UCF Alum Gives Back By Passing Onto Next Generation

UCF Alum Gives Back By Passing Onto Next Generation

Haydee M. Cuevas, ’97 and ’04, is a life-long fan of the University of Central Florida. She came to UCF as an undergraduate student, served as a researcher and graduate student, and returns to campus often as an alumna, educator and professional.

“UCF has been the perfect setting for me to grow both personally and professionally, always providing me with an abundant and supportive educational environment,” she said. In particular, Cuevas noted that she greatly benefited from the many opportunities that UCF offers minority students and first generation college attendees.

When Alvin Wang, Dean of the UCF Burnett Honors College, was a psychology professor and Cuevas was an undergraduate student, Wang invited her to help him with his latest research project. Cuevas was ecstatic to learn about psychology research from one of her favorite professors.

“I’ve always remembered that – he got me first started on that path,” she said. “I can honestly say that I have never met a professor at UCF that didn’t help and motivate me.”

Cuevas, now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Doctoral Studies in the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, credits her success in academia to the relationships she built with those at UCF.

“Just because you are finished with your degree, doesn’t mean you are finished with the university – stay connected to classmates and professors, attend events, do everything you can to grow your professional network,” Cuevas said.

A quick glance at her 27-page curriculum vita and it is clear that Cuevas has a relentless passion for her work. She studied psychology at UCF then focused on applied experimental and human factors psychology for her doctorate degree.

“I love to learn, I’ll be 80 years old and signing up for courses,” she said. “It is easy to find time when you are doing what you love.”

Earning advanced degrees wasn’t the only thing Cuevas did to ensure a successful career in the field. She has 15 years of experience, spending seven of those years in industry, as a human factors researcher investigating a range of human performance issues in complex environments.

Cuevas has worked on numerous research projects for government and industry organizations including the United States Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She also emphasizes professional service and volunteering for the organizations that represent her field as key to her success.

Her position with Embry-Riddle encompasses all of the things Cuevas loves – learning, teaching and mentoring. She is constantly providing students with valuable advice while working in academia and the private sector.

She currently develops and teaches doctoral-level human factors and aviation safety courses for the Ph.D. in Aviation program, conducts publishable research, presents at conferences, secures grants and awards, advises students and serves on thesis and dissertation committees.

“My goal is to save the world, one student at a time,” Cuevas said. “How can I ensure the success of my field without helping the next generation of students?”