A love for education and a desire to keep learning drove Angelica Encinas to start college at the age of 16. While nerve-wracking at first, encouragement from her high school teacher, Kim Smith, and a natural eagerness to learn pushed the uncertainty away when classes started. Now, she has become the first in her family to graduate from college when she completed her bachelor’s degree in industrial leadership from Northern Arizona University in July.
“I love education,” Encinas said. “Learning new things is something that I strive for. I’ve changed my major a few times, but ultimately learning is something that I haven’t changed.”
Supported and inspired by her family and girlfriend to pursue higher education, Encinas started her educational journey at Central Arizona College (CAC), where she earned an associate’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology. From there, she spoke with Joy D’Angelo, an assistant clinical professor for off-campus education at NAU, and transferred into the Industrial Leadership 90/30 degree program through the 2NAU program.
The 2NAU program is a partnership between NAU, the Arizona community colleges and select community colleges in California to provide affordable and convenient options for students to transfer into an NAU bachelor’s degree program. Students start classes at their community college and then transfer to NAU in Flagstaff, online or any of the statewide locations.
“Transferring to a university from a community college can be very intimidating for many students,” Matthew Tantau, executive director for enrollment and student services, said. “The 2NAU program provides a supportive pathway to help them navigate this process and succeed in their educational goals.
The industrial leadership degree is a bachelor’s program that teaches trade skills in industrial technologies, general business and liberal studies with a focus on leadership roles, giving students the tools and abilities to manage or start their own businesses after graduating. The 90/30 program degrees allow students to transfer up to 90 lower-division credit hours and then complete 30 upper-division credits when they transfer to NAU.
“I chose this degree program because I wanted to learn how to lead a successful group with the mindful thought of being an operator,” Encinas said. “I’ve had different leaders, some great and some not so great, that encouraged me to want to learn more about people and how to deal with individuals in the workplace.”
This degree was conceptually different from her associate’s program, which focused on technology aspects in the job field. The industrial leadership degree emphasized effective communication, problem-solving strategies, creative solutions and ethical leadership of people.
“Learning techniques on how to be an efficient leader is a must in a manufacturing environment,” Encinas said. “You are leading a team or group of people to accomplish a mission and without people skills, or leadership skills, it will be very difficult to accomplish that mission.”
Her degree path through 2NAU presented new opportunities as she embarked on a career path in September. While still finishing her degree, she started as a production member with Lucid Motors, an American automotive company specializing in electric cars. She also had the opportunity to interview her team leader as part of a final project.
“It was a great opportunity to see how an established leader thinks.”
Students in the program design a personal plan of study to meet their individual needs, whether that be a broad general education, career advancement, personal intellectual enrichment or the start of a pre-professional plan.
“The program provides personalized guidance for students who want to transfer and attend NAU,” Tantau said. “With an NAU representative, known as a student service coordinator, students have access to NAU resources and personalized guidance to help them determine academic programs, course selection to maximize credits, and support for a seamless transfer to NAU.”
By participating in the program, Tantau said students are eligible for a 2NAU Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded upon admission to NAU and is valued at $2,000 a year, renewable for two years.
Encinas said her time at NAU grew the knowledge and skills to help her deal with difficult workplace situations. She is able to come up with creative problem-solving solutions and appreciates the help from instructors that guided her education with resources and assistance.
As she continues to build her career outside of school, the avid learner offers this piece of advice to incoming transfer students.
“Continue with your education, there is so much to learn at your fingertips, you just have to be mindful and open-minded to grasp it all.”
Jacklyn Walling | NAU Communications