Grad student leader leaves oil field for higher education

Audrey Tobola, Reporter

Alex Chapa-Kunz
Jason Baldwin, ASI director of graduate students.

Associated Students Inc. has a new director of graduate students, Jason Baldwin. Although it’s only been three weeks, you might have met Baldwin or heard about him before because of his involvement in CSU Bakersfield student life. He was also secretary for Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, Director of Transfer Students for CSUB ASI, and Student Ambassador for CSUB Outreach Department.

  Decades before coming to CSUB, Baldwin worked in the oil fields while raising his three children. He was always on call, never knowing where he would work or for how many days, and often times doing twelve hour shifts. The petroleum industry in Kern County began slowing down, and on the last day of 2015, the company he was working for dismissed him.

  “I didn’t want to face that again,” Baldwin said. He was single and his three children were adults, so he could finally do what he really wanted to. On January 19, 2016, Baldwin enrolled at Taft College as a business major.

  He transferred to CSUB in the fall of 2016 as a liberal studies major, but changed it a number of times before getting his bachelor’s in 2019 and starting his master’s degree in English, focusing on composition, few weeks ago. After all those years, Baldwin still perfectly remembers his first day at CSUB. He was terrified.

  “I thought the campus was so big and thought there was so many students. And I was in a different age group. So I think it

was intimidating,” he said.

  According to Baldwin, enrolling at CSUB was almost a new life. When he came to CSUB four years ago, he didn’t think he would be so involved in CSUB life. During his first semester, he was focused on getting his classes, finishing his degree and eventually, teaching. Studying literature, language and composition inspired him. According to Baldwin, it enlightened him to human nature. It encouraged him to stick his neck out, to get involved and discover new things.

  “I thought it was a really great opportunity to work for Outreach, to work for the high school. Just working with so many people with the common goal of education,” Baldwin said.

  Even though he knew he wanted to be a part of ASI government, applying was not easy.

  “I think there is a lot of really smart people here, and to put my application and throw it in that pot with these people I admire greatly, I have tremendous respect for, that was intimidating,” said Baldwin.

  Baldwin became the new director of Transfer Students from Sept. 2018 to May of 2019.

  Over the summer of 2019, once he had been accepted to CSUB for the master’s program, he saw Aaron Wan, ASI president, in the Student Union. Wan asked him if he would be interested in applying for the open position. He applied and had an interview. According to Baldwin, he was so nervous, although no one else applied. He wanted so badly to represent these students. And, eventually, he got the position.

  ASI’s executive vice-president Roxane Esparza was at Baldwin’s interview when he applied for the Director of Graduate Students position. According to her, Baldwin not only showed all the qualifications for the position, but also dedication and passion.

  Wan was sure that Baldwin would be a great candidate for this position, which is why he suggested Baldwin apply for the job. Wan describes Baldwin as passionate, hard-working and helpful, just like Esparza. According to Wan, if Baldwin is given a specific task, he will get the job done. And it seems Baldwin takes his new position really seriously.

  “He’s already helping all the graduate students, he has been contacting a lot of people, he sits on multiple committees, meetings, with a bunch of the administration, the staff, as well as the students. So I think he’s definitely going to do great in this position. I have no doubt,” Wan said.

  Indeed, Baldwin already knows what he wants to do for graduate students as the new director.

  “Students are pursuing their second level degree, but they want to go into specific jobs because of that degree, and so I would like to be able to find pathways and network within the community so we can hopefully do job fairs and find employers looking for master’s level and doctoral students. Make it easier for them to find a job,” he said.

  Baldwin is well aware of the difficulties students face when they graduate and leave college. That’s why he wants to find a way to help graduate students.

  “Just because you’re following your passion, that doesn’t mean there is position in the real world waiting for you. So I want

to try to find those positions in the real work for the students we have. They are working so hard, chasing their dreams,” Baldwin said.

  Baldwin will graduate the master’s program in two years and aims to pursue a doctoral degree. He aspires to teach at CSUB, the place where he found his way of life, and where he was able to develop himself.

  “I’m really happy. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy in my life,” Baldwin said.