Encouraging, supporting and empowering underrepresented students

Jamar Bean

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work, and to help build community by learning more about our coworkers. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length.

Jamar Bean
Program Advisor, Multicultural Center

How long have you worked at the UO?

I have worked at the University of Oregon for almost two years.

Tell us about your work:

I help manage the Multicultural Center and lead efforts to oversee over 26 different student unions on campus, most of which are identity or culturally based. At the MCC, we also host a multitude of different workshops, activities and cultural celebrations over the course of the year. I am a part of the Division of Equity and Inclusion, and the Community and Campus Engagement Team, so as the MCC program advisor, I do some work with them as well.

I also supervise the MCC student staff to put them in positions that best support our center and the student unions. I am here to support students in any way they need me, whether that looks like networking, sharing opportunities or just general advice about life.

What does your typical day look like?

I got hired about two weeks before COVID, so that transition was difficult. It was challenging to navigate through the pandemic while balancing support for students and the student unions. Coming back to campus has been another interesting transition because it almost feels like I’m starting over again with my position. I’m taking some of the momentum we got from last year though, especially the programs we were able to engage in with students. Social media was the main way we connected with students last year.

Most of my days are split between meetings and being in the MCC as a physical presence for the students and staff I support. I like to think that I have a gift for being able to connect with students on different levels. I enjoy hearing about how their days are going, what they need and how to engage with them meaningfully. I just want to make sure that if somebody just needs to talk or vent about something, they have someone who will listen to them.

What do you like about working at the UO?

The UO can provide some extraordinary experiences and opportunities. We’ve had unique guest speakers and events, especially around the topic of diversity. I serve students from underrepresented communities and these students are passionate, engaged and very aware of the social issues that are happening in the world right now. They understand things that happen in the community can impact their experiences on campus. I think it’s noble and honorable that students want to impact the world around them in a positive way.

What keeps you motivated?

What keeps me motivated is knowing that I’ve made a difference in a student’s life, whether that be academically or personally. Knowing that I can positively impact students and help them in a time of need keeps me going and gives me purpose. My job allows me to support students by making their day better or guiding them through something they’ve been struggling with. That gives me the energy to keep pushing through the tough times. I want students to be successful and I want them to know that there are folks on campus that are here to facilitate their success, but more importantly, that care.

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?

My kids inspire me, motivate me and keep me humble. They remind me that the things I may be overthinking or upset about aren’t that serious. Everything I do for my job is rewarding and I really enjoy working with my students, but my kids give me life. I try to take their spirit with me every day and implement the things I learn from them into my life. Kids teach you how to disseminate information in a way that may not be orthodox and show you how to be adaptable in tough situations. The little lessons I’ve learned as a father have given me more perspective in my job and daily life.

Jamar Bean is part of the Division of Equity and Inclusion

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