DJ Close is one of our Alumni and Advisory Board members. He works with United Way as a Program Manager for their Reading Corps program. They were in the Denver Post for their extreme success that the program is having with children and literacy. Congrats DJ and keep up the great work!
Marco Dorado, a Puksta Scholar at CU, made it into the Colorado Daily. He is an advocate for undocumented students, and is a true inspiration.
“I think the mark I want to leave at CU is for it to be a place of inclusion,” he said. “Before I came to CU, I was just kind of living in the shadows. When I got here — people looked beyond my status. It’s not just about being a place of inclusion for people who are undocumented, but for those who come from all kinds of different backgrounds. I want this to be a place about valuing people for who they are as opposed to judging them for things that are out of their control.”
Bryant Mason, founder of Urban Farms, is one of our Puksta alumni from CU. His project was to help people create sustainable food through personal gardens. He now has evolved that vision into a career. Urban Farms has recently gained a contract with developers in Stapleton to offer homebuyers raised-bed gardens for their front yards or backyards.
Our CSU Puksta Scholars went on a service trip to Nicaragua for 2 weeks. While in Nicaragua, they will be volunteering with Arms of Love Children’s Home and the Center for Development in Central America.
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Esmeralda Rodriguez is graduating with a degree in social work and a 3.5 GPA. She will also be the first person to graduate from college in her family. During her time at CSU, Rodiguez has participated in several clubs and events including the Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, The Matthews House, Key Academics, the President’s Leadership Program, CSU/UADY Leadership Program, El Centro First Year Peer Mentoring Program, Council for Opportunity in