Eduardo Castañeda-Díaz was born in California’s Central Valley to two immigrant, farm-working parents from Jalisco, Mexico. When Eduardo was three-months-old, his family moved to Quincy, Washington in search of work opportunities in the agricultural industry. They worked tirelessly in the potato-packing warehouses and apple nurseries of Quincy to make ends meet. They have continued on to work for 28 years at J.R. Simplot Co. (now Quincy Foods). Truly, Eduardo’s family story is one of the American Dream.
From an early age, Eduardo understood the importance of education, work ethic, and commitment. Throughout his life, Eduardo has worked in Central Washington’s apple and cherry orchards, blueberry fields, and corn, lima bean, carrot and potato processing plants.
EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION
A 2011 graduate of Quincy High School, Eduardo promised his parents that he would be the first person in his family to attend and graduate from a university. After completing the College in High School Program through Central Washington University, and attending Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Eduardo went on to study at Washington State University in Pullman.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and Cultures with a minor in Criminal Justice. Eduardo is proudly a recipient of the Paul Lauzier Scholarship, awarded to alumni of Grant County high schools for “scholastic achievement, community and school involvement, integrity, work ethic and leadership.”
Eduardo is completing his Master of Arts degree in Ethnic Studies, with a concentration in Public Policy at San Jose State University, where his thesis research is centered on schoolchildren homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2019, Eduardo entered law school in pursuit of his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Idaho College of Law. After attending law school for one year, Eduardo has decided to pause his legal studies to make an immediate impact on his community.
Eduardo was an active participant of student life at WSU, leading efforts as President and Director of Community Service for his fraternity. Eduardo was an active board member of the WSU Chicanx/Latinx Student Alliance, an umbrella organization for all Latinx organizations on campus, where he contributed to planning university-wide educational, cultural, and social events.
A passionate advocate of education, Eduardo served three years as a volunteer in WSU’s storied C.A.S.H.E. Conference. C.A.S.H.E. invites low-income, first-generation high school students from across Central Washington to experience college life at Washington State University. Eduardo also served as a GED tutor for the High School Equivalency Program (HEP), a program in the U.S. Department of Education. HEP assists migrant and seasonal farmworkers and members of their immediate family to obtain a GED.
A LIFE OF PUBLIC SERVICE
At Washington State University, Eduardo advocated for the protection of students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protection Status (TPS). Through organized marches, newspaper articles, and speeches to the student government leaders and university Presidents, Eduardo supported WSU’s undocumented students in their pursuit of their academic aspirations.
While at WSU, Eduardo was awarded a scholarship to serve as a medical interpreter as part of a humanitarian aid mission in Colombia through International Service Learning. He interpreted between the English-speaking medical professionals and the Spanish-speaking people of the Andean region of South America.
Inspired by a political science course at Washington State University, Eduardo proudly took a year off from college to enlist in the United States Army in April 2015. Eduardo has served with the Washington, California, and Idaho Army National Guards as both a Culinary Specialist and as a Combat Engineer. Recently, Eduardo served on emergency missions with the National Guard, earning the California Service Award for supporting evacuation and search-and-rescue efforts in the Mendocino-Complex and Camp wildfires of Northern California.
Eduardo has served as a homeless shelter guard with the National Guard and volunteered numerous hours at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital as a patient escort—serving veterans from World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Cold, Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars in navigating the healthcare facilities.
While in graduate school, Eduardo worked with non-profit organizations such as the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and the Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN). Eduardo also worked as a translator to help process cases for Central American women seeking asylum into the U.S. on the grounds of domestic violence as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Throughout his life, Eduardo has proudly volunteered as a naturalization workshop interpreter, and assisted Spanish-speaking permanent residents in obtaining U.S. citizenship.
During his two-year stint in the San Francisco Bay Area, Eduardo worked as a graduate teaching assistant and as an immigration paralegal—assisting undocumented immigrant children in obtaining protected status in the United States. These immigrant minors were escaping gang violence, gender identity, and sexual orientation persecution in Latin America. Eduardo then proudly served as a health policy and planning intern at the San Mateo County Health System, where he partnered with a team of urban planners and public health professionals to research the root causes of racial health inequities by place. Eduardo’s findings were used to inform policy and systems change strategies to reduce these racial health disparities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This summer, Eduardo will be serving with the Northwest Justice Project as a Laurel Rubin Farmworker Justice Project Fellow to provide civil legal aid to Central Washington farmworkers in Yakima County on issues such as wage theft, sexual harassment, visas, and COVID-19 response.
Eduardo hopes to continue serving his community as Washington House Representative.
Eduardo is inspired to do good because of the good people that surround him. When he was a child, he often traveled to California’s Central Valley during the summers to visit his father’s family. He witnessed his extended family members housed into a dusty, wooden warehouse as they worked the almond and peach orchards during the scorching summers. It was these exact interactions that opened Eduardo’s eyes to the world’s social and economic disparities at an early age.
Eduardo was raised in an immigrant, working-class family. Eduardo’s parents have worked double shifts to make ends meet for the family. Eduardo vividly remembers one night in particular when his mother fell asleep at the wheel on her way to a graveyard shift, due to the immense sleep deprivation caused by her relentless work schedule. These experiences have inspired Eduardo to fight for all working families in Washington.
After graduating from high school, many of Eduardo’s friends did not end up going to college simply because they lacked a social security number. While his friends were highly capable and intelligent, they would not reach their full academic potential due to lack of financial support and lack of legal immigrant status. Eduardo’s philosophy is that our next unsupported scholar could have been the one that could have found the cure to cancer. Eduardo is inspired to fight for all of Washington’s young people regardless of their immigration status.
At Washington State University, Eduardo experienced homelessness due to emergency medical expenses involving an injury. At the time, Eduardo was uninsured and was forced to choose between paying his medical debts or having a place to sleep. Eduardo is inspired to ensure that our young scholars never have to make that choice by supporting housing and medical care for all.
As a volunteer at the VA hospital, Eduardo interacted with military veterans of all backgrounds. In these interactions, he witnessed as veterans were denied medical care due to the inhumane bureaucracy posed by governmental agencies. Eduardo is inspired to ensure care for all our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation and to live up to the motto of “to care for them who shall have borne the battle and for their widow, and their orphan.”
United States National Defense Medal
United States Army Service Ribbon
California Emergency Service Ribbon
Laurel Rubin Farmworker Justice Fellowship
California State University Graduate Equity Fellowship
Washington State University President’s Honor Roll (4X)
Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar
Paul Lauzier Memorial Scholarship
Tony Mora Memorial Scholarship
Lt. José Santiago Memorial Scholarship
Executive Edge of Silicon Valley Scholarship
Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson Scholarship
Silicon Valley Brokers Ass’n Veteran Scholarship
International Service Learning Scholarship
Quincy High School with Honors
“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” — Dolores Huerta
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — César E. Chávez
Eduardo with Dolores Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with César Chávez, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.
“Castañeda is not undocumented or an immigrant. But after seeing the fliers, he decided to send a letter to the university’s President, Kirk H. Schulz, demanding a response and a thorough investigation on behalf of the more than 200 undocumented students at the school. After the series of events, Castañeda and other students pressed for school administrators to discuss a proposal that would make WSU a sanctuary of “unjust deportations and intimidation” by immigration officials (Univision, 2017).”
“Last Wednesday, the Crimson Group, an activist support group for undocumented students and allies at WSU, established a GoFundMe page to support application renewals for those at WSU and UI with DACA status. By Friday, the campaign had raised $3,531 from 41 people, including a $1,986 donation listed on behalf of WSU’s Sigma Lambda Beta chapter, a historically Latino fraternity (Spokesman-Review, 2017).” “Washington State University alumnus, and chapter brother, Eduardo Castañeda donates $1,986 to help fund the DACA renewals of four undocumented students at WSU. The donation was made on the behalf of the Omicron Delta Chapter at Washington State.”
“Eduardo Castañeda, Quincy resident and a 2011 Quincy High School graduate, woke up Monday morning wanting to do something to help the victims of the wildfires in Chelan and Okanogan County. Castañeda collected at least 18 cases of water as well as canned goods, non-perishable items, bread, cereal, toiletries and diapers. Akins Harvest Foods also agreed to add to his donation, which Castañeda drove up to Lake Chelan High School where some of the fire victims are temporarily being sheltered (Quincy Valley Post Register, 2014).”
“First-generation student and current Washington National Guardsman Eduardo Castañeda-Díaz earned his Bachelor’s in Foreign Languages and Cultures. “I originally wanted to be a music teacher, but decided I was passionate about helping my Latino community,” Díaz said. “I hope to be an advocate for the immigration community as an attorney. I ask for safety and prosperity to all our Cougs regardless of their immigration status (WSU Daily Evergreen, 2017).”
“Students, tribal leaders and activists gathered on Monday on the Todd Steps to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), using signs, speeches and chants. Since the Standing Rock Sioux Native American tribe began protesting in August, people from around the world have joined. The proposed 1,100-mile-long pipeline would run through Native American burial grounds and across the Missouri River (WSU Daily Evergreen, 2016).”
Eduardo understands that every child deserves a shot at their dreams. When Eduardo was presented with an opportunity to join a humanitarian aid mission to Colombia, Eduardo used this opportunity to collect sports equipment from his friends and family in the United States to spread the joy of fútbol with the children of South America.
PAID FOR BY CASTANEDA FOR CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Disclaimer: Specialist Eduardo Castañeda is a member of the Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense