As David Jimenez prepares to draw an end to his five-year stint at Portland State University, the political science major from Kentucky is now facing a future without student life.
Having participated in various capacities on the KPSU staff, Popular Music Board (PMB) and student senate throughout the duration of his time on campus, Jimenez is no stranger to student activities.
Whether he was serving as station manager of the student radio station, working on a senate committee or providing technical support to one of the many bands performing on campus, his university experience was greatly impacted by his participation within the PSU community, Jimenez explained.
“As much as I sometimes wanted to pull my hair out, those were the best experiences I had at PSU, working around so many good, real people,” he said. “All of my friendships and meaningful personal experiences are from student organizations. I thrived on student participation.”
Having come to the Pacific Northwest after a history of traveling (he’s visited all 50 states), the self-declared “nontraditional student” moved to Portland in order to be with his life partner. Following a year of working around town, Jimenez said he was finally ready to return to his education.
After starting his radio career as a DJ at KPSU in the fall of 1998, Jimenez was hired onto the permanent staff a few months later. He has been there ever since, and during the five years he has worked for the station has held the position of assistant station manager, production director, and has served as station manager for the last two and a half years.
During his time there he has watched KPSU evolve, with the implementation of Web casting, on-campus FM, expanded broadcast hours, an increase in participants, as well as numerous technical upgrades.
Working with staff and volunteers, Jimenez helped KPSU grow into the entity it is today.
“KPSU is a great big family,” he said. “Everything relied on the skills and talent of the staff and volunteers, and none of it would have been accomplished without the others around. I just tried to provide an environment where they could thrive and achieve within the station.”
In addition to the number of structural and technical changes he has helped to make, including helping to create a new interview booth for the station, Jimenez has also focused on making KPSU a more prominent figure in the PSU community, he explained.
“Some of the more intangible work I’ve done is trying to make KPSU a greater presence on campus,” he said. “I’ve worked with staff and administrators, gotten to know people, what they’re responsible for, and worked with them. I respected administration, hoping to get that respect back.”
The efforts of Jimenez and others at KPSU have paid off, though with expansions come added responsibility. As station manager, he had to face the challenge of managing a constantly on-air station.
“We broadcast daily, 365 days a year,” he said. “It’s a pain in the ass, since the building closes on holidays.”
In the future, Jimenez simply hopes KPSU will continue along the path it is already headed, remaining true to the station’s format and attitude.
“It’s just about growth and to keep moving forward with the mission,” he said. “The station needs to maintain the core values, serving students, remaining free format and non-commercial, and providing an opportunity for people to express their opinions, viewpoints and musical tastes.”
In addition to his work with the radio station, Jimenez has also enjoyed working with the PMB during his university experience, as well.
Though he also served as a production coordinator, he explained that while working as a sound tech he was able to attend a multitude of various events, and, consequently, had to overcome a multitude of various complications.
“It was both challenging and rewarding,” he said. “You learn a lot as a sound engineer. You have to deal with thinking on your feet, decision making, problem solving. I met lots of musicians and DJs. It was cool, but it didn’t really matter. I was just there to do a service for them as best as possible.”
A student senator for three years as well, Jimenez explained that he helped to create change on the PSU campus primarily through committee work and has worked on many projects including the renaming of the Smith Memorial Center to the Smith Memorial Student Union.
“It was a small step in the direction of making it more student focused,” he said.
Though he will soon be moving to New York with his significant other, Jimenez is sad to go, and will miss the openness of the PSU campus community.
“That’s what’s cool about PSU,” he said. “It’s still a distinct, young university, and it hasn’t had time to build walls and make as many separations as other universities. Students can have casual contact with the dean of students and meet the president. They have access to the people who are creating policies and driving the university.”
Though he explained his future might still lie in political science, his experiences working with students on campus has inspired him to consider pursuing a Ph.D. in student affairs.
“I like working within a university, and within an environment that is supposed to be creating opportunities for students to find themselves,” he said.
However, for now, the radio station is still enough.
“From students who listen, I’m constantly hearing, ‘I love the station,'” he said. “It’s about the music.”
As his graduation looms on the horizon, Jimenez is preparing to say goodbye to Portland and hello to the big apple, but he knows that he doesn’t have to leave PSU completely behind.
“I’ll miss it,” he said. “Yeah, I’m done, finished, burnt, but I’ll be in New York, online, checking out KPSU. This wasn’t a blip to me, it was a lot more, and I won’t lose my connection to PSU because of KPSU.”