Oscar Sevilla, MEd, joined the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this made connecting with applicants more complicated, Oscar uses his excellent communication skills and willingness to help in order to provide the best possible onboarding process to first-year students at the Graduate School.
What is your current title, and what do you do on the day-to-day?
I am the program manager of admissions, which means I am the first point of contact for those who are interested in the GSBS graduate program. I provide information about the programs and facilitate the application process for applicants. I am also the person who works with candidates once they are selected for an interview. I help coordinate the visitation weekends that occur in the spring, and once an offer is accepted, I work with the students to onboard them and have them ready to begin in the fall.
What are you focused on most at this point in time?
Working in admissions is great because we tend to work on a cycle, so we always know what is next and what to expect each year. Currently, we are finishing up with orientation and immediately beginning the planning stages for the fall 2023 admissions cycle, which includes prepping the application form, processing applications and planning for visitation weekends among many other things.
What most excites you about working with GSBS?
I love being a part of the GSBS community! Everyone here does their part to make you feel comfortable and engaged in all projects and events that we host.
Please give a brief history of your professional background. How long have you been with the GSBS?
I have been in higher education for ten years. Of those years, eight have been in graduate admissions. Prior to the GSBS, I was the admissions coordinator for a law school. My higher education experience is mostly in the admissions and recruitment divisions. I have been with the GSBS for a little over a year and a half and I am excited to continue to expand the Graduate School and encourage great quality applicants to pursue their passions with us.
Do you have a fun hobby you enjoy doing outside of work?
I like to run and travel. Among my favorite places to visit are the Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) of Mexico. These are a series of small towns in Mexico that are recognized as “magical” by the Mexican government to promote the cultural richness, folklore, cuisine and hospitality. I have visited five so far and although I may not be able to visit all 132, my goal is to visit as many as I can in my lifetime. I also love Disney and a Disneyworld trip is always in my annual travel plans.
What skills in your skillset do you find most valuable in your work?
Communication is by far the most valuable skill in my line of work. Communicating obstacles and necessities helps provide an effective workplace which in turn helps us provide the best quality service to our students.
Do you have a favorite memory at the GSBS so far?
So far, my favorite memory will have to be Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD). I was hired in the middle of the pandemic, so this year’s GSRD was one of the first opportunities in which I was able to engage and unite with students in a large capacity. Getting to interact with the GSBS community is a great reminder for why we work so hard—the students are so bright and their passion for science and solving biomedical issues that have plagued our society is inspiring.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to students starting at the GSBS, what would it be?
I would tell incoming GSBS students to always ask questions; the staff at the Graduate School is always willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask what certain words mean or how to do things you aren’t yet familiar with. I would also advise students to find a work-life balance early on and stick to it. Graduate school can be a bit overwhelming, but it gets better if you remain organized and have that balance mapped out. And most importantly, I would advise everyone to pay attention to their mental health and take advantage of all the resources provided to them.