Inspiring Graduate: Ariana Enciso, B.S. Applied Social Science

‘It is about evolving into a more adaptable, empathetic and capable individual ready to make a positive difference in the world.’
December 27, 2023

Inspiring Graduate: Ariana Enciso (’23)

  • Hometown: Fond du Lac
  • Degree: Applied Social Science
  • Concentration: History & Politics
  • Minors:  Applied Peace Studies; Spanish

As the fourth oldest of six siblings, the daughter of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student, Ariana Enciso overcame significant obstacles to earn her applied social science degree from UW-Stout.

Each hurdle she faced was a lesson in perseverance and resilience, reaffirming the importance of endurance and tenacity required in the pursuit of one’s goals.

Ariana Enciso
Inspiring graduate Ariana Enciso's educational journey at UW-Stout was pointed by personal growth, tenacity and an unwavering dedication to her goals / UW-Stout

“I understand firsthand the sacrifices and dreams that many first-generation students carry with them as they step into the world of higher education,” she said. “My family's story has fueled my passion for learning not just for personal growth but also for the betterment of my community and as a tribute to the generations that came before me and the ones that will follow.

“My story is a reminder that success is not just about the end goal but also about the journey, the character built along the way, and the importance of looking after one’s mental health throughout,” she added.

Enciso earned her B.S. in applied social science from UW-Stout on Dec. 16, along with 526 graduates.

She plans to begin her career as a human resource manager, focusing on retention in the workplace by creating a healthier and happier work environment. 

“My aspiration is to contribute to organizational success by nurturing a workplace culture that values and supports its employees. The goal is not just about finding a job but about making a meaningful impact in the lives of employees and the overall success of the organization,” Enciso said.

How has your UW-Stout education changed you?

My journey at UW-Stout wasn't merely an academic pursuit; it was a transformational period that influenced both my personal and professional growth. The educational environment fostered in me a sense of tenacity and adaptability. 

Ariana Enciso
Ariana Enciso will soon begin her career as a human resource manager / UW-Stout

Stout is not just an educational institution; it's a community that cares deeply about the well-being of its students. The university provided an environment where I could feel secure, explore my potential and engage in meaningful discussions. This experience has shaped my perspective on the importance of inclusivity, empathy, and the need for safe, supportive spaces in every facet of life. 

Beyond academics, the diverse community and the exposure to diverse cultures, identities and experiences enriched my understanding of the world.

It taught me the value of diversity and the power of respecting and learning from varied perspectives. My time at Stout has instilled in me a deeper appreciation for education as a catalyst for personal growth and social change. 

It is not just about earning a degree; it is about evolving into a more adaptable, empathetic and capable individual ready to make a positive difference in the world.

How well has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field?

UW-Stout's approach to education, which focuses on practical, hands-on learning, has been invaluable in preparing me for the professional world. 

The mentorship I’ve received, exceptional lab facilities and internship opportunities have provided me with not just theoretical knowledge, but with a real-world understanding of industry standards and practices and have prepared me to step into the professional world with confidence. 

Ariana Enciso
Ariana Enciso crosses the stage at commencement / UW-Stout

The diverse and inclusive community at UW-Stout has exposed me to a variety of perspectives and approaches, mirroring the diverse landscape I will encounter in my career. This exposure has broadened my understanding and equipped me to work effectively in diverse and dynamic environments. 

What stands out about your UW-Stout experience?

The unique combination of diverse and dedicated professors, outstanding support services, like TRIO Student Support Services, and hands-on learning opportunities truly made my experience at UW-Stout exceptional and immensely rewarding.

The diverse perspectives and expertise brought by each professor allowed me to gain a multifaceted understanding of my field. Their dedication to imparting knowledge, coupled with their industry experience and commitment to student success provided me with mentorship and insights that are directly applicable to the challenges and opportunities I will encounter in my field.

TRIO Student Support Services is an exceptional resource. Their unwavering support has been instrumental in making my experience at Stout meaningful and purposeful. The guidance, mentorship and resources provided by the TRIO staff have tremendously aided me in navigating the challenges of academia and have been a cornerstone in my success. 

How did your involvement on campus impact your experience?

I am committed to making a difference on campus and in the community through my diverse interests, and dedication to advocacy, diversity and inclusion. My commitment to social justice causes, my bilingual abilities and my leadership within campus organizations have profoundly impacted my college experience.

I was a McNair Scholar, a student fellow for the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion office, and was involved in the Stout Student Association, TRIO Student Support Services, Multicultural Student Services, Latino Unidos and American Sign Language.

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I received the John and Louise Gomulak Endowed Scholarship, the Geraldine Raisler Hedberg Endowed Scholarship and the Iluminado El Futuro (Light the Future), the Multicultural Scholarship, Lawton Grant, Stout Proud Grant and SSA Leadership Scholarship.

These played a crucial role in supporting my academic journey, reducing the burden on me and my family. They enabled me to continue my studies while actively engaging in extracurricular activities and advocating for the causes I deeply care about, providing me with the freedom to focus on helping others by becoming a human resource manager on employee retention. 

These scholarships have been instrumental in turning my aspirations into a tangible reality.

What challenges did you face in earning your degree and how did you overcome them?

The journey to earning my degree was riddled with challenges that demanded a delicate balance between academic pursuits and personal responsibilities. My transition to college was not merely an academic shift but an emotional upheaval.

I grew up in a home where both of my parents battled health issues. There were instances when familial concerns took precedence over my academic aspirations, but finding a safe haven was imperative.

UW-Stout emerged as that much-needed sanctuary, where I could focus on my studies, find emotional support and engage in meaningful conversations.

Balancing the demands of coursework while attending to pressing family needs felt overwhelming. To navigate this intricate balance, I crafted a disciplined schedule, and study groups enabled me to stay on track. I proactively communicated with my professors, requesting extensions where necessary. Their unwavering support and understanding played a pivotal role in ensuring I could catch up without compromising the quality of my education. 

Financial constraints stood as another towering obstacle on my path to education. I pursued scholarships, sought part-time work and explored financial aid resources.

The dedication to my academic responsibilities led to an unintentional isolation from social interactions, hindering my mental well-being. My studies left little room for personal connections and socializing, culminating in a growing sense of anxiety, depression and even thoughts of self-harm.

Ariana Enciso
Ariana Enciso and applied social science Program Director Tina Lee at commencement / UW-Stout

Navigating this mental health challenge, it became clear that achieving success academically required more than just relentless dedication to coursework. It demanded a delicate equilibrium between academic rigor and personal well-being. 

Engaging with counselors at UW-Stout and seeking guidance in managing stress became crucial. Through this, I began to recognize the importance of self-care and mental health in the pursuit of academic excellence.

What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?

This journey was not just about earning a degree but about personal growth, tenacity and the unwavering dedication I have discovered within myself.

I am proud of not just completing my degree but doing so while engaging in extracurricular activities and advocating for social justice. 

I would like to encourage students to understand the significance of their actions today to shape a better tomorrow and the long-term impact of their choices and efforts. Remember to celebrate the small victories and know that self-care and mental well-being are as significant as academic achievements. 

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