've always lived in Wisconsin, so I didn't really know how it was like in other states. Were things kind of turning back to normal, whereas, (CANT MAKE OUT).

ZM: So Pennsylvania was always one of the very, very strict states. They had, you know, when things start to open up even a little bit, we were still, you know, only 15 to 25% capacity and other places in the United States were opening up more and we were like, okay, this is getting annoying. So it was still pretty conservative with literally everything. So I was still hopeful that it was going to end, and I was following Wisconsin, obviously, too, because that was you know, where I was gonna end up in the fall and everything. I saw they were kind of opening up a little bit. I was like, Okay, this is good like this is it's 00:14:00gonna be fine and everything, but I was still holding on to hope that, you know, we were still going to open up and we were still going to be you know, we were going to go back to life how it was before.

AP: Sure. So as someone who's from you know, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, how do you find yourself attending the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh?

ZM: So is actually kind of a crazy story. I knew that I wanted to play softball in college, and I was already looking at a school in Michigan. It was kind of a wishy-washy type of thing. I really just wanted to go there just because it was near one of my favorite colleges, so I remember my mom, her brother, actually, my uncle lives in DePere, Wisconsin, and my mom had heard from somebody from work who had gone to Oshkosh that they have a really good nursing program, obviously, my major. So my mom reached out to my uncle and he was like, hey, have you ever heard of this school, and he was like, I think from a few people, but you know, I really don't know that much about it, so I started you know, doing my own research. I looked up the school, the softball program, the nursing 00:15:00school, obviously very, very impressive, very competitive. The softball team also very, very good. So I remember, I reached out to the softball team set coach via email, and I reached out to him went to a camp, and I went to a few and then I committed and now I'm here.

AP: Nice. Um, so were you really, you know, nervous about moving, you know, halfway across the country, you know, in such uncertain times, you know, we've never really been in any position like this in literally over a century.

ZM: I honestly wasn't that nervous. I was very ready to go out on my own and, you know, be my own person. I actually am an only child, so I've had actually a lot of independence in my life. I've never really grown up around other people other than my parents. Me, obviously, my friends and everything, but I never to share anything, and I really had to, you know, do that type of stuff so I've been kind of used to being independent most of my life, and I was just really excited to kind of live somewhat of a college experience, if any, at all because 00:16:00of COVID.

AP: Sure, um, you know, how did your family you know, react to you moving so far away in these uncertain times? Were they supportive, how did they react?

ZM: So, my grandparents, more specifically, my grandmother was really nervous just because she's a nervous person, and my grandfather, too, he was pretty timid about it. But my parents, you know, my mom, she obviously her being a nurse, and she studied virology, when she was in college, she knew a lot about COVID, and kind of how it worked and everything and she was nervous, but she was more excited for me. I know, my dad, for sure was just excited that I, you know, was finally going to play softball in college and that whole thing, so neither one of my parents were really, like nervous or timid or skeptical about me coming up here in any capacity. They were all just very excited.

AP: Cool. Cool. So flash forward, we're now in the fall of 2020. You know, you're freshmen, you're moving in what dormitory did you originally move into?

ZM: So I lived in South Scott, I was on the seventh floor.

AP: Okay. And then how did you come to meet your roommate?

00:17:00

ZM: She was on the softball team, so my coach just roomed us together.

AP: Okay, cool. Did you guys share, you know, similar beliefs regarding COVID, and, you know, its aspects around it?

ZM: Um, actually, no, we did not, we were actually quite the opposite. She was a lot more like, oh, this isn't real. This is stupid, and I was a bit more like, ah, you know, I'm still gonna wear my mask around. I don't want to risk anything. So yeah, that was, that was kind of crazy.

AP: Sure. How did you think you know, the college initially, you know, handled the whole dorm situation just around campus in general, with COVID protocol, social distancing?

ZM: Yeah, um, so the one thing that I was always really frustrated with was not being able to meet people. I remember one of the first nights me and my roommate went out, we were just going out, like, you know, talking to people in our dorm, and I remember, we were standing like, in the doorway of somebody's room and officer came up to us, he's like, You can't do that, and I was, like, arriving 00:18:00in the room. So I think that there was some aspects, that I definitely was like, this is kind of like really strict, you know, how are we going to meet people? So you know, it was a bit frustrating, but I also understand why they did it, you know, it's not like it is this year, where, you know, it's a bit more under control. Like there were people were still finding out things about COVID, so I understand it, but it was still a bit frustrating.

