PSD Spotlight: Andres Silva

May 15, 2024

Andres Silva

Andres Silva, who grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side, is a Human Resources Coordinator for the Physical Sciences Division. Before joining UChicago, they were the freelance HR Coordinator for Big Ten Network in downtown Chicago. We interviewed Andres about their interests and experiences.

People can come to me for …

Anything! Currently, I am assisting the PSD by evaluating processes, improving communication, and developing a seamless onboarding experience for new hires. I also serve as the HR Partner for the Master’s Programs in Applied Data Science, Computer Science, and CMSC. Aside from that, whether it is an Excel spreadsheet that needs simplifying or any IT issues that arise, I am always open to helping others!

What do you enjoy about being a part of the PSD community?

After three months here, I can tell that everyone at the PSD is passionate about their work to improve the quality of life for other staff, faculty, and students. Everyone is willing to help one another without hesitation and truly appreciates one another’s time and input.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

So, my name is Andres, haha, and I grew up in a Mexican, Spanish-speaking household. Like many of my friends, I had to learn English in elementary school, which meant I also had to translate lengthy phone calls for my parents!

I also like to be curious about everything. I feel like I’ve never stopped learning, practicing, and teaching others about anything I encounter. Though many people know me as a tech-savvy person, I also know a great deal about auto mechanics, photo/video editing, carpentry, and music, to name a few.

With all this being said, I received my BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Social/Personality Psychology with a minor in Gender & Women’s Studies, so I also know a bit about humans and emotions as well!

Who inspires you?

This is a tricky question, as I can’t really pinpoint who inspires me. Honestly, I feel like anyone who shares a passion for always being curious about the world and willing to learn would be someone I’d consider inspirational. If that’s you, then you inspire me, haha!

What is the most interesting thing that you are working on right now?

I’m working with the MS-ADS, MPCS, and CMSC programs to develop a more consistent and efficient onboarding process for students and temporary workers. Right now, I am analyzing what worked with the implementations I’ve made this quarter and learning what could be changed to improve the process for the next quarter. Although I know this will be an ongoing process each quarter, I aim to share efficient and standardized processes that will work with each department in the PSD.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

Diversity and Inclusion mean a lot to me.

While at UIUC, I felt welcomed and invited by the faculty and my colleagues, and I gained the confidence to come out as transgender. However, I also learned firsthand about the issues marginalized communities and individuals face at the systemic level; I knew going into the real working world may not be as accommodating as academia. Therefore, I knew that my role as HR in the workplace held a lot of power as I would serve as a proxy to the company’s culture around Diversity and Inclusion; because of this, I knew I had a huge responsibility to uphold.

When I worked at Target, nametags with pronouns were starting to circulate, and I took time to educate the team members about pronouns and how they can mean a lot to gender-diverse people like me.  When I worked at BTN, I ensured that those whose voices are often overlooked could freely speak up and share their opinions. Now that I am at UChicago, I strive to continue my work in ensuring that everyone I interact with feels welcome and comfortable, regardless of their background or identity. I genuinely hope everyone I helped or will help feels welcomed and included.

Who had the most influence on you growing up?

My mother had the most influence on me. Growing up, I knew she took on a lot of responsibility. Even after working an early factory line shift, she still came home to ensure my dad, brother, and I had food to eat. On top of that, she kept the house exceptionally clean and even ironed my school uniform. The amount of work she did was something adolescent me would notice, and I would try to give her a helping hand from time to time. I knew I wanted to have the same patience and persistence as her.

What three words best describe you?

Inquisitive, Analytical, Determined.

If they made a movie about your life, what genre would it be, and who would play you?

Honestly, I’m not much of a movie fan, but a comedy movie would suit my life best. I love to make people laugh, so I hope that movie will lighten someone’s day. As for actors, I don’t know any movie comedians off the top of my head, but just about anyone can pull it off, as long as they’re funny, of course!

A Calico Domestic Long Hair named Peach Cobbler (right) and a Black Chantilly-Tiffany named Cocoa Beans

Do you have pets, and if so, what are their names?

Yes, I have two cats! A Calico Domestic Long Hair named Peach Cobbler and a Black Chantilly-Tiffany named Cocoa Beans.

What is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?

Taqueria Vallarta on S 59th St & California Ave. Best authentic Mexican food for a fantastic price! The restaurant is cash-only, so be prepared if you plan on stopping by!

What hobby do you spend the most time on?

I recently picked up golf again, but I honestly spend more time playing video games. I built my current gaming PC several years ago and have always kept it up to date with all the latest parts. I have a lovely friend group of around 15 people with whom I’ve either built their PCs or remotely optimized them for performance.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut. Staring into the clear starry sky with my telescope would never cease to amaze me, and I would always wish I could visit and see the other planets in our solar system up close.

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