Oscar Silva thought he wanted to go into the film industry and, after high school, he enrolled in a local community college to study film and video production. “I was doing great. I entered a movie in a contest and it got first place. I was totally confident about a career in film. Until I actually went to Hollywood. I hated it,” he admits. “It was such a grind. The whole scene, it wasn’t for me.”
Disappointed, Silva dropped out of school. “I was confused. That had been my dream for so long,” he says. He took some time off and went to work in a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. He made good money and the job was dependable, but he knew he wanted to do something more.
Two years later, Silva enrolled at MiraCosta College. “I started out focusing on entrepreneurial studies. I realized that I was interested in business and venture capitalism, but I didn’t think I could get into that field. You picture a venture capitalist as a sort of ‘prestigious’ position, something guys from Harvard do. I don’t see myself that way, so I tried to talk myself out of it.”
Thank goodness his teacher Christina Sharp didn’t let that happen. Once she figured out Silva’s real interests, she connected him with mentor Aaron Byzak, a MiraCosta alumni who works as Chief External Affairs Officer for Tri-City Medical Center.
Byzak commends Silva for his commitment and follow-through. “He’s one of the few people I know who always does what he says he’s going to do. We meet every week to discuss his personal and career goals and I have no doubt he’s going to meet every single one of those them. He’s an outstanding young man.”
The connection with Byzak has had a powerful impact on Silva. “I quickly realized Aaron and I had a lot of similarities,” he said. “We grew up in the same area and he went back to school when he was 24, just like I did, and he’s very successful. Knowing he was able to get where he is makes me feel like I can achieve my dreams too.”
Silva no longer thinks venture capitalism is only for ‘prestigious’ guys from Ivy League schools. He’s focused on transferring to USC next fall and potentially pursuing a Master’s Degree. For students who are working toward their dreams, he recommends finding a great mentor and making a lot of friends.
Silva adds, “You have to know what you really want. Sometimes, when you’re working so hard in school, having that vision is like a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s what gets you through. That’s what keeps me working so hard.”