ROHA Pandemic Interviews

 ROHA Pandemic Interviews

Project Description

In 2020, the Rutgers Oral History Archives began to document the experiences of individuals throughout Rutgers and New Jersey communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. The interviews are autobiographical with a focus on pandemic-related issues. This series of pandemic oral histories is ongoing, and new interviews will be added periodically.  For additional interviews, visit Voces of a Pandemic on the Rutgers Oral History Archives website.

Interviews

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  • Antonio Calcado

    Description: Antonio M. Calcado has served as the Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning and Operations and Chief Operating Officer at Rutgers since 2016. In this two-part oral history conducted by ROHA Director Shaun Illingworth and History Professor Dr. Paul Clemens, Calcado discusses his family's roots in Portugal, childhood, education, career and experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. Calcado grew up in the Ironbound section of Newark and earned his undergraduate degree in political science at Seton Hall and Master of Public Administration at LaSalle University. In a career at Rutgers spanning more than thirty years, Calcado has held a number of leadership positions, including Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning, and Senior Vice President of Institutional Planning and Operations. He is a leading expert on deferred maintenance. As the Emergency Management Coordinator, Calcado directs the University's responses to crises. Topics discussed in the interviews include preventative maintenance, involvement in professional organizations, Hurricane Floyd, Y2K, the merger of Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and subsequent establishment of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hurricane Sandy, public safety issues, development of the College Avenue and Livingston campuses, emergency preparedness, and the 2030 master plan. In the second session, Calcado delves into the Covid-19 pandemic. He traces the opening of the Emergency Operations Center and mobilization of the Rutgers COVID-19 Task Force during the early days of the pandemic in February 2020. Having contracted the virus in March, Calcado discusses his own experiences battling Covid-19, during which time he was hospitalized. He explores the University's response to the pandemic, highlighting considerations that have factored into decision-making involving a number of topics, including switching to remote instruction, repopulating campuses, and dealing with the impact of the financial crisis.
  • Debora La Torre

    Description: Debora "Debbie" La Torre was born in 1982 in Lima, Peru. In the mid-1980s, her father immigrated to the United States, and she and her mother soon followed. The family settled initially in East Newark and then in Kearny. La Torre graduated from Kearny High School in 2000 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. After basic training, she was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii with the 58th Military Police Company as a combat medic. In 2004, she deployed with her unit to Afghanistan to Bagram Air Base, where she rotated between serving as a combat medic on patrols, at the combat support hospital, and in the detention center that held enemy prisoners of war. Following her deployment in Afghanistan, La Torre was stationed in Germany with the 67th Combat Support Hospital in Würzburg and then the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Kaiserslautern, during which time she worked in the emergency room at the military hospital at  Landstuhl. After deciding to get out of the Army, La Torre went to nursing school on the GI Bill at Bloomfield College and then got her Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN). She joined the Army Nurse Corps Reserves and currently serves, at the rank of captain, as a medical readiness officer. She is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC). During nursing school, La Torre became involved in the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN). In 2020, she became president of the New Jersey Chapter of NAHN. The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2020-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.
  • Barbara Lee

    Description: Barbara A. Lee is a Distinguished Professor of Human Resource Management at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR). She was born in 1949 in Newton, New Jersey. Growing up in Newton and Andover Township, she attended public schools. She went to the University of Vermont, where she majored in English and joined the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She was inducted in Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. After graduating in 1971, she went to graduate school at Ohio State University, earning a M.A. in English in 1972 and Ph.D. in higher education administration in 1977. She attended law school at the Georgetown University Law Center, receiving a J.D. in 1982. Dr. Lee became a professor at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers in 1982.  In 1984, she joined the faculty in the Department of Industrial Relations and Human Resources at SMLR. Over the years, she has taught classes on employment law, labor law and higher education law. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Law of Higher Education, A Legal Guide for Student Affairs Professionals, and Academics in Court: The Consequences of Faculty Discrimination Litigation. As an administrator, Dr. Lee has served as department chair, associate dean, associate provost and dean, as well as director of the Center for Women and Work. In 2015, she became the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, a post she held until June 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, she worked with others in the Emergency Operations Center to manage the University's response and the shift to remote instruction.
  • Taylor Lorchak

    Description: Taylor Lorchak is a registered nurse, combat medic in the Army National Guard, and alumna of the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden. Born in Bristol, Pennsylvania in 1994, Lorchak grew up in Levittown, Philadelphia and Glassboro, New Jersey. Homeschooled during her youth, she trained as a musician and played the French horn at the Settlement Music School and in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. She attended The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and majored in performance. Influenced by her brother and sister-in-law, who are nurses, she decided that she wanted pursue an accelerated second degree nursing program and, while an undergraduate at TCNJ, started taking nursing prerequisites. After graduating with a B.A. from TCNJ in 2016, she enlisted in the Army National Guard. She went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood and advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, completing the 68W Combat Medic course. She served as a noncommissioned officer in the 250th Brigade Support Battalion, Charlie Company, and worked as an emergency medical technician in civilian life. In 2019, she began the fifteen-month-long accelerated nursing degree program at the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden. During her last semester in nursing school, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Lorchak experienced the shift to remote instruction as a student. At the same time, her National Guard unit was activated as a part of New Jersey's crisis response, and she deployed to the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home, where she served as a medic. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers-Camden in 2020 and soon after became a registered nurse. Currently, she serves in the National Guard in Pennsylvania and works as a nurse at WellSpan Health. The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2020-2021 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.