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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. 

Aaqil Anwar

Year: Senior

Major(s): Finance

Social Justice Issue Area: Islamophobia within Higher Education

Puksta Project Focus: 

I am creating systems through which people are able to learn about Muslims and Islam from an objective and non-biased perspective so that they can come up with their own perceptions individually. Being a Muslim American, I feel like it is my duty to speak out against Islamophobia as it spreads because it affects various communities and not just Muslims.

andrea bonilla

Year: Junior

Major(s): Psychology; Criminology

Social Justice Issue Area: Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Puksta Project Focus:

I am bringing awareness to high school students through presentations so they can go into college knowing about the effects and prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence. I have been working in a police department for a long time and have seen the impact it has on survivors of abuse.

daniela medina caro

Year: Junior

Major(s): Business Management

Social Justice Issue Area: Undocumented Students Accessing Higher Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I am working with low-income and/or undocumented high school students to establish relationships that focus on their emotional/mental health needs when accessing higher education or military service. My own background as an undocumented student inspired me to choose my Puksta Project because I could have used a mentor to guide me on the emotional aspect of accessing higher education.

brendan teck

Year: Junior

Major(s): Emergent Digital Practices & Strategic Communication

Social Justice Issue Area: Access to Higher Education

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project is focused on providing tools and resources for Southeast Asian Americans to access higher education. This year, I hope to begin working towards developing a new pre-collegiate program that will invite Southeast Asian high school students to DU, providing them with different resources to navigate the college application process.

allison grossberg

Year: Junior

Major(s): Psychology; International Studies

Social Justice Issue Area: Education 

Puksta Project Focus:

I am gathering as much research as possible about the benefits and biological underpinnings of curiosity as well as its connection with human compassion and empathy. I hope to share this work in an effort to increase peoples' ability to be curious and compassionate global learners and citizens who give more to the world than they take.  

Ciera blehm

Year: Junior

Major(s): Socio-legal Studies; Business Information and Analytics

Social Justice Issue Area: Gender Based Violence

Puksta Project Focus:

I am working towards establishing changes to existing sexual assault processes and procedures in university settings, as well as establishing a network of other universities that could implement/engage in these changes to improve students' experiences. This year, I am planning Into the Light, an event to raise awareness on sexual assault and to help educate.

emina mujezin

Year: Junior

Major(s): Accounting

Social Justice Issue Area: Healthcare & Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I am promoting healthy living and preventative care for refugees and migrants through partnerships with doctors and community hearth screenings. I also hope to expand my knowledge of the healthcare system and explore more ways of helping all people be able to afford reasonable healthcare. For the upcoming year, I hope to help members in my community get much needed health check ups. I will also be working with my university as well as the business school to encourage inclusive excellence.

james artis III

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Hospitality Management

Social Justice Issue Area: Criminal Justice

Puksta Project Focus:

I am passionate about ending all kinds of violence whether that be black on black, police, or street violence. This year I'm getting in contact with the Black Lives Mat ter organization and any or all organization that aim toward limiting violence in our community. This year I plan on working with high schools and their brotherhood program. I am on the programming board for the new Brotherhood summit that's working with the Cherry Creek School District. Our goal is to help students understand, find and navigate their identity.

ismaat klaibou

Year: Second-year

Major(s): International Studies

Social Justice Issue Area: Rights for Muslim Women

Puksta Project Focus:

I'm focusing on Muslim women being more active/engaged in their communities and building relationships and space to not be judged. I just want to make a small enough difference in someone's life that it inspires them to help someone else and continue the cycle. I want to be the beginning of a domino effect of amazing work by youth and others for years to come.

oscar saenz

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Marketing

Social Justice Issue Area: Education Barriers for Low-income and Immigrant Families

Puksta Project Focus:

I'm focusing on Muslim women being more active/engaged in their communities and building relationships and space to not be judged. I just want to make a small enough difference in someone's life that it inspires them to help someone else and continue the cycle. I want to be the beginning of a domino effect of amazing work by youth and others for years to come.

