Roadside Chat | Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with Dahvee Enciso, Sr. Civil Engineer Specialist

Dahvee Enciso with his family and father Javier at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Dia De Los Muertos crosswalk dedicated to his mother Eva. Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso

Summary:

  • We’re proud to celebrate our colleagues’ and community members’ cultures, diverse heritage, and interests through our Roadside Chats blog series.
  • We recently talked with Dahvee Enciso, who shared details about his career, interests, and what National Hispanic Heritage Month means to him personally. We hope you enjoy reading!
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month started on Wednesday, September 15 and ends Friday, October 15. This month recognizes the culture, contributions, and history of Hispanic Americans in U.S. history.
  • September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the commemoration because it’s the anniversary of independence for five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, who declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile, and Belize, celebrate their independence days on September 16, 18, and 21, respectively.

Thanks for taking time to share your experiences. What’s your current role at SDOT and how long have you been with the department?

My current role in the Pavement, Signs and Markings, and Right Of Way Crew Construction Division is a Senior Civil Engineer Specialist. In my role, I get to play in the streets and color the city with decorative intersection murals, decorative crosswalks, curb bulbs, and sidewalks murals, as well as work directly with communities and design art that represents their culture in their neighborhoods.

In the “grown up” side of my job, I assist with plan reviews, inspect street marking projects upon completion, and serve as the liaison between Signs and Makings, our Transportation Operations Division, and Pavement Engineering and Management Section (PEMS), I support the Slurry Seal program, and take on whatever is asked of me. No day is the same and I LOVE IT!

I’ve been with SDOT for 15 years. First with Signs and Markings starting as a maintenance laborer, and moving up through the ranks to become a Crew Chief. I spent nine years with Signs and Markings and eventually found my way to PEMS where I developed our decorative markings into what they are today. I learned a lot of new skills and have been growing ever since. Moving to PEMS was a bit outside of my comfort level but once there, I found a really great group of teammates!   

What do you love about your job?

I have the privilege and honor to create works of art that directly connect with communities’ cultural identities and be a part of historic art like the BLACK LIVES MATTER murals that remind us daily that the work must continue!

Dahvee Enciso at the Papel Picado and El Dia De Los Muertos crosswalks in South Park. A colorful painted crosswalk sits below Dahvee, with the roadway visible in the background.
Dahvee Enciso at the Papel Picado and El Dia De Los Muertos crosswalks in South Park on 8th Ave S and S Cloverdale St. Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso
Left: Dahvee Enciso and crew installing the BLACK LIVES MATTER (Enough is Enough) mural at Seattle City Hall. Right: 4 of Dahvee Enciso’s 7 children visiting their dad at work at the Black Lives Matter mural in Capitol Hill.
Left: Dahvee Enciso and crew installing the BLACK LIVES MATTER; enough is enough mural at Seattle City Hall. Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso
Right: 4 of Dahvee Enciso’s 7 children visiting their dad at work at the BLACK LIVES MATTER mural in Capitol Hill. Life lessons we can’t pass up! Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso

What’s something people might not know about the work you and/or your team do?

We do extensive background research on the cultures we’re designing for so we can get it right, as well as consult with community members to vet our design concepts! Though one might have the right intentions designing what one may think honors a certain culture, unknowingly, it could be offensive because certain significant cultural details were left out, the wrong colors were used, or sacred images were altered. When we serve others outside of one’s self, we must serve without any preconceived notion that we know what we’re doing and recognize we all have a lot to learn!

What comes to mind when you think of Hispanic American Heritage Month?

The answer to this question is bittersweet because the struggle is real. The answer that pounds out of my chest is, “GRATEFUL!” I’m eternally and unimaginably GRATEFUL for everyone who came before me and those who never saw their families again in their homeland like my stepdad who raised me and my siblings. I’m GRATEFUL for those who died thirsty in the desert trying to cross over to what they were told was the “Promise Land.” I’m GRATEFUL for those who selflessly sacrificed everything to give the future generations a fighting chance! I’m GRATEFUL for my ancestors grit, tenacity, vision, and “SI SE PUEDE” mantra that’s ingrained in the very fabric of my being!

Photo of Dahvee and his dad at a sports game at Lumen Field.
Left: Dahvee Enciso; Right: My Dad “El Toro”. Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso

Is there a way you like to honor or celebrate the month?

I celebrate and honor the month by reflecting on the beauty of my Mexican culture. What brings the celebration to my heart is the music. When Vicente Fernandez starts playing, something magical happens and I’m taken back to my youth where I’m waking up in my bed in Hillsboro, Oregon, on a Saturday morning to my mom cleaning the house with Pine-Sol, the smell of beans and tortillas wafting through the house, blue skies outside my window, and Vicente Fernandez on full blast. Familia (family), comida (food), y musica (and music) that’s how we honor National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Typical Seahawks Sunday Enciso family authentic homemade meal. A variety of foods are laid out on a table, ready to be eaten.
Typical Seahawks Sunday Enciso family authentic homemade meal. GO HAWKS! Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso

What do you wish people in the local community/at SDOT/or more broadly knew about Hispanic Heritage Month? About being Hispanic today, in Seattle, and/or at SDOT?

I wish people knew how genuinely grateful many Latinos are to simply be able to work and provide for their families. Even while working in some of the most undesirable jobs in the fields during summer on their hands and knees, bent over all day, or behind a hot grill every day – there’s still laughter, there’s still joy, there’s still hope for the future, there’s love, there’s peace, and there’s always an extra seat at the table no matter who you are!

Who’s someone in the Hispanic community that you look up to or admire? Why?

My siblings and family! They inspire me to be the best version of myself daily!

Dahvee and his family celebrate a birthday while at a party.
Dahvee and his family and friends eat at a dim sum restaurant. Many people smile at the camera while eating.
Dahvee and his family enjoy tubing in the snow at Snoqualmie Pass, while smiling at the camera.
Dahvee with part of the family celebrating a birthday, eating dim sum at a restaurant, and one half of the Enciso family enjoying some Snoqualmie tubing action. Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Finding the next best taco, pho, sushi, or dim sum. But most of all I LOVE being a sideline dad watching my kids’ sports games!

Dahvee and his kids smile at the camera while wearing soccer and wrestling uniforms, while smiling at the camera inside a gym building hallway.
Dahvee and his kids traveling between soccer and wrestling matches on a busy sports day.

Who inspires you personally or professionally?

My mother Eva. She taught me to be a gentle father with my kids, to be a patient husband to my wife Melissa, to cherish family, and to love deep.

Dahvee and his mother Eva at a Seattle Seahawks game. The field is visible in the background.
Dahvee with his mother Eva at a Seattle Seahawks game. Photo credit: Dahvee Enciso

Is there anything else you haven’t yet shared that you’d like to mention today?

The only things we take with us when it’s all said and done are memories. Cherish your time with one another. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Fill your heart with joy. Love, laugh, and eat good food!