people know Dan Olivarez as the soft-spoken, mild-mannered user
support technician who helps those in need when their computers
are acting up.
Those same folks may be surprised to learn that not long after
graduating high school, he started his own punk rock band,
playing guitar and doing the vocals (screaming, as he describes
it). Not long afterward, he went to work as a roadie for a local
punk rock band, driving the van and setting up equipment.
Although his punk rock days are now long behind him, he still
likes to play the guitar while jamming with friends. It’s a
skill he taught himself.
Olivarez first stepped on the campus of the University of
Houston in 1996 when he decided to pursue a college degree. At
that time, he took a work-study job delivering the Daily Cougar
bright and early every morning.
A couple of years later, he started working for Technological
Support Services doing audio/video projects, including
videotaping classes for distance education. He did that for four
years, then went to work for the College of Liberal Arts and
Social Sciences as a User Services Specialist doing desktop
support. Along the way, he pursued a degree in history with a
minor in communications.
Three years ago, he took his current job in Administration &
Finance Business Services. A big part of his job is offering
desktop support for about 120 users within Parking and
Transportation, Printing and Postal, Auxiliary Services, the
Business Services office and Cullen Performance Hall.
“That means if their mouse doesn’t work or something is wrong
with their computer, they call me and I’ll go and fix it,” he
Besides providing user services support, he also serves as the
technology manager and the information security officer for A&F
Business Services. Under that role, he has to make sure everyone
is compliant with UH security procedures.
Olivarez graduated from high school in Santa Fe, N.M. He worked
different types of jobs early on in his life, including being a
baker’s assistant, working on a horse ranch cleaning stalls and
feeding and breeding horses. When he was 13 or 14, he and a
friend would set up outside a local grocery store and shine
shoes for $1.
Although he earned a degree in history, when he first came to UH
he had plans to get a theatre degree.
“I wanted to become a part-time actor and be involved in the
movie industry in some way,” he said.
Managing computer systems is a world away from the movies, but
in one sense, responding to service requests is not so
"A lot of people know how to fix computers," Olivarez said.
"What I like is when I can connect with people and make their
day a little nicer."