blanche marie ndoutou

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Criminology 

Social Justice Issue Area: Refugees

Puksta Project Focus:

I plan to work with refugees in Denver. I want to hear their experiences coming to the US and to help them better adapt to the US. I came to the US as a refugee. I experienced the difficulty of waiting for so long in a country at war just to get travel papers. I also know the difficulty of moving to an unfamiliar place with strangers and a different culture. I noticed that many refugees I lived with back in my country did not get help from the government. Also, in the US, my family was left alone after three months; we had to take care of ourselves even thought we didn't speak English. My Puksta Project for this year is to use the organization I co-created on campus, African Students United, in order to reach out to African Community Center and work with them. I would like to start by contacting ACC and asking them how myself and my organization could best create a change. I want to do some volunteering works with ACC throughout the year.

chhorda vuth

Year: Second-year

Major(s): Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Immigration and Education

Puksta Project Focus:

I am creating a mentorship program for immigrant students to help them adapt and learn English faster. I experienced the same challenge that many recent immigrant students face which is adapting to American culture and learning and communicating in English. Five years ago, I wished that I had a mentor or a support program to help me with my challenges, but unfortunately, I had to figure out how to help myself on my own. I want to help immigrant students with those challenges.

Alex Aleman

Year: First-year

Major(s): Business Management

Social Justice Issue Area: Youth Health Care Issues

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project is to grow Healthy Kids in Action, a free summer exercise program for low income kids. Healthy Kids in Action has impacted over 100 students kids in the Perl Mack community. I hope to grow Healthy Kids in Action by incorporating a component for parents where they will learn about the importance of healthy eating and exercising and by incorporating a youth mentoring component where kids will be motivated and inspired to go to college.

Oliver Martinez-reyes

Year: First-year

Major(s): Accounting

Social Justice Issue Area: Education and Economic Development for First Generation Students

Puksta Project Focus:

I plan to mentor a high school students who are first generation and/or low-income and who are undecided about both their educational and economic careers. Through my mentorship, I want to expose mentees to resources and opportunities that they may benefit from.

LuciA Ramirez

Year: First-year

Major(s): Accounting, French

Social Justice Issue Area: Education 

Puksta Project Focus:

My Puksta Project for the upcoming academic year will concentrate on equity within education resources across communities.

Lumiere Sidonie

Year: First-year

Major(s): International Studies

Social Justice Issue Area: Education and Refugees

Puksta Project Focus:

Maggie Soltero-Gutierrez

Year: First-year

Major(s): Biology

Social Justice Issue Area: Healthcare

Puksta Project Focus:

After having witnessed a financial health emergency with my family, I have been motivated to help others learn about the healthcare system and insurance we have today. My Puksta Project is to make minority groups more aware of insurances that are available to help those underprivileged or with low income be able to pay for their medical bills, medicine, appointments, etc. It's important that we take care of ourselves and know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Your health is a priority.

Evan Utzman-Nichols

Year: First-year

Major(s): Psychology

Social Justice Issue Area: Gender Based Violence

Puksta Project Focus:

My project is focusing on sexual assaults on college campuses with a concentration on perpetrators. I want to focus on policy and consequences that perpetrators of sexual assault face and make sure that these policies are well known to the student body. I believe that through an increased knowledge surrounding the regulations and policy on sexual assault the likelihood of a potential perpetrator to commit an act of sexual violence will be reduced due to fear or consequence. Currently I am researching different policies towards perpetrators and methodology to prevention of sexual assaults on college campus.

Aliyah Williams

Year: First-year

Major(s): Psychology and Criminology

Social Justic Issue Area: Mental Health

Puksta Project Focus:

My project will be a program or service that educates people about the seriousness of mental health. I want my project to take place not only in conventional settings, but also in different environments such as prisons or different economic areas.