People may forget what Gary Acosta says or what he does but they never forget how he makes them feel.
As a self proclaimed “big introvert,” Acosta, an Admissions Counselor at UHD, meets hundreds of people each year and is surprised to find they remember him years later. However, with his friendly smile and humble and engaging personality, it is no surprise he’s so memorable.
Acosta’s love for his work as an admissions counselor brings him out of his comfort zone. He enjoys connecting with people and the local community to help grow the University through his work.
“It’s those connections. I love connecting with the students and parents,” Acosta said. “It’s the people that make this place so great.”
Acosta remembers one memorable time when he was in the parking garage and encountered a student he didn’t remember; however, the student remembered Acosta.
According to Acosta, the student smiled at him and told him he was the reason he came to UHD. The student told Acosta they met at the student’s high school and Acosta had recruited him. This encounter stuck in Acosta’s mind and reminds him why his work at connecting with students is so important.
“I’m always connecting. I like that I become a point of contact for them (students). I encourage, motivate and influence people’s educational goals,” Acosta said. During his encounters with students, he especially loves sharing the history of UHD and its location on 1 Main Street.
“Houston began on these banks,” Acosta tells students. He explains how integral Allen’s Landing was to early Houston and how many historic Houston leaders walked UHD’s bayou banks. Acosta’s telling generates a sense of historic pride for the area and its former leaders and instills a sense of hope for new leaders being created at UHD today.
A native Houstonian, Acosta was born in the old Jefferson Davis Hospital and raised in the Near Northside just down the street from UHD. He moved to the 5th Ward when he was 10 and as an only child in a new neighborhood had to actively work at making friends.
“I was like the first Hispanic kid on the block,” Acosta said. “I now had to move outside my comfort zone, because I had to make friends that were probably very different me.”
Growing up so close to UHD, Acosta is intimately aware of the history of downtown Houston and UHD.
“I grew up a couple of miles from UHD. I used to ride my bike downtown to go to Pappa Burger,” Acosta said. I still remember when the George R. Brown was brand new and there was no Discovery Green.”
Acosta even remembers when UHD had sliding glass doors at the front of the One Main Building.
“I’ve always wanted to work here (UHD). I love this place. I love the University,” Acosta said. “It’s the location and people that make UH-Downtown so great. I like that UHD is in the heart of the city.”
Acosta got his chance to work for UHD in 2005 after receiving his BBA in International Business from UHD. He took a position with the College of Business and worked there for six years before moving to a position with American Military University. However, four years ago, Acosta came back to UHD and couldn’t be happier.
“Getting my MBA was part of the reason I came back to working at UHD,” Acosta said. He also bought a house nearby. “I love UHD and have a lot of alumni friends.”
With so much going on, Acosta surprisingly still finds time to engage in his creative side with a renaissance man level of hobbies. A recent hobby he’s taken on during the pandemic is woodworking.
“I really fell in love lately with wood furniture,” he said. Acosta said he’s been starting to get more into using heavy wood and hopes to be able to sell his creations someday. Right now his final products are gifts for family and close friends.
In addition to woodworking, Acosta also dabbles in art, is a cameraman for his church, produces short videos for friends and produces music.
“Most people don’t know I produce music. I’m very shy about sharing my music talent,” he said. Acosta even had his own studio booth at home for engineering and recording. He started this hobby in his late teens and has kept up with it over the years.
With everything going on in Acosta’s life, he still makes engaging and connecting with people at UHD in a priority.
“I love the University. I love UHD because of the people.”