Jayna Enguita dancing in a competition outfit

UA’s ‘Special Culture’ Inspires Champion Ballroom Dancer, Graduate

Those who attend The University of Alabama will tell you there’s something unique about the Capstone that urges them to call UA home for a brief and pivotal segment of their lives.

For Jayna Enguita, a native of Frankfort, Illinois, it was the welcoming atmosphere she experienced on her tour of the University.

“I visited several universities during my junior year of high school,” said Enguita. “But when I toured Alabama, I immediately loved the campus, the people, and the nice weather, of course. I just thought the culture here was something special compared to other universities I visited. I felt like the faculty and staff really cared about us, our education, and well-being and safety.”

Enguita’s mother is a high school chemistry teacher and instilled a love for science in Jayna at a young age. When she arrived at UA, she knew she wanted to study chemistry but soon found a second major worth pursuing.

“Being surrounded by a love for science and education growing up and developing a passion for both myself, I knew I wanted to keep studying chemistry,” said Enguita. “In high school, I realized I was pretty good at chemistry and math and thought engineering would be a good fit for me to flex my creative muscles, so I decided to major in chemical engineering.”

In addition to her double major in chemical engineering and chemistry, Enguita is minoring in French and mathematics.

As a member of the Honors College who served as an Honors Year One mentor, Enguita has excelled in the classroom. She has performed research in Dr. James Sheehan’s lab investigating biomass fractionation with the goal of developing more sustainable and biodegradable packaging products by focusing on lignin recovery.

Through her research, Enguita was able to co-author a manuscript detailing procedures and data from the project.

Away from the classroom, Enguita found a special opportunity to pursue another passion as a freshman.

“I was involved in musical theater in high school but fell out of the arts once I got to UA as I transitioned to college life,” said Enguita. “I was invited to a ballroom dance class at a local church and thought it would be a good way to feed that hunger for the arts.”

UA has offered a plethora of opportunities that I don’t think I would’ve had anywhere else, which allowed me to grow into the person I want to be.

As she continued attending the social dance lessons, Enguita was recruited by a member of the UA Collegiate Ballroom Competition Team to join the student organization.

“I started attending practices for the competition team and learned all of the figures, steps and overall technique to become a better dancer,” said Enguita. “The experience also boosted my self-esteem as we achieved our goals at competitions, and I gained truly wonderful friends.”

In April 2022, the team entered its first national competition at the National Collegiate DanceSport Championships. Enguita and teammate Reed Fowler ranked first in both Collegiate and Adult Bronze International Paso Doble.

At the 2023 National Collegiate DanceSport Championships in March, Enguita and Fowler competed at the Gold level for the first time and earned fourth place in Collegiate Smooth, which included Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz, and fifth place in Adult Smooth. The duo also earned finalist placements in all events across four levels and American Smooth and International Latin styles.

In addition to competing, Enguita has served in leadership roles as the team’s treasurer last year and president this year.

Enguita’s love for sciences and education has provided her with ample future opportunities. She has been accepted to three universities for graduate school with the end goal of earning her doctorate in chemistry. She is also contemplating a career path in either research and development in industry or in academia.

With a bright future ahead, Enguita is mindful of the foundation created during her time at UA.

With graduation coming up, I’ve had the opportunity to be introspective and nostalgic about how much I’ve grown over the past four years,” said Enguita. “UA has offered a plethora of opportunities that I don’t think I would’ve had anywhere else, which allowed me to grow into the person I want to be.

“Everyone is really proud to say they’re part of the Capstone and I think that atmosphere is evident in all areas of campus life.”


Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, bryant.welbourne@ua.edu