Inside the offices of the Center for Sciences building are various doors decorated with plants and animals. However, one door belonging to a certain faculty member, is special.
On that door hangs a plaque that reads: Professor Jaime B. Beavers.
Beavers isn’t just her last name, she’s also extremely fond of the animal. Her door is covered with all things beaver -related.
“It’s a great last name,” Beavers said. “I like it most because beavers are really eager, they’re hard workers, all things students should be.”
Five years ago, Professor Beavers was known as Professor Beavers, but as a prenatal genetic counselor. As a genetic counselor she would assess genetic risks for reproductive or personal health and provide information of all the possible options.
“Many individuals find that information useful for planning a delivery appropriately or to make special arrangements for children that may have special needs,” Beavers said. “Of course, there’s always individuals who use the option for pregnancy termination.”
Originally, Beavers had not planned on being a genetic counselor. When studying for her bachelors degree in psychobiology at UCLA, she was approached by one of her professors, head of the DNA laboratory, Wayne Grody with a proposition to shadow a genetic counselor. She accepted and applied to the program after that.
“I think he decided that because he thought I was a better people person than lab person. He said, ‘I think you enjoy talking and interacting with people more than you enjoy research work.’ He was right,” Beavers said.
When asked about hobbies in relation to genetics, Beavers jokingly replied that she had six boys, four her own and two as a result of her marriage.
In 2000, after having just barely graduated from UCLA and three weeks before going into graduate school at CSUN for a master’s in genetic counseling, Beavers married. Her family of four sons, and her husband’s family of two sons, united.
They “were drowning in children” so they mutually decided to not have another.
The marriage transition was easy for the boys, in fact, they hoped for that outcome.
“Our oldest boys were friends since kindergarten and they wanted us to meet. Two of mine were best friends with his two,” Beavers said. “It’s very sweet. It doesn’t usually go well like that when your children want you to know each other and marry.”
Beavers did not receive genetic counseling while pregnant with her four sons. She had her boys before she had studied genetics and knew the field in depth.
“I would now, though, without question because knowledge is a useful thing to make decisions, whatever decision it is you want to make,” Beavers said.
From 2002 to -2009 she was a fulltime genetic counselor at Genzyme Genetics (now Integrated Genetics). She started teaching at Pierce College in 2006 as a part-time adjunct and became a full-time professor in 2009.
Larry Thouin, chair of the Life and Sciences Department, said his first impression of Beavers was that she was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and full of energy.
“She has been a great asset to Pierce College,” Thouin said. Biology 110, though a long-existing course in other colleges, is only a recent course at Pierce College due to a lack of genetic specialists to teach it.
“She developed it and we chose that course from the list of curriculum courses that were available and she made it possible,” Thouin said.
“She’s one of our departments hardest workers. She’s very organized, very diligent, and good to work with and has great ideas.”
Professor Beavers also teaches Biology 3, (Introduction to Biology) and Biology 6 (Major’s Biology.)
“She’s very interested in the major,” said Beaver’s Biology 6 student, Arturo Quinones.
“She tends to go off in a ramble sometimes and it makes you think,‘Oh, well, okay, at least it isn’t boring, and it’s not a waste of time, it’s informative rambling. She’s really engaging.”
Now a full-time professor at Pierce College, she only works as a genetic counselor on a contract basis with Integrated Genetics.
“I didn’t know I would love it so much,” Beavers said.
Despite being busy with teaching, she finds time to run five to seven miles at least three times per week.
She started running in junior high on the boy’s track team as schools were only just beginning to transition into having girl’s teams.
“This was in Michigan and they were just beginning to recognize the importance of funding sports for women, too,” Beavers said. “They didn’t let us compete with males, but they let us train with them.”
California-born Beavers, in her youth, constantly moved back and forth between California and Michigan due to her father’s work as an adman for Chevrolet.
“We were sometimes in Michigan where the cars were being made. We were sometimes in California where the commercials were made. We moved every three years,” Beavers said.
“When I turned 18 I stayed put [in California]. I said, ‘I am done with moving.’ It’s hard to have to keep establishing a life every three years.”
When she has free time away from work, she makes it her first priority to visit her sons, those who live in the state as well those who live outside the country. Beavers has found both teaching and counseling to be very rewarding.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Beavers said,” taking biology and seeing how it affects lives, to know biology and then see it play out.”