“I want to be a Beaver” Dr. Jesus Jaime-Diaz Delivers Keynote Address During Unity Celebration

“I want to be a Beaver,” Jesus Jaime-Diaz told Javier Cervantes when they first met at a community college career fair in the early 2000s. At that time Cervantes, who is the current LBCC Director of Institutional Equity & Student Engagement, was working in outreach for OSU.

Jaime-Diaz was a student at Blue Mountain Community College in Hermiston, Oregon.  Cervantes and Diaz met again at the following year’s Blue Mountain career event, and Diaz said the same thing, “I want to be a Beaver.”

Cervantes gave the introduction for Dr. Jaime-Diaz, who was this year’s keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Unity Celebration of diversity on LBCC’s campus Thursday, April 25 in the Fireside Room.

In Jaime-Diaz’s keynote speech we found out why he used that particular phrase with Cervantes.

Jaime-Diaz is the oldest child in a big family. He had a hard time growing up. He endured abuse at school, such as having a stick put in his mouth by a teacher to make him talk differently, and being called a wetback by other students.

Alienated from school, Jaime-Diaz told his Mom he’d rather work in the fields, and he did, working long hours at blue-collar jobs seven days a week.

At Thursday night’s Unity celebration, he recalled being struck by seeing his little brother studying, and wanting to be a good example for him, decided to get his G.E.D. But it was a struggle, and then the worst thing in the world that could happen, happened. His little brother died from smoke inhalation in a fire when his family home burned up.

Jaime-Diaz said he wished the lights could just go out right then. Life was too awful to face.

At his brother’s grave, all he could think was, “I am going to be a beaver for you.” At that time, he did not know what it would entail. It ended up meaning that he would go on to earn a Bachelor’s at OSU, that he would go on to finish his Masters at OSU, that he would go on to earn a doctorate in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona.

But that is why Jaime Diaz, as a student, not even entirely sure what the phrase meant, but already on the path that would ultimately lead to his PhD, said to Javier Cervantes, “I want to be a Beaver.”