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Home | Episode #2
Crisis of Confidence
September 12, 2018 | Student Producer:

Nia Brooks
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Crisis of Confidence
As a 22-year old single mother of two, Dr. Evelyn Diaz Cruz looks for work without a college education. (6 minutes)
Dr. Evelyn Diaz Cruz

EvelynDiaz-Cruz: 00:02 Jimmy Carter is the reason I am a professor today, no doubt about it. 

Jimmy Carter: 00:02 I promised you a President who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain and who shares your dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you. 

EvelynDiaz-Cruz: 00:20 My brother, he was in the Navy and he settled in San Diego, so the family moved to San Diego. It's kind of where my story begins. The concept of, of actually having children who go out and play by themselves, right, was huge to us. I mean I don't even think we had even hung out upstate New York. We were real Bronx, generations in, so our way of being was completely different here, so this was a real alien place for us. And so the whole idea of coming to California, it was very, very hard to resist. 

EvelynDiaz-Cruz: 01:07 Coming to California, I am a senior in high school and I did graduate, but I got married right out of high school. I had two children by the time I was 20 and I was a single parent by the time I was 21. I had to get to work. I saw this thing somehow on the news or something about Jimmy Carter having an incentive program where welfare mothers will be able to get paid minimum wage to get a job. Then they would place you in a worksite for six months and if they liked you, they could offer you a permanent position. Right? And so I asked my social worker about it. I started training a secretarial training for three months and I was, and I worked. 

EvelynDiaz-Cruz: 02:01 From there, I got placed at San Diego State University and I had never even been on a university campus before. I remember walking on the campus. See, I'm flooded with memories because I was thinking about my children. I was thinking about the future. And I remember going to HR for the interview. My interview was a Black woman and she said, "Okay, um, I have two sites that, at San Diego State, that want to hire you and one is Chicano Studies and one is History, the History Department." So, um, I went to both interviews. You have to understand my world was this small and Chicanos and Puerto Ricans are two different, completely different cultures. And she said, "Oh, Evelyn, you know, um, Chicano Studies made their decision already and they want you." And you know, I would say no because I had such a bad, ah, image of radicalism and, um, progressive thought, um, and Chicanos, frankly, you know? I just felt way different. I remember saying I didn't want to go to Chicano Studies. I said, "Well, I'll wait to hear what History says," you know, and, uh. She has a lot of consciousness, right? So she said, "Well, why?" And I said, "Oh, I don't know, I just think I'd be a better, I think I would enjoy the History Department." Of course, you know, Chicano Studies, African American Studies, Women Studies, they all sounded so radical to me that I was like, I don't want to work there, you know? I just want to be left alone. I want to make my little paycheck. I don't want to be reminded about the world's, you know, uh, problems, right? I got enough of my own, right? So why make trouble? I just want to get a job. And she knew, she just knew what I was struggling with. And um, she said, "Well Evelyn, you know, I just want to advise you to take it for a lot of reasons, but they really do want you and I think it'd be good for you to go there." So I said, "Okay," you know, cause there was something in the way she said it that made me say, okay. 

Jimmy Carter: 04:53 Competence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own. 

EvelynDiaz-Cruz: 04:55 So anyway, I worked there for a long time and I was able to get my Bachelor's while I was a single mom. Um, the whole world opened up to me there, quite literally.