Program Coordinator James Tolleson
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
College Major: Music
Office: Undergraduate Admissions Center
Q: Where are you from?
A: I am proud to have been born and raised in San Antonio. I attended Douglas MacArthur High School, where I played tuba in the band and orchestra and competed in basketball, cross country and track and field.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you study?
A: I attended The University of Texas at Austin, which was not my first choice, initially. I wanted to study somewhere far away and exciting, perhaps on the East or West Coast, because I had never left the state of Texas. That being said, I ultimately realized that I could not find a better bargain in terms of price and quality than UT Austin.
I studied music, focusing on tuba, conducting and education. Music had long been a passion of mine, but I had felt somewhat pressured to choose a more “practical” major. My perspective began to change after having the opportunity to participate in the Honors Wind Ensemble at UT Austin the summer before my senior year of high school. It was a transformative experience without which I doubt I would have ever attended UT Austin or studied music. I hope that all students find their own academic inspiration. The School of Undergraduate Studies can help with that!)
Q: How long have you been working in higher education?
A: I have been working at UT Austin since graduating in 2008. I enjoy working with our remarkably talented, enthusiastic, and committed faculty, staff, and students. From my first days as a student, I have appreciated the university’s sincere commitment to transforming lives through scholarship. The entire Longhorn community dedicates itself to knowledge, service and leadership.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do in Austin?
A: I love the food culture. I grew up as the pickiest eater you’d imagine, but I’ve since become a bit of a foodie. Austin truly embraces local cuisine, markets and gardens, and I have found that it empowers me to cook and enjoy meals with friends and family.
In addition, Austin embraces nature and provides for gorgeous outdoor opportunities in the city and in the nearby Hill Country. My favorites include Hamilton Pool, Zilker Park and the many nearby state parks.
Q: What is your favorite UT Austin fact?
A: Although we are often the nation’s leader in athletics revenue, I am amazed that UT Austin’s annual research revenue typically surpasses athletic revenue by a factor of four. Our research activities attract the best faculty, who attract the best graduate students. Together, they create opportunities for undergraduates that are the envy of nearly every other university in the world.
Q: What advice do you have for prospective students?
A: It is okay if you don’t know what you want to do in life, especially as a career. Few of us do. Embrace the journey and all of its challenges. With that in mind, be prepared to critically examine your perspectives on the purpose(s) of university education. Yes, you should aim to attain credentials, skills, and contacts in the pursuit of a career of your choosing. However, further challenge yourself to become an educated, well-rounded citizen. Prepare yourself to take advantage of UT Austin’s many opportunities for research, interdisciplinary study and leadership development.