Breaking new ground

Brianne Arviso’s challenging journey to an advanced construction degree prepares her to cultivate Native American heritage within the profession.

One of few Native American women with an advanced construction degree could help enrich the industry’s cultural landscape

Brianne Arviso could have easily stepped into an entry-level job in the construction industry after graduating from high school.

At that time, the Arviso Construction Company, started by her grandfather, Olsen Arviso Sr., had been in business for more than two decades. Her father, uncles and aunts worked for the company, headquartered near Gallup, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation.

“I grew up with the company being a big part of my world,” she says.

Still, Arviso remembers feeling the pull of a higher calling. To start with, she wanted to go to college.

Brianne Arviso wearing a traditional Navajo rug dress along with her gown for the Spring 2022 ceremony.
Along with her gown for the Spring 2022 ceremony celebrating recent graduates of Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering doctoral programs, Brianne Arviso wore a traditional Navajo rug dress, called a Biil, which signifies Mother Earth, Father Sky and the Universe. Wearing a Biil means a woman is in “Hozho” which means peace, balance, beauty and harmony, and represents one of the Navajo deities, Changing Woman, who created the Navajo people. The rug dress was made for Arviso and gifted to her by her friend Craig Spencer and his family. The turquoise jewelry is a staple of Navajo identity that reflects ties to the Navajo deities and land, and to one another.
Photo courtesy of Brianne Arviso for Full Circle