Winter Springs, Florida
College:College of Arts and Humanities
Degree Program:History MA
Research Focus:The history of civil defense in the United States
As a native Floridian, Luis Rios is no stranger to severe weather. Growing up, his dream was to become a meteorologist and pursue his interests in the environment and natural disasters.
“As a young child when 9/11 occurred, my life had been affected by the national security state as long as I can remember,” Rios says. “I saw the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and wanted to understand how the most powerful country in history stood no chance against the natural world.”
In 2021, Rios earned his bachelor's degree in History with a minor in Emergency Management and Homeland Security at UCF. Throughout his studies, he worked as an intern in emergency management on the COVID-19 response with the Seminole County Office of Emergency Management. The experience solidified his desire to study environmental history and emergency management, leading him to pursue a master’s degree at UCF as well.
Rios always knew he wanted to study history and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, who had a master’s degree in History. “The History MA program was the only one I applied to, and I was honored to be accepted,” he says. Now, he is blending his interests in an interdisciplinary fashion.
Currently, Rios is researching the history of civil defense in the United States. He hopes to show how militarized and unprofessional emergency management practices have left the nation vulnerable to natural disasters throughout history. He understands that studying history and doing research is a slow grind but remains committed to continuing his work.
In addition to his studies, Rios serves as a Graduate Ambassador in the Graduate Student Center, which he describes as a central part of his experience as a graduate student at UCF. He is grateful that UCF offers a space dedicated to graduate students where collaboration is fostered in such an open environment between students of different disciplines.
Rios also appreciates the flexibility of his program and the support he has received. “The history program has always treated me with the utmost respect and been there for me whenever I needed anything as a student,” he says. He has picked up many life lessons from his professors in the program. “Dr. Amy Foster has taught me that you work hard and smart during the day to sleep the sleep of the just at night — a saying I still carry with me to this day that resonates in general life,” he says.
After graduating in 2024, Rios is considering becoming a professor or pursuing a PhD in a program like educational leadership and getting into academic administration. Fortunately, he says his position in the Graduate Student Center will help him determine his career path by giving him a holistic experience working in academics.
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