AP: Right, nope, I understand. So let's talk about classes themselves now. Did you take any in-person classes your freshman year?

ZM: So I had one seven-week course. It was study skills, And it was only like I said, Only seven weeks. So that was the only class I went to. It met once a week and everything else was all online, all my sciences, all my everything.

AP: How many classes in total did you have to take online?

ZM: I want to say six in total in my first semester, and then five my second semester.

AP: Sure. Did you really think that the online classes were more difficult?

ZM: So my first semester not really, just because a lot of the classes that I 00:19:00had take had to take were prerequisites, and I remembered a lot of it from high school. Once I got to second semester though, I remember in particular, my science classes, I just felt like it was so much harder to actually retain the information and really just kind of want to do it towards the second semester. I was like, Okay, I'm kind of ready to go home, like COVID just annoying, I miss kind of being in a classroom, so.

AP: Right. So going off that, you know, a huge thing with classes is the interaction that you get with the instructors. Obviously, you know, when you're freshmen, you got to take a lot of Gen Ed courses that you're not familiar with, you might not like. You know, was the interaction with instructors, were they good about getting back to you, you know, how did they handle this situation?

ZM: They actually, I give them a lot of credit, they did a really nice job. You know, it was hard for a lot of people, but they were always just super responsive. At least the ones that I had, I remember, they were always just you know, super responsive, super supportive of, you know, assignments and things 00:20:00like that. I was very worried about that. I remember all my teachers in high school, were always saying, oh, well, your college professors aren't going to let this slide, but there's a lot of things that they let slide. So I think that they did a pretty good job of, you know, just keeping us at ease understanding that, you know, it was hard for everybody and not just, you know, them or one person.

AP: Cool. Okay, so let's kind of piggyback off, I remember when we were talking about the COVID protocol and kind of just how strict they were in the dorms. You know, was making new friends, you know, obviously, you came here, you didn't probably know anyone.

ZM: Yeah.

AP: You know, before coming here, was making new friends very difficult for you?

ZM: Oh, my gosh, for sure. It was just, you know, nobody really interacted with anybody, everybody just had masks on, nobody talk to each other. I'd actually come up for a visit well before COVID, and I was in the Scotts and everybody had their door open, everybody was stopping me like, Hey, what's up, you know, everybody was doing all this stuff being social and then it was just a complete kind of 180. Everybody's doors were closed, they had to be shut, you know nobody 00:21:00could go out on other floors and be like, hey what's up, you know, it was one of those things, and you can only have like one other person in your room at a time. So it definitely made meeting new people hard, especially to being online for classes, you can, you know, start talking to somebody in one of your classes, because it was online.

AP: Right. So, you know, with it being so difficult to make friends, you know, live these opportunities that college provides. How did you, were you ever able really to try to live the whole college experience during these times with so many normalized activities that we've known our whole life, you know, were restricted, you couldn't do?

ZM: Yeah, no, I don't think I lived college life to its fullest at all my first year. I think the only time that it really felt normal was when I was in season, during softball in the spring, just because I got to go out and actually do something. It was just getting to be almost maddening, just sitting in your room all the time, and even, you know, Blackhawk, Reeve, you really couldn't go and sit there because they shut it down for a lot of the time. So, you know, it was definitely, it wasn't the full experience that I was expecting for sure.

00:22:00

AP: What were some of your favorite ways, you know, to pass the time when you know, you couldn't go out and do really a lot of things you wanted to do.

ZM: So I would always FaceTime my two best friends at back home. They were still in Pennsylvania, they were both still in high school, so I'd always FaceTime them. We would make time for each other. I would FaceTime my boyfriend talk to him, and sometimes he would come up and visit, but it wasn't very often, and sometimes I would just go out and you know, walk on the riverwalk do that type of thing, just to get out of my dorm.

AP: Sure. Okay, so let's just kind of, you know, transition now to the virus itself on campus. So just a little backstory. I remember, because I was also a student at this time, just a little backstory. At this time, fall, early fall of 2020, there was a very large COVID spike on campus. You know, were you initially scared when this was going on, and a lot of people that you probably knew in your dorms, they were starting to test positive.

