UCF Alumnus Represents Home Country

Luis Aparicio (left) with Rep. Pete Sessions (right)

Thirty years before he became the Counselor for Political Affairs at the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington D.C., Luis Aparicio was an international student waiting to graduate from high school. His biggest dream was to attend college in the United States and study journalism.

“I remember I requested over a dozen catalogs from U.S. higher-education institutions,” Aparicio said. “The programs were all exciting, fulfilling and overpassing my expectations. The only problem was that my family could not afford it.”

Aparicio refused to allow money to become a roadblock on the path to his education, and never stopped dreaming of an American education.

“By life’s circumstances, I was able to make my way through the U.S. academic system years later,” Aparicio said. “My cousins from Central America were already attending UCF, so I moved to Central Florida to attend college.”

Aparicio ran for a student government position at Valencia College. He got the job, and it helped pay for half of his tuition at the school. He later transferred to UCF to complete his degree in journalism. He says it was the time he spent on campus that ultimately helped him determine his future.

“My UCF experience established the main foundation of my career development,” he said. “Not only did key classes at UCF give me the basis for my career in media and institutional communication for non-profit organizations, it also ignited my motivation for political affairs and international development.”

Remembering his time as a student government member at Valencia, Aparicio knew he was looking for another opportunity to help shape lives. He became the president of the Inter-American Students Association (IASA), which offered him opportunities to expand into a political landscape.

“That position gave me the opportunity to attend a general assembly model session Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC to represent a Central American country,” he said. “It proved to me to be a life-changing experience.”

Aparicio with colleagues in the OAS building

As the president of the club, he also had the opportunity to host invited politicians and lecturers on the UCF campus, while working with his mentor, professor Emerita Waltraud Queiser-Morales, Ph.D., of the Political Science department. Aparicio even had the opportunity to welcome Michael Manley, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, to UCF.

Since then, Aparicio has seized every opportunity to help the community.

“Profit and self-gain have not been my highest priority,” he said. “The jobs I had had since I left UCF have been, one way or the other, oriented to serve people.”

This is certainly true of his current job as the Counselor for Political Affairs at the Embassy of El Salvador.

“The foreign policy of the Salvadoran government has, among its highest priorities, the protection of our nationals living abroad, out of which 90 percent lives in the US,” he said.

Protecting those people is one of his greatest concerns. To do so, Aparicio monitors current immigration laws, issues with foreign assistance and other, regional security programs. He then follows up with Congress, assisting the Ambassador, to make sure El Salvador is properly represented in the United States.

He has been assisting the relations between El Salvador and the United States government since 1999, something he would not have imagined himself doing when he was a UCF student 30 years ago.

“Thirty years ago, who would have told me that I would be participating in Washington during the intense sessions between the United States and Latin American colleagues discussing issues of regional security, advancement of regional democracy, narco-trafficking and the highly complicated matters on immigration,” he said.

While in Washington, Aparicio also stays connected with the UCF community.

“Along with the College of Sciences, I had the opportunity to help organize an exchange of embassies in Washington, DC with UCF representatives that presented the doctoral program in security studies, the new Center for Intelligence and Security and innovative doctoral and master programs being offered at UCF,” he said. “I wanted to be involved in the surge of exponential growth and innovativeness of things.”

Aparicio hopes others will take the time to help foster the UCF alumni community.

“Within our busy schedules, it is very gratifying to devote time to help those recently graduated UCF Knights,” he said. “We must always remember that someone invested time to help us get to where we are now.”


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