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Degree Programs

Puksta Scholars

Puksta Profiles

Puksta



Each year, we award the Puksta Scholarship to three 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.

 

Ian Parker

Year: Senior

Major(s): Piano Performance; Spanish

Social Justice Issue Area: Music Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I'm currently working to establish a written curriculum for a youth orchestra program in my home community. This program will model several programs in the nearby area (Denver) and originally in Venezuela.

Fatima Rezaie

Year: Senior

Major(s): International Studies; Psychology

Social Justice Issue Area: Youth and Education; Immigration and Refugees

Puksta Project Focus:

My social justice areas are immigration, refugee and international issues, and youth and education. Being an immigrant myself, topics related to immigration, refugees, and education have always been close to my heart. My Puksta project is access to higher education for refugee students, focusing on the students currently residing in Denver. My aim and hope is that through my Puksta project, I can provide them with the extra support and resources needed for continuing their education after high school.

Zac Roberts

Year: Junior

Major(s): Biology & Chemistry

Social Justice Issue Area: LGBTQIA Education

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project is an educational blog created for LGBT youth who are looking to gain information on things such as queer health, history, and lifestyle after high school. My hope is to help make students feel less isolated and alone, as well as educate youth on areas that the public school system refuses to address.

Cynthia Rodriguez

Year: Junior

Major(s): Accounting

Social Justice Area: Access to higher education for undocumented students.

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project for the past 2 years has revolved around the issue of immigration. In particular with undocumented youth and their ability to access secondary education. Through my project, I have been able to participate in the planning committees for both the Keeping the Dream Alive conference as well as DREAMers Day. As I prepared for my 3rd year and what that will look like in terms of my Puksta Project, I took on the opportunity to pitch in my idea for a mentorship program to and for those students who participated in the DREAMers Day and were interested in continuing a connection with college mentors who are also undocumented. Through DREAMers Day I was able to register over 50 students and my goal is to start the program this year. With this mentorship program, my goal is to reach as many students as possible and build a network where students can feel comfortable to talk about their status and/or anything they have concerns about.

 

Haseeb Rahat

Year: Junior

Major(s): Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Childhood Obesity

Puksta Project Focus:

As an aspiring doctor, I want to help children overcome the health challenges that hold them back from achieving their daily and lifelong dreams and goals. As we know, childhood and adolescent obesity has many side effects to one’s health like diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, various types of cancers, strokes, fractures and many more. Also, what you consume not only affects your health but also your social life. I want to help children prevent those side effects before it’s too late. As we all know, prevention is easier then treatment. This can be done by teaching children healthy and fun eating practices and physical activities that will help them overcome this challenge that the society faces today. Taking this into account, I plan to work with local community organizers in order to bring awareness among the youth and teach them healthy eating practices.

Mawukle Yebuah

Year: Junior

Major(s): International Business

Social Justice Issue Area: Access to Higher Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I chose the issue area of higher education access for African American males because it really connects with my background and the experiences I have had growing up. I feel that as a black male many of us fall through the cracks of the education system and the idea of going to college is not even something that is present to many young black males. Overall, as a black male in college I believe that it is my duty to help other black males to come to college and become successful.

Larcy Brooks

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Gender Studies; English (Creative Writing)

Social Justice Issue Area: LGBTQIA Youth

Puksta Project Focus:

I am devoted to the creation of safe and supportive spaces for young people from marginalized communities. In the past, I centered this idea specifically around health education for LGBTQIA youth, but moving forward, my project will shift in a broader sense to encompass more marginalized youth communities, and interact with another of my biggest passions: storytelling! I plan to partner with a Denver Metro High School to create a healthy community that advocates storytelling, embracing of personal identities, and creative expression (writing!) as a means of development, healing, and change-making. Long term, I hope that this would become a sustainable club at this school, and that we would have some performance event for the members of the group to share what they have created with their schools at large.
Alongside this project, I am also very passionate about creating intergenerational communities and relationships for marginalized people. This is particularly important to me with the LGBTQIA community, because I personally feel a disconnect from my elders, and the incredible and brave work they did during gay liberation movements and the AIDS Crisis. Part of the work I want to do while in Puksta is connecting young people from marginalized communities to their elders. This could possibly look like bringing well-established social change groups in the Denver area into contact with my project at schools.

Michael Chen

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Business Analytics

Social Justice Issue Area: Mental Disabilities

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project for this upcoming school year will involve hosting the "Spread the Word to End the Word" event at DU for the second consecutive year. In addition to that, it involves becoming more involved with Special Olympics Colorado throughout the school year and being available to volunteer for them at any needed events. At the end of the year, I would like to bring Puksta Scholars to a SOCO event and/or bring Special Olympic Athletes to the University of Denver to celebrate what they do and for their involvement and commitment to SOCO.

Laleobe Olaka

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Health and poverty

Puksta Project Focus:

This year I will be focusing on both community service research and academic research on different departments within Children's Hospital. My goal is to get an internship and work closely to the local patients.

Aaqil Anwar

Year: First-year

Major(s): International Business

Social Justice Issue Area:  Political Process and Access to Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I want my Puksta project to consist of providing access to secondary education for kids who are economically disadvantaged and marginalized. I believe that everyone no matter who they are should have the opportunity to go to college if they choose to. However currently in the real world only select few groups of people are able to access college as a result of the cost of it, and the lack of educational/counseling resources to groups who can't afford them. As a result this amount of our society is not allowed to pursue their dreams, and what they believe they need to do to be successful.

Caitlin Baum

Year: First-year

Major(s): Film Studies and Production

Social Justice Issue Area: LGBTQIA+ and Gender

Puksta Project Focus:

This year I plan to focus on issues within Denver’s LGBTQIA+ community. As these specific issues can span from gender-based violence and discrimination to an individual’s search for validation of identity, I haven’t yet discovered how best to address the needs of Denver’s queer community. However, having both personal and community experience with the issues surrounding society’s perception of sexual orientation and gender identity, I am passionate and ready to become a positive voice in my new Denver community.

Ramona Miller

Year: First-year

Major(s): Political Science

Social Justice Issue Area: Government Transparency

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project is still in its assembly stage. My goal will be to advocate better transparency within the government. The Project will start to take form once I can narrow a focus down from my Social Justice Issue Area.