Pass the Mic: Angie Lee

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What’s your Oshkosh story?

We moved here from central Illinois in the summer of 2015. My husband Jeremiah received an offer from UWO in the Sociology Department (go Soc!) and we were deliberating on whether we wanted to stay in the midwest.  We visited Oshkosh in March 2015 and it was still really cold and snowy and it was pouring during our visit.  We also had no luck finding a home. Yet, as we enjoyed Spotted Cow on draft at Becket’s while overlooking the Fox River, we knew there was something special about Oshkosh and we wanted to raise our family here.  Ultimately, being only 2.5 hours from my family in Chicago and only 1.5 hours away from Jeremiah’s family sealed the deal.  

What do you do here? 

I have about ten years of teaching experience.  I have taught kindergarten through eighth grade, special education, remedial reading and Spanish literacy.  When we moved here, I taught in Neenah for two years and then decided to take some time off when my son was born.  I have been home with him since.  

My best friend and I started a wellness gift box company last year called Eden (@edenwithin).  That has been a thrilling, humbling, and exciting adventure.  I come from a family of entrepreneurs but I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I do.  Eden allows me to fulfill both my need to create and my passion for wellness.  

I have the honor of serving on the board of directors for Fit Oshkosh.  I am leading an expansion of our organization and am so excited to see how we are impacting our community in a positive way.  I feel incredibly fortunate to work closely with Tracey Robertson, whose passion for social justice and race equity is contagious.  

What do you like about Oshkosh?

Gosh, I just love Oshkosh so much!  It’s funny because I was voted among my friends most likely to live in a big city during college.  I interned with Late Night with Conan O’Brien as a costume designer and it was assumed that I would move out to New York City after graduating.  But, my deepest identity, other than being Korean-American, is being a midwesterner.  I love the midwest and I love the people of the midwest.  And that goes for Oshkosh too.  I have met some of the most incredible people here in Oshkosh.  It’s the people that make a city into a community, and it’s the community I have found here that I love so much.  I have heard complaints about what Oshkosh lacks in terms of the amenities it has to offer, but that has not deterred my love for this city.  In fact, I created an Instagram account (@thegrove.oshkosh) to curate my #oshkoshlove for my #oshkoshlife.  I know, it’s nerdy, but it’s been a fun side project to document my participation in this changing community.

What needs to change in Oshkosh?

I think there are some exciting changes ahead for Oshkosh that are already in motion.  Having lived in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois for 17 years, I witnessed a transformation of a college town into a micro urban city, with multiple ethnic enclaves, an abundant arts scene, countless dining and entertainment venues, and bustling downtowns.  I believe a big part of that richness and development was because of its diversity.  The university attracted students from all over the world, but then the twin cities retained them.  I think that actively embracing and celebrating diversity and practicing inclusivity could make Oshkosh even greater.  We all know that demographics are rapidly changing – how will Oshkosh respond to these changes? 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have met with some of the most incredible movers and shakers in this community and when I speak with them, I am inspired by their visions and enthusiasm for our city. I am so grateful to be a part of this momentum and look forward to enjoying the greatness of our collective efforts.

“Pass the Mic” is designed to celebrate the richness of our diversity through simply showing and telling a little bit about all kinds of people that make Oshkosh what it is, through snowballing, or passing the mic from one person to another person in their network. Stay tuned to see who gets the mic next. If you want to be included, or nominate someone to be, please send an email to pvacatalyst@gmail.com.

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About Author

Paul Van Auken

Paul Van Auken has been a member of the sociology and environmental studies faculty at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 2007, after completing a Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison. A native of Iowa but resident of Wisconsin since 1999, Paul conducts research on issues related to neighborhood, community, land use planning and access to public space, sustainability, and teaching and learning. He also practices public sociology, regularly writing a column called “Shortening the Distance” for Oshkosh Independent. He lives with his wife and two daughters on the historic, walkable, and interesting east side of Oshkosh, near the shores of Lake Winnebago.

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