ZM: So I actually tested positive about a week and, and I wasn't really scared, 00:23:00I was just kind of like, oh my gosh, am I gonna get sent home again, and is gonna, you know, is the cycle gonna just continue. So my roommate first got COVID, and then I, so the whole story is actually kind of crazy. So she went out one night, and I stayed back just because I really didn't want to, and I remember she kind of started coughing and sneezing, and I was like, oh, no, here we go. So each week, we actually had to get tested for softball so I just had to test in general, every week. So I had made my appointment to go test on Thursday, September 17th I want to say that was the date, and so I remember my roommate was starting to cough and sneeze and all this stuff and the guy that she had gone out with tested positive. So I was like, oh my gosh, go and test, please. So then, about three days before I went and tested, I started feeling a little bit sick. I started getting some symptoms, and I remember texting my mom 00:24:00being like, I swear to God, if I get COVID. I did, I remember when I got my results, I went to my bathroom and I just sobbed to my mother, because they really just did not want to have COVID even though once I got into quarantine I honestly, other than having a head cold and losing my taste and smell it really wasn't all that bad. But just you know, having to move my stuff all by myself. I had to quarantine I believe it was Webster. That was the quarantine dorm, and I just would joke around it's like a prison in here, like I didn't have you know a TV or anything. I just had my laptop. I was just doing schoolwork. It was probably the hardest 10 days of my life and I always would joke with her that the bathrooms were like just prison bathrooms. They just freaked me out.

AP: You know when you were in Webster, I never was in the quarantine dorms, so I don't really know. Were you able to interact with anyone else that was currently positive that time or did you have to stay in your room?

ZM: So initially when I got there I remember the first night I was going to take 00:25:00a shower. I'd had such a long day, and I was like, "I'm just gonna go take a shower. I need to just do this." I remember walking out of my hall and there were just guys and girls, lining the hallway. I was like, oh my God, but then I realized, like, we all have COVID Nobody's going to get worse, really. So I guess you so a lot of people would like pop in, and we actually had a roommate when we were there, which was kind of odd. I was expecting to just be by myself, and I was like, okay, this is gonna be kind of nice. I can, you know, chill by myself do whatever. But no, I had a roommate. People would pop in all the time, and here I was, I was still like, I wasn't horrible, like, horribly, horribly sick, but I was still not feeling well and I just wanted to like sleep all the time and not do anything and people just kept popping in my room and I was like, "oh my gosh, please go away".

AP: How long did it kind of take you to get over your symptoms?

ZM: So the head cold really was about a week or so. My taste and smell that was the absolute worst. I remember the day I got out of quarantine. So the food that 00:26:00they gave us there was absolutely awful. It was like instant ramen, like these really dry muffins. It just was not good at all. The food was awful, and I remember I had gotten like Chick-fil-A or something, and I really couldn't taste it. I was devastated I remember. I don't think I've fully gained back my taste and smell probably until January 2021.

AP:That long?

ZM: Yeah. And it was I was expecting it to come back, and I heard people say like the longest that you know, so and so didn't have their taste and smell was three months, and that's about what it was for me.

AP: Okay. So now let's kind of talk about this. We're at the midway point, you know, heading home for Thanksgiving break, Christmas break. You know, were you able to head back, be with your family in Pennsylvania, and like be with family and friends during the holiday season?

ZM: Yeah. So I actually, when we went home for Thanksgiving break, I actually stayed all the way until we came back for the spring semester, just because all my classes were online, so I was able to stay home. I got to see my family, my 00:27:00friends, and things actually felt a lot more normal when I went back. I actually got to do a lot of really fun stuff. Pittsburgh was actually opening up a little bit more. We in November and December, they have like this place in our little central part of the city and they put up a big tree, they have an ice skating rink, and people actually got to do that. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is so nice, feels normal, and I was just really happy that I was actually able to have kind of a normal holiday season with my friends and my family because it's normally a pretty big time of year for us.

AP: Right, awesome. So obviously, you've been home now for a couple months, you know, where you were kind of nervous to return back to the campus, that kind of life, especially with so many other people coming back from all over aspects of the country because they've been home too for a while now.

ZM: I wasn't nervous about COVID. I was just more dreading, you know, going back into that routine. I knew that softball season was coming up. So that was kind of my saving grace at that point, and I was like, okay, you know, I have 00:28:00softball, it's gonna be fun. It's gonna be whatever, but I certainly was not super excited coming back.

AP: Sure. So now you're back. How was your season a softball, what were kind of the protocols they set in place to ensure you guys could play out a full season.

ZM: So when we practice, so when we first started, everybody had to wear a mask at every single practice and whatever and we had to test once a week for practices, but when season started, I want to say before every away game we had to test and sometimes, we played a lot of away games last year. So we had a test, I think the most tested in one week was three or four times.

AP: Wow.

ZM: It was crazy, and we kind of got used to it after a while. I think I ended up counting all the times I had to test. I think it was 45.

AP: Holy smokes.

ZM: The whole, I mean, that was with three months removed because I had COVID, so I can't imagine what it would have ended up being like. I remember when we would play games on the field we didn't have to wear a mask, but we had to have 00:29:00it like on our body but we didn't have to wear it over our mouth and nose, but it was actually the WIAC let it up to the athletic directors in schools. So I remember Oshkosh, they made us wear the masks in the dugout, but on the field like you can pull it down.

AP: Sure.

ZM: A lot of schools were like that, though.

AP: Sure. Did your team ever really run into any issues regarding to COVID? Or was it pretty smooth sailing throughout the season?

ZM: It was actually pretty smooth sailing. Most of us actually got COVID in the fall or summer before our season, so most of us were kind of immune to it at that point. Once the vaccines came out most of us, I remember I jumped on the opportunity. I got my vaccine, April 5. So after that point, actually still had to test because of the campus.

AP: Okay.

ZM: But we actually made it to the World Series and at that point at regionals in the World Series, If you were vaccinated, you didn't have to test and you automatically were just like fine, so I was like, Oh perfect.

AP: All right. How did the World Series play out?

00:30:00

ZM: It was actually awesome. We ended up placing fifth in the nation.

AP: Awesome.

ZM: We swept regionals. We went a perfect I want to say it was 6 and 0 at regionals. We beat a couple of rank teams, and we actually got our programs first Women's College World Series win when we went so it was actually really fun and it was pretty cool because it was in Salem, Virginia, which was actually five hours away from my hometown, which for my parents, it's a very easy drive for them, so they came and watched, and it was just really, for the first time in a really long time or something, it felt like the pandemic was actually coming to its end. We didn't have to wear masks really at all when we were down there. I remember I didn't think I had to wear it whenever I was in the hotel. I remember nobody had to wear them at the field. I think we'd like would pull them over our like we would have them on our bodies, but I don't remember actually wearing them, but I just remember being the first time I was like, "oh my gosh, like this is kind of coming to an end".

00:31:00

AP: Awesome. So kind of getting back to the whole educational aspect of the university. How did you, what did you make of the spring 2021 semester compared to the fall 2020 semester?

ZM: I pretty much thought it was the same, especially from my academic standpoint. Nothing really felt that much different, really, other than the fact that you know, now I'm vaccinated, kind of halfway through the semester. It did feel like they were kind of starting to let up a tiny little bit but, you know, I think at that point, a lot of people were just kind of getting sick and tired of how strict some things were. So, you know, everybody was just kind of like doing their own thing, not really listening to what the school was

AP: Right.

ZM: Saying.

AP: So, you know, after your semesters over, did you end up staying in Oshkosh at all, or did you head back home to Pennsylvania?

ZM: So I actually had to stay in Oshkosh, probably another month after the semester ended. So the week that the semester ended, and we had to technically move out, we were playing in the WIAC tournament, and we made it so I had to 00:32:00stay all the way until June 4th was when I left and I went home. So it was almost a good month I was here because the WIAC tournament, like I said that I actually had to move from the south from South Scott to Gruenhagen, and I stayed there. Most of everybody else just went home because they lived in Chicago or near Oshkosh and Wisconsin, so I was kind of the odd man out. I had to stay by myself kind of. So then after that we had about a week or so of practices. We were getting ready for regionals and the regional was in Eau Claire. We stayed in a hotel there, then we won that, and about a week and a half later, we went down to Virginia, and we played in the World Series. Then after that, I remember we had gotten back on Sunday, June 1st or 2nd, and we were actually doing a end of year banquet, so I had to stay for that. Then my boyfriend actually came up to help me move the last of my stuff out, and we got up at four o'clock in the 00:33:00morning on June 4th, and we drove all the way back to Pennsylvania.

AP: Awesome. How did it feel, you know, after being, you know, back at school for so long, how did it feel to finally be able to go home?

ZM: Oh, my gosh, it was like the greatest. I remember we were just driving home. My boyfriend drove all the way, but I just remember I was like, oh, I'm gonna sleep in the car. I couldn't sleep I was so excited. I remember, as soon as I got home, the first thing I did, I took a shower, and I went, and I went out to dinner with my two best friends and we were just like, oh my gosh, it was like, we miss each other so much. It had been a decent amount of time like, because of softball and everything. I hadn't been home since the end of January. So it had been a good like five months since I'd actually been in Pittsburgh.

AP: Sure. How was, you know, how was your summer of 2021? Did you work it all, you know, just chill out? How did you treat it?

ZM: So I actually got a job. I worked at a local country club. I worked as a waitress at our poolside cafe, so it was actually pretty fun. It was my very 00:34:00first job. I actually really enjoyed it. It was a cool experience. I actually got to meet a lot of local Pittsburgh celebrities. I actually waited on Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback for the Pittsburg Steelers, so that was actually pretty cool, and a lot of people don't like him, but I'm guilty, but he was actually really, really nice to us, So you know, I'll cut him some slack. It was actually really, really fun. It was actually one of my more chill summers just because I wasn't playing softball and traveling all the time like my summers before that, but it was a lot of fun. I got to do a lot of stuff. I got to travel a little bit. I know I went to Northern Michigan with my boyfriend and his family, but my family didn't go on a vacation just because my dad actually took up umpiring so he did that for a lot of the summer.

AP: Okay, sure. So, you know, after the summer, you know, we're coming back for the fall of 2021. Now, obviously vaccines are out, there readily available, you know, do you think the University did a good job trying to get as many students vaccinated as possible?

ZM: I think so, I mean the money incentive of is gonna persuade a lot of people. 00:35:00I mean, at that point, I was already vaccinated, so you know, I didn't really, I wasn't really incentivized by it just because I was already vaccinated like I said, but I thought it was a good idea. You know, it really wasn't saying we're forcing you to get a vaccine, because I know that there were a lot of schools that did do that and although I'm very happy, like get the vaccine, I'm like, I believe in that, I don't think it's necessarily the right thing to force people into it. So I think the money incentive and, you know, saying we can win scholarships if you do this, I think that was a pretty fair and good tactic to use to get people to want to get vaccinated.

AP: Sure. You know, did you think when you did return back for the fall of 2021, that the campus was much more normalized? Kind of an environment that actually feels like college?

ZM: Yeah, no, I think it felt so much different from you know, 2020, just everything just felt like just different. I felt like I wasn't like, you know, gonna be getting so much trouble if I didn't wear my mask, right, or something, 00:36:00and I knew that I was going to have in person classes, and I knew that a lot of stuff was opening back up, and everything like that, especially around Wisconsin, too. So it just felt a lot more normal, and it felt just so much better.

AP: Sure. Okay, so we're kind of, you know, closing towards the end of this interview. I just kind of have some few closing comments I want to ask you, you know, just in terms of life itself, do you really ever think that, you know, we're going to fully return back to normal life, or, you know, either we're gonna take much more precaution now that the, you know, this pandemic has kind of, it's allowed us all to become a lot more educated regarding, you know, the spread of infectious diseases and viruses. Do you think we're going to be much more safer going on?

ZM: I think it's a very individualized type of thing. You know, there's a lot of people who are very, very much, you know, very scared of the virus, and very, you know, conservative within, and there's people that really don't want to believe anything that anybody says, so I think, you know, it's gonna still be 00:37:00that spectrum of people. But, you know, I think moving forward, we're, I think that people are just gonna kind of go with the wind a little bit. I think this pandemic really changed a lot of people's opinions on things, but there is still, like I said, those people who really won't budge on anything. I know, for myself, personally, I'm definitely not gonna, you know, miss out on all the opportunities to, you know, go out and travel somewhere, or go, you know, do something just because you don't know when that opportunity could potentially be taken away from you. So I think my biggest takeaway from the pandemic was just kind of living life to the fullest. Like, you know, don't take anything for granted because, you know, I remember a lot of my friends graduated from high school this year, and I just remember sitting back and I was like, so jealous, because I didn't get to have that. You know, my boyfriend, he graduated in 2019. So he had a graduation. I was so jealous, but I think that was probably my biggest takeaway is just, you know, don't have any regrets in life really.

00:38:00

AP: Awesome. Do you have any final comments that you'd like to add?

ZM: No, not really.

AP: Alrighty. Well, thank you, Zoe, for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

ZM: Thank you.