A huge congratulations goes out to the students that were nominated for UCF’s 30 Under 30 Alumni Award! Two students from the Nicholson School of Communication and Media were recipients of this incredible award: Daniella Medina and Rachel Mattingly Thomas.

UCF will celebrate this year’s honorees at an event on Saturday, May 18. In a brief interview, Thomas talks about what this honor means to her and her journey at UCF.

What does this honor mean to you?

“I am very honored to be selected as one of the recipients of UCF Alumni’s 2024 30 under 30 award. It’s truly humbling to be recognized among such talented individuals. This award reminds me of the responsibility I have to continue working hard and giving back to my community. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I’m committed to using this recognition as motivation to make an even greater impact in the future. I am very grateful for and wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my amazing husband Ryan, stepdaughter Ella, and parents Jim and Linda.” 

What was your academic career like and why did you join the Alumni Association here at UCF? 

“I completed my bachelor’s degree at UCF in 2019 in Advertising and Public Relations. I earned my master’s degree also at UCF in 2021 in Communication. The faculty I met in my master’s program, particularly my advisor Dr. Timothy Sellnow encouraged me to apply to the Strategic Communication PhD program and I am so thankful I did. I am now a doctoral candidate in the program, focusing on risk and crisis communication, and am currently working on my dissertation. My research interests are primarily in supporting the first responder community. My dissertation will focus on strategic efforts to combat incidents where first responders are struck by vehicles while attending to emergency situations on roadways.  

“I am also a graduate teaching associate at UCF and currently teach public speaking (SPC1608) and have also taught Intro to Communication (COM1000). I work in public education at Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department, handling the Department’s community outreach, public education and marketing efforts.” 

Congratulations to the outstanding young alumni who continue to excel in their accomplishments. Keep reaching for the stars, and as always, charge on!


By Majdulina Hamed.

Published to Nicholson News on March 4th, 2024.

If you have any news, accomplishments or highlights about your work or life, please be sure to share them with us, by emailing us at NicholsonNews@ucf.edu.