Flor D’Luna (Arellano) Blum ‘09C, ‘10G, ‘15G
Flor D’Luna (Arellano) Blum ‘09C, ‘10G, ‘15G, the first-ever graduate of the Master of Arts program in Public History, is now a park ranger in the National Park Service stationed at the Statue of Liberty. She gained her current position by interning with the park service while a graduate student at St. John’s.
Her day-to-day responsibilities as ranger involve spending a few hours in the statue’s crown, monitoring the activity below to prevent graffiti, vandalism, and other crime. She also gives tours of the island, runs the information center, and manages the Twitter account for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, @StatueEllisNPS.
“I love my job!” said Blum. “It’s unique and I love showing up to work every day. I’m fortunate enough to use my degree and skills, and I get to meet people from all over the world.”
Blum knew she wanted to be a park ranger, but found it challenging to break into the field. While in the public history program, however, Kristin M. Szylvian, Ph.D., program director for public history, helped her land an internship with the park service. She happened to be interning at Ellis Island when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, and put her archives training to good use packing up important artifacts and protecting them from storm damage. Her intern log was published in the park service magazine Ranger, and she was offered a full-time job from her internship.
“I’m a strong advocate of internships,” said Blum. “That’s how you know you really want to do something every day, and how you get your foot in the door.”
“When Flor told me of her dream to work for the National Park Service, I contacted a former Western Michigan student who is now a superintendent, and her contact information resulted in the internship,” said Szylvian. “When Flor's internship seemed literally washed away by Sandy (there was not even telephone service for roughly two weeks), I was able to renegotiate her duties so she could help the staff pack up the undamaged artifacts and prepare them for storage while the building at Ellis Island was repaired. It has been so gratifying to help someone like Flor realize such an important career goal.”
Blum came to SJU from her hometown, San Diego, CA. “I flourished as a person and even met my husband at St. John’s,” she said. She also found her niche in history because she was good at remembering dates. But it wasn’t until a family trip to Yosemite National Park that she realized what she could do with her education: work outside all day preserving living history for the public good.
“Public History is such an up and coming field, and where I work is a great example of that,” said Blum. “You have to make history accessible. I know a lot of people who think you can only teach with a history degree, and I do teach, but my classroom is an island.”
Working on Ellis Island has special significance for Blum, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1985. “It’s an iconic place,” she said, “and it’s inspiring to see the meaning it has for people who come here.” Because she also speaks Spanish, she gives tours of the island in Spanish during Hispanic Heritage Month.
In addition to her M.A. in Public History, Blum holds an M.A. in History and a B.A. in History with minors in Criminal Justice and International Studies from St. John’s.