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A member of the journalism department at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has sent inspiring messages to colleagues for years. But now, the kind gesture by Cindy Schultz is buoying even more campus friends.

Sharing quotes and uplifting notes on a daily basis, Schultz, academic department associate, helps others feel resilient during these uncertain times.

“These quotes are a pick-me-up for so many of us,” said Sara Steffes Hansen, chair and associate professor of journalism. “Cindy has a perspective on life that is committed to positivity and she looks for opportunities to help others feel positive. That is a tall order during these difficult times, but positivity, like enthusiasm, is contagious. Positive messages help us, especially when we can’t physically be around people and have to keep social distance.”

When coronavirus caused a mass shutdown of UW Oshkosh, Schultz sent an email announcement to all employees, offering to add them to her list of email recipients. It was among the earliest offers of support to the UWO community.

“I have always been a lover of quotes to get you through tough times,” Schultz said. “I subscribe to many positive, uplifting websites where I get quotes that I share.”

Schultz thinks the more people support each other and stay positive, the better this challenging time will turn out.

In this together

The journalism department has a Canvas site that provides words of support for students and faculty and offers of video-conference meetings, messaging and other resources.

“We are still the smiling faces you would see on the third floor of Sage Hall,” it reads. “But now we are working from home as we serve our 230 majors and minors in the Department of Journalism.”

Viewers on the site can scroll through a series of messages from faculty and students.

Professor Vince Filak said for him, the “trick” for staying positive, is to keep busy in a variety of areas. He’s refinishing furniture, has restored a pinball machine and is sorting baseball and football cards. He said he’s done a ton of work setting classes up.

“If you think about what you can’t do, it gets edgy,” he said. “If you, instead, think about what you can do, it’s like getting a whole new life.”

Indeed, many people have more time for pets, more time to cook family meals and the opportunity to organize their lives.

Culture of support

Colleagues say Schultz occasionally shares uplifting videos. She also has  been known to share “You Matter” cards and perform random acts of kindness to anyone who needs it.

“It is amazing how I will send out quotes for weeks on end, wondering if they are touching anyone or not,” Schultz said. “Then, out of the blue, I will get an email from someone where a specific quote has spoken to them. When I get those notes from others, I know that this is an important service to provide to our colleagues.”

Schultz had been emailing around 75 people with campus emails, but another 50 people expressed interest over the past couple of weeks.

Keep calm, carry on

Schultz believes people can take measures to keep calm. Even though many people are sequestered to their homes, she says there needs to be a schedule and some semblance of life as it was before COVID-19 derailed routines.

“Exercise is a great stress reliever,” Schultz said. “Be grateful that we are alive, have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies―we are very rich. When a person lives an attitude of gratitude instead of finding things to throw a pity party over, you start realizing how much of a gift you have each and every day.”

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