VPF Point Person: Roberto Escobar
Roberto Escobar loves many things about his job — especially learning new things and meeting new people. He joined VPF’s Sponsored Accounting unitin February after serving on the VPF Travel and Card Services team, where he processed travel expense reports and provided training to DLCs on travel policies and processes. Today, Roberto finds himself in constant communication with research labs on campus, colleagues at the Office of Sponsored Programs, and industry research sponsors, working out the finer details of sponsored billing. “I love my new job,” he says. “I work on a wide range of projects, do some detective work resolving billing issues, and, in my own way, support a portfolio of ambitious, industry-driven research at MIT.”
Growing up in Union Square, Somerville, Roberto never imagined his career would lead him to MIT. Born in El Salvador, Roberto and his family moved to Massachusetts when he was five years old. After graduating from Somerville High School, he went on to study business management at Boston University. The first in his family to earn a college degree, Roberto is currently pursuing an M.S. at BU, focusing on project management.
Roberto credits his parents for inspiring him to work hard and take on challenges. “They came here and raised four kids—and wanted us to have opportunities they never had. My mom is from El Salvador and my dad is from Portugal, the Azores. So, dinners at our house had dishes from both cultures, the best meals you can imagine — pupusas corn tortillas filled with pork, refried beans, and cheeses, from my mother’s side — and Portuguese cod with potatoes and greens on my dad’s side.”
Roberto recalls his high school teachers describing him as curious and gregarious and today he finds being at MIT well suited to his personality and interests. “I love talking with the people I meet at MIT. The biggest surprise for me working in Sponsored Accounting was finding out about the range of industries engaged with MIT’s research labs. I expected the auto industry and pharmaceuticals, but I had no idea MIT was working with social media and traditional media companies on artificial intelligence, analytics, and more.”
Now living with roommates in Union Square, he is amazed at the changes underway in his neighborhood, the place The Boston Globe recently hailed as “the next Kendall Square.” Old factories are being renovated for labs and maker spaces and new businesses — restaurants and cafes, bakeries and bike shops — are opening every day. Union Square may be a mere mile and a half from Kendall Square, but today represents the path that brings his two worlds together.
“When I was 16, I wouldn’t believe you if you told me Union Square would be a destination for so many people from outside of Somerville on Friday night or that thousands would come here for the annual Fluff Festival. When I was younger I thought I wanted to leave here, now you’d have to drag me out kicking and screaming. I’m in the hot spot now.”