Bardo’s story from freshman year

What was your first day like as a freshman in college?

I went to the University of Cincinnati and I got 100 percent lost my first day. I went to the university that night and found all of my classrooms because I did not have a clue where any of my buildings were. I had gone to orientation but I was not orientated. 

What was your major?

I thought I was going to be a dentist so I went to pre-dental advising. I found out some of the courses I had to take involved sculpting and I knew that wasn’t going anywhere good so I decided to be an economics major. 

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities?

I was in ROTC. It was big on that campus at that time and I also worked. I was on the drill team in ROTC but I was not involved in any formal clubs. 

Where did you work while in college?

I sold women’s shoes, I boxed the mail, I delivered the mail, I worked at a hospital pharmacy, I mowed lawns, and I delivered drugs for a local pharmacy

What car did you drive? 

I had a 1962 Volkswagen convertible. It was hot; red with black vinyl. It was cool.  I think it cost me $600 dollars and it had no air conditioning, of course, and some of the windows sort of worked. 

What did you like to do in your free time? 

I was a big sports fan. Basketball was a really big deal there and our arch rivals were Bradley and Wichita State. 

The university would bring in rock n’ roll groups so I went to concerts.  I had a lot of friends who lived near the university and so as I got older I would go hang out at friend’s apartments. As a commuter student, hanging out at your parent’s house wasn’t that cool.

How would you describe yourself as a college freshman? 

It’s funny how these things work. I was a really bad student. My first term grades were a 1.3. I was one step ahead of the draft board. I really hated college and I didn’t want to be there but it was better than being in a foxhole.  

What is the worst advice someone has given you?

 You should major in this because you can always get a job. 

What experiences in college best prepared you for what you are doing now? 

In terms of jobs, it was working at the hospital. You got to see humanity in a very different way. When you go into an emergency room at a welfare hospital on a Saturday morning you see people who have been knifed, people who have been shot; you see people who are too poor to go anywhere else and it really colors how you view the world. 

It raises to me the question ‘How do we create a situation where people have opportunities?’ I also had a long line of professors that helped me figure out what I was going to do. 

How did your goals shift as you were in college? 

I had no goals as a freshman. My goal as a freshman was not to go to Vietnam at that time. By the time I was a junior it changed dramatically. It was ‘Can I be part of a situation that creates opportunities for people?’ 

Did you envision yourself as a president of a college? 

I think about the people that I had in my high school. If most of the people in my class were still alive, they would be laughing their heads off because (they would ask ) ‘This crazy guy went and did that?  You have to be kidding me.’ 

During my junior year, my parents were distraught that I had not figured out what I was going to do with my life. 

One thing I liked to do was travel and my so my dad came home one day and told me ‘why you don’t go to Europe and study for a year?’ 

In order to study abroad I had to get my grades up. England changed how I viewed the world and my last term grades were a 4.0.

If you could give advice to John Bardo as a freshman, what would you tell him? 

Go to class. It is easier to pass a test when you know when they are giving one. 

Any final thoughts? 

Enjoy your time at the university. It is a very, very special time of life.