Employee of the Month - MaryJeanne Oliva

August 2015, Division of BMIR

“MaryJeanne is the glue that holds our program together.”

With these words, Nigam Shah, MD (assistant professor, Biomedical Informatics Research), succinctly summarized the value of August’s Employee of the Month, MaryJeanne Oliva.

As the Student Services Administrator and Admissions Officer for the Biomedical Informatics Training Program (BMI), Oliva sees a steady stream of student traffic. She is the primary contact for current and former students in the BMI program, who rely on her for information about everything from paychecks to help navigating personal matters.

“MaryJeanne is involved in all aspects of student care ranging from setting up their interviews, making sure all the regulations around foreign students are met, getting them paid, tracking student milestones, and organizing qualifying exams and theses defenses,” said Shah. “For every student, she goes the extra mile that makes them feel cared for, welcome, and happy. The students universally adore her (and fear her if they are slacking on any aspect).”

In addition to working with students, Oliva oversees all of the administrative functions of BMI, facilitates alumni relations, prepares budgets, and coordinates training grant support groups. She’s also an invaluable resource for faculty and staff throughout the Department. As Terri Oppelt Preising, a program associate for Stanford Prevention Research Center, explained: “The Stanford Prevention Research Center’s new master’s program was approved recently. MaryJeanne has been a valuable source of information, helping us navigate the confusing forms and systems to set up our student services operation. We have dropped in on her and emailed her countless times with a quick question, and she has been unfailingly polite and informative.”

Oliva, who was born at Stanford Hospital and grew up in Menlo Park, earned a master’s in educational administration with an emphasis on higher education. After graduation, she worked at Santa Clara University. “Some people are surprised to find out that I was the Theater Manager at Santa Clara University for 11 years—and that I lent my Fiat to Patrick Steward in 1983,” she recalled. “I also worked in the Modern Languages and Literature Department and in Admissions at Santa Clara.” When Oliva came to Stanford ten years ago, she discovered work she loved. “The best thing about working at Stanford is the privilege of supporting such wonderful faculty, postdocs, and students, and the amazing, world-changing output they are producing!”

Over the years, Oliva’s patience and her willingness to help others have earned her the admiration of many. “Mary Jeanne is exceptionally attentive and responsive to the needs of students and faculty members,” observed Kung Hsing-Yu, a PhD student in BMI. “She creates a warm and cheerful working environment in the Medical School Office Building, and spreads a positive working morale among those around her.”