Michelle Voyles Oral History Interview

Meredith Cox
COVID and the History of Pandemics
Dr. Karl Rodabaugh
23 April 2021
Oral History Project Transcript
Interviewer: Meredith Cox (MC) Duration: [00:08:41] - [00:08:53]
Narrator: Michelle Voyles (MV)
April 8th, 2021 at Copper Beech Townhomes in Greenville, North Carolina

MC: Hi, my name is Meredith Cox. The date is April 8th, 2021. I'm interviewing Michelle Voyles in the location of my home (Copper Beech Townhomes). How are you Michelle?
MV: I am good, how are you?
MC: Great. So, I have some questions for you regarding your experience with the COVID-19 pandemic. Okay, so first question, what is your affiliation with ECU?
MV: I am a student. Undergraduate student.
MC: Okay, what is your year and major?
MV: I am a sophomore and I'm a sociology major.
MC: Okay. How did you learn of the university's decision to close campus and cancel activities?
MV: Um, I got an email in March I guess, that they were sending [people home] and that people weren't coming back to campus.
MC: Okay. Um, how would you rate that decision and the implementation out of ten?
MV: Um, I would say ten. I think it was the best decision because there was a pandemic happening and they just had to be safe.
MC: Okay. On what basis do you structure your evaluation of this?
MV: Um, can you elaborate that question? On what basis do I structure my evaluation?
[Narrator asked for question clarification/explanation]
MC: Yeah, so like what, like what is your reasoning for thinking that that was the best decision for the university?
MV: Oh, just because nobody knew like how serious the pandemic was and what would happen and it was just all so new, so I think that sending everybody home was just best for the safety of all of the students and everyone in Greenville and the professors. So, um, it may have been premature, and it may have been a little bit excessive but at the end of the day I think it was the best thing to do because no one really knew.
[As in no one knew what was going to happen regarding the pandemic]
MC: Okay. Um, what was your experience of actually leaving campus? Did anybody help you, move out? Um, and how did you like feel emotion wise?
[Students living on campus were forced to move out of the residence halls and return home or to their quarantined location.]
MV: Um, my mom and I came back, um after spring break and moved out of my dorm. And it was honestly just a fast process but, emotionally I feel like at first it didn't really hit me, I didn't really understand what was happening, but then as quarantine went on it was sad because I wasn't getting my normal college experience.
MC: Right. Where are you living now?
MV: I live in an apartment off campus.
[In Greenville, NC]
MC: Okay. What is daily life like for you?
MV: Um, I wake up at various times, I don't really have any set times to wake up. Sometimes I do but, for the most part I just wake up and see what assignments I have to do and get them done and there's, there's really no structure to my days. It just really depends on the day and what I have to do.
MC: I Gotcha. How has technology played a role in your life during the pandemic?
MV: Technology has been a huge role in my life in the pandemic because it's been one of my only sources of entertainment that I've been able to have, and um a way to communicate with my friends who I was separated from. And I mean, doing schoolwork with my computer obviously, everything virtual and even like keeping up with the news and stuff. It's really been an essential.
MC: How are your classes going?
MV: Good. I'm doing well in them. I like them.
MC: Good. How have your academic routines changed?
MV: Um, I feel like I've gotten a little bit lazier when it comes to doing my work and procrastinating, um because there is no set, you know, times that you have to do anything. I feel like I push stuff off, but I'm still getting everything done and turning it in. I'm not sure how the transitions going to go whenever we're back in person and on campus. I feel like I may be a little, like out of it or disoriented but, it'll be a lot more work I think whenever I'm back in person.
MC: Yeah. Are you involved in any clubs, sports, or other extra curriculars? And if so, how has the pandemic affected them?
MV: Um, yeah, I'm in a couple of things. I'm in a sorority and we're not really allowed to do anything. And it kind of stinks because we have to pay dues and we're not allowed to meet up with each other or go to the house or go on our normal trips. And then I also play soccer, club soccer, for ECU and we had a delayed start to our season, and I don't think we had a season last semester actually. But our start to the season got delayed and we couldn't do contact practices for a long time. And we just now started being able to do that, but we have to get COVID tested twice a week (spit tested). And then also we're not able to play other schools because of the contact, we can't really do that. And then, I'm also in a healthcare group and it's been really hard because it's through Chapel Hill and we're in the Greenville branch. And it's been pretty hard because I've never met the people I'm working with and it's like a hands-on kind of club, and it's just hard to work with it whenever you can't do what you're supposed to do and you just kind of have to talk about what you're supposed to do.
MC: Alright. How are you doing in terms of the impact of COVID-19?
MV: Can you repeat the question?
[Narrator was experiencing a sore throat and cough, leading to some missed questions where repetition was required.]
MC: How are you doing in terms of the impact of COVID-19? So, like have you been tested or tested positive or anything like that?
MV: I never got COVID-19 and now I'm fully vaccinated.
[Narrator mentioned that she had been tested after multiple exposures, however tested negative each time.]
MC: Okay.
MV: And none of, none of my immediate family members ever got it either, we were fortunate.
MC: Awesome. What are your impressions of the media coverage of the pandemic?
MV: Um, I personally think that they took it a little extreme over the main part- I didn't watch any of the media on it since I've been back in college really, but whenever I was in home, at home in quarantine my dad watches the news a lot, and I think that they were very um, kind of extra in their presentation, um to get a larger viewing audience if that makes sense. I think it was a big deal obviously and that everyone did need to stay home and quarantine and still do everything they did, but I think the media intentionally tried to make it scarier or display it in a way that might not have been fully accurate to like, gain more views.
MC: Right. Um, have your plans changed at all? And like was there anything to do that's like now uncertain?
MV: Yeah, um, I was supposed to go to England this summer and, for a study abroad trip, and that got cancelled. And then I was supposed to go to Canada this summer, but the borders won't be open until after my planned trip so that's cancelled. And um, there's just a lot of things that have been cancelled.
MC: How do you rate the governmental response to the pandemic out of ten?
MV: Um, under our last administration I rate it a zero. And under our current administration I rate it probably, I'm not the most up to date, but I'd say a nine or ten honestly because everyone's getting vaccinated now.
[Last administration regarding past president Donald Trump. Current administration regarding President Joe Biden.]
MC: Yeah. Um, what was your biggest concern throughout the pandemic?
MV: Someone, like, people around me dying.
MC: Right. And is there anything else you would like people to know?
MV: Um, no just keep wearing your mask and get vaccinated whenever you can and stay strong.
MC: Okay. Well, that's all I have for you today. Thank you for your participation.
MV: Thank you. I'm glad I could help. Have a good day.
MC: You too!

Michelle Voyles Oral History Interview
This oral history was recorded as part of Dr. Karl Rodabaugh's spring 2021 HNRS 2011: COVID-19 and the History of Pandemics course. Michelle Voyles was interviewed by Meredith Cox.
April 08, 2021
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