Vicente Mariscal
Vicente Mariscal

By Joanna Steward, College of Arts and Sciences

Digital technology and culture senior Vicente Mariscal has been selected to carry the College of Arts and Sciences gonfalon during Saturday’s commencement ceremony in Beasley Coliseum.

With more than 10 years of active military service under his belt before he even stepped on campus, Mariscal wasn’t your average college student.

“His sense of humor, along with his amazing work ethic and his determination to work through his war injuries, has made him a role model,” said Kristin Arola, a digital technology professor who nominated Mariscal for the program’s Outstanding Senior of the Year award last spring.

Mariscal served two tours in Iraq with the Army’s 1st Infantry Division and led an infantry squad in numerous high-profile forays. He experienced eight IED (improvised explosive device) or rocket-propelled grenade explosions that left him with migraines and memory loss.

“I’m glad I came to WSU when I did,” he said. “I understand now what a college degree can do for me and where I can take my new education. Had I come here straight out of high school, I wouldn’t have had the right attitude to succeed.”

He arrived with the intention of earning a business degree, but high-level math no longer came easy to him. He credits his Fine Arts 101 class for his newfound passion in animation and “showing me I had artistic potential and could actually draw.”

His maturity and leadership experience contributed to his success as a teaching assistant for DTC 355, a multimedia authoring course, and he is considering pursuing a master’s in education in the future.

Outside of class, Mariscal mentors students in the CAMP and TRIO programs, reminding them of important deadlines, helping them work through social and academic issues, and paying forward the critical support that he received during his first semesters in Pullman.

He is a trained emergency medical services responder and a drill sergeant in the Army Reserve, where he teaches civilians military protocol, basic combat skills, and the importance of teamwork. He is past president of the nearly 30-member WSU Bowling Club.

Mariscal recently married fellow Cougar Ashley Whitney, a criminal justice major who also will walk with the College of Arts and Sciences in the commencement ceremony Saturday.

As he enters the next chapter of his life, the anonymous poem on the cover of his Facebook page sums up Mariscal’s achievements:

He went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do.
He cried, pained and hoped but most of all he lived times never to be forgotten.