Jove Rousseau: From cracking coconuts in Costa Rica to collaborating and solving problems at the UO

Woman with long brown hair & man with short blond hair above a green hill and blue ocean

Jove Rousseau

Operations and Executive Assistant

What area do you work in within the VPFA portfolio?
I work in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

What is your current position, and what are your job responsibilities? 
My current position is Operations and Executive Assistant. My duties include project, program, and operations management as well as executive and administrative support.

What has been your career path; how did you end up in your current position? A brochure shows palm trees on the beach with a young blond boy (Jove) and a parrot. Also: Rainbow Adventures Lodge information.
My career path began at the age of 12 when my parents gave me a machete to open green coconuts for the tourists on a remote jungle shoreline in Costa Rica, where I was raised. One of those tourists was from Eugene, Oregon and asked me if I wanted to go to high school in America. The rest is history.
 
My first job at the University of Oregon was as the Foreign National Specialist in 2015. I left for a year of teaching at the International School in Genoa, Italy, after which I accepted an EA position in the Office of the Provost. I recently accepted a job in the VPFA office, which connected my love of finance and policy as well as helping me see a whole new side of the university.
 
What obstacles have you overcome in your career? 
When I moved to America for high school, I lived with a host family (yes, the same people that I opened coconuts for in Costa Rica). Living away from my parents and siblings was challenging. Postal service was often delayed three months for a simple letter. Phone calls could be spotty, expensive, and only available in the nearest town (during the days of landlines). My family would travel 20 miles each way in the open ocean in a small dugout boat with only a little outboard motor to find a landline. Because of the tropical weather and time-zones, these calls with my parents were often fragmented. These experiences taught me to be resilient and self-sufficient, and they guide me to this day.
 
What is your work history and education that enabled you to attain your current position? 
After my adolescent jungle guide days in Costa Rica, I enrolled in Reed College working on research up on the hill at OHSU. After thirteen years as a manager and co-owner of an organic food manufacturing and distribution company (yes, it included coconuts), I moved into the public sector. This work experience allowed me to succeed in a variety of job environments at the University of Oregon.  
 
How has working at UO enabled your professional goals and interests? 
The community of professionals at the UO has provided me with robust opportunities, advice, career guidance, and professional support. It is so heartwarming and feels like colleagues, faculty, staff, and even students, genuinely have an interest in my aspirations. This atmosphere continues to inspire and motivate me to do the best I can every day. Thanks to the continued support and opportunities at the university, I am currently a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration program.  
 
What do you like about your current position? 
My colleagues are awesome. I am lucky to be on a team with really hardworking, dedicated, and kind individuals. I miss seeing them in the office (we are all working remotely because of Covid-19).
 
Please share some insight into what your job involves. 
Working remotely has brought all sorts of new challenges. Despite not being in the office, save for a few hours each week, I still like to think that I deliver a high level of executive support. I recently conducted exit interviews with students from the UOAdmin Internship Program. I enjoyed asking questions and hearing about the meaningful projects and opportunities they had throughout their department rotations. Listening to this positive feedback made me feel proud that I work in a collaborative and supportive environment.
 
What advice do you have for others; what secrets would you share for someone thinking of applying to the UO? 
Before your interview, or after, head to Marche Museum Café for a cappuccino or macchiato.
 
Share a little about yourself personally: 
  • Family: Most of my family still lives in Costa Rica, and I enjoy being the best uncle I can be to my niece and nephew. I hope to see them both enrolled at the University of Oregon in the next few years. Between my wife and I, we have family and friends in Italy and Costa Rica that we hope to be able to see once the world opens back up.
  • Favorite food: Anything that my mother cooks is my favorite food! That being said, there are so many dishes from Costa Rica I can never get enough of like gallo pinto con maduro (breakfast beans and rice with ripe plantains) or patacones con aguacate (smashed and fried plantains with guacamole).
  • Best movie you’ve seen: Il Postino
If you could only take three items with you to a deserted island, what would they be? 
I’m not going back to a deserted beach; been there done that! If I have to, I will take a mirror, flint, and a machete. Then I will get rescued. If that is not allowed for this question, I’ll take a towel, a guitar, and lots of books. Could you throw in some extra guitar strings? The saltwater is so harsh on them!
 
How do you want to be remembered? 
For leaving a place in a better position than when I arrived, and for taking care of the people around me (and maybe for riding a single-speed bike to work).  
 
If you could have the answer to any question, what would it be?
I prefer to know the ultimate question, as I already have the answer, it is 42. According to Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it is the ultimate question that no one knows.
(July 2020)