Employee Spotlight: Dan Olivarez
 
Most 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 said.

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 different.

"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."