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Degree Programs

Puksta Scholars

Puksta Profiles

Puksta15-16

Each year, DU awards the Puksta Scholarship to six first-year students with Colorado state residency and financial need.

The program allows these students to get a college education and develop a civic identity and commitment to service. 

Zac Roberts

Year: Senior

Major(s): Chemistry

Social Justice Issue Area: LGBT Youth Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I will be managing a website aimed at educating LGBT youth and creating an online space where kids can go to talk about their identities, ask the questions no one else will answer, and get advice from those who have had similar experiences. 

Cynthia Rodriguez

Year: Senior

Major(s): Accounting

Social Justice Area: Access to Higher Education for Undocumented Students

Puksta Project Focus:

For this coming year, my main Puksta project goal is to continue to have a successful mentorship program. I also hope to be able to have a conference in the spring to bring the girls to campus and have different workshops for them. 

Haseeb Rahat

Year: Senior

Major(s): Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Healthcare

Puksta Project Focus:

For the past two years, I have gotten the opportunity to research with an incredible team of physicians at Children's Hospital Colorado. I have been researching Iatrogenic Adrenal Insufficiency in Eosinophilic Esophagitis patients due to Swallowed Topical Steroids. I have continuously collected data retrospectively, collected new data through surveys and interpersonal relationships with the patients and their families in order to further strengthen the positive treatment of these children. I feel as if I have a certain responsibility to these patients and this community in order to better their quality of life. Through our project, we are hoping to further educate the medical community and prevent such life-threatening conditions from occurring within these children.

Mawukle Yebuah

Year: Senior

Major(s): International Business

Social Justice Issue Area: Higher Education Access for Black Males

Puksta Project Focus:

This year my project will work to organize the annual Black Male Initiative Summit as well as continue to grow the Scholars Program. 

MICHAEL CHEN

Year: Senior

Major(s): Business Data Analytics; Computer Science

Social Justice Issue Area: Higher Education Access for Mentally Disabled Youth

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta project for the coming year will involve working towards educating those who are mentally disabled and their families about access to higher education. 

Larcy Brooks

Year: Junior

Major(s): English; Spanish

Social Justice Issue Area: LGBT Rights

Puksta Project Focus:

I hope to create a bank of lesson plans for college and high school Gay Straight Alliances that can be used to teach the younger generation of LGBT people about our history, our victories, our art, our leaders, and our lives. I hope to bridge gaps between generations in our communities. I then hope to share these lesson plans through a state-wide organization to encourage awareness and celebration of our past.

Laleobe Olaka

Year: Junior

Major(s): Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Education

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta project for this year is the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students. Our goal is to provide resources and opportunities for minority students who want to go into medicine. 

Aaqil Anwar

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Finance

Social Justice Issue Area: Access to Higher Education

Puksta Project Focus: 

I want to make sure that every kid that wants to pursue a degree in higher education has the ability to do so. Many people take college for granted when it is an immense privilege that not everyone has. I want to make sure that everyone is able to realize the same benefits of getting a college degree because there is no price you can put on an education.

Caitlin Baum

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Film Studies and Production

Social Justice Issue Area: LGBTQIA+ and Gender Issues

Puksta Project Focus:

Though a valuable storytelling medium and a huge cultural influence, the current (particularly mainstream) film industry is still lacking in accurate and diverse representation of the queer community. This year, I hope to work with local community partners to facilitate a film festival featuring the work of queer filmmakers of different ages, backgrounds, and experience levels. I plan to reach out to youth coordinators at Rainbow Alley and film programs at local high schools to encourage submissions from queer youth, in particular. My vision is that by opening up more opportunities within the community to be an active hand in their own representation, LGBTQ+ filmmakers will feel empowered to use their voices, tell their stories, and find pride in every aspect of their identities. 

andrea bonilla

Year: First-year

Major(s): Computer Science

Social Justice Issue Area: Domestic Violence

Puksta Project Focus:

Since I am a first-year Puksta Scholar, I am focusing on finding as much information as possible about my issue - domestic violence. I will be getting a lot of information like statistics, plus certain events, contacts, and impacts that an organization has done about DV. These organizations will be in the Denver Metro Area. 

daniela medina caro

Year: First-year

Major(s): Business Management

Social Justice Issue Area: Immigration

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta project consists of acknowledging and helping undocumented students overcome emotional barriers in regards to being undocumented and trying to achieve higher education. This includes, but is not limited to, the personal essay required by colleges, asking for scholarships specific to undocumented students, and being able to admit that they are undocumented. 

brendan teck

Year: First-year

Major(s): Game Development & Emergent Digital Practices

Social Justice Issue Area: Asian Americans in Higher Education

Puksta Project Focus:

This year I just plan on focusing on the research for my project. My hopes are to not only become an expert on my topic but also discover what it is exactly that I want to do for my project. 

allison grossberg

Year: First-year

Major(s): Psychology; Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Structural Systems that Discourage Exploration, Curiosity, and Creativity 

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta project in an investigation of the transformative power of creativity, curiosity, and exploration on both individual and cultural levels. 

Ciera blehm

Year: First-year

Major(s): Public Policy; International Studies

Social Justice Issue Area: Social Intolerance

Puksta Project Focus:

I will be working on researching and identifying gaps within K-12 and college-level education in relation to social intolerance. I want to figure out a method in which I can create a program that focuses on character-building to decrease the occurrence of intolerance within the academic environment. 

emina mujezin

Year: First-year

Major(s): Molecular Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Healthcare

Puksta Project Focus:

This upcoming year I will be researching the issues surrounding young people and healthcare. I will explore various factors (diet, exercise, nutrition, vaccinations, checkups, etc.) and narrow it down in order to encourage health and well-being.