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Take 10 with a Triton: Mirian Rios Enjoys Life Hiking…with a Cat

Mirian Rios with her cat, Lumi
Mirian Rios with her cat, Lumi

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Name: Mirian Rios

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Position: Senior Custodian

Years at UC San Diego: 18 years as of August. Rios started as a temp worker in May 2005, but quickly learned she wanted to stay at UC San Diego. When a permanent custodial position opened up, Rios applied, got the job, and has been here ever since.  

What she does at UC San Diego: “I work at Price Center and the Student Center—we rotate between them, but I usually work at PC,” Rios explained. There, Rios is responsible for cleaning the lobbies and office areas, as well as refreshing the restrooms. It’s important to her that she helps keep everything “for the students nice and neat.”

What she loves about UC San Diego: The students she sees and interacts with every day are the highlight of her job. Rios enjoys “working around students, being able to help them, and feeling their energy and enthusiasm—I love it!”

Rios smiling with family at Yosemite National Park
Rios with cat Lumi, daughter Leslie, stepchildren Christina and Josue and husband Luis at Yosemite National park close to Vernal falls

Rios continued working in her role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; she shared that seeing the buildings so empty during the early days of the pandemic—or during summer or winter break, for that matter—was stressful to her. Similarly to many of us, Rios considers it a blessing that everything is nearly back to normal. 

Best advice received: “Life is so precious that you’ve got to enjoy and love every minute of it,” she said, noting that her dad is currently experiencing health complications. “We have to live in the moment, not think about the past or the future, and just enjoy where we are the best we can because you never know when it’ll be your last breath.”  

Something unique about her workplace: Rios explained that there are many places in Price Center and the Student Center that many students don’t know about. She highlighted that the resource centers in the Student Center (e.g. the Cross-Cultural Center) have amenities available like a kitchen or quiet place to rest.

 In Price Center, she’s noticed that students are often so busy studying that they miss the artwork hung around the building. Her favorite? “Another” from Barbara Kruger, which you might recognize as the black-and-white clock murals with current events scrolling. “It reflects time in life,” she said. “Today isn’t another day, it’s a day less in your life and that’s why you must enjoy it."

Favorite spot on campus: Tucked away between the Art of Espresso Coffee Cart and Mandeville Auditorium is a tiny garden that borders the stairway to the LGBT resource center. Rios finds it relaxing, noting that it is one of her “favorite spots because you can see what nature can offer you, or just relax and see how the fruits and vegetables grow.” 

“Life is so precious that you’ve got to enjoy and love every minute of it. We have to live in the moment, not think about the past or the future, and just enjoy where we are the best we can because you never know when it’ll be your last breath.”  
Mirian Rios
Rios at the Student Center Garden
Rios at the Student Center Garden

Something most people don’t know about her: “I hike with my cat, Lumi,” Rios said with a laugh, “My husband and I camp, backpack and hike, and the funniest thing is that our cat follows us on the trail and hikes with us.”

Rios lit up when talking about Lumi’s adventures; she gleefully told the story of adopting Lumi at two months old—and naming her LuMi in honor of herself and her husband Luis—of training her to traverse the trails, and of Lumi’s hike up Mount Baldy when she was six months old. It’s clear that Lumi and Rios’ 24-year-old daughter, Leslie, are her and her husband’s pride and joy.

Rios with Lumi and Luis at the peak of Mount Baldy
Rios with Lumi and Luis at the peak of Mount Baldy

“Leslie is my only child and I’m really blessed with her, she’s a really good girl. She’s going to La Mesa College for vet tech, and I’m really thankful she’s such a hard worker. 

If she had one day to do anything she wanted: “I would spend it in the mountains for sure,” Rios said without skipping a beat. “Being in the mountains makes me free of stress and  responsibility. Enjoying nature, smelling the trees, and breathing the clean air is like my daydream.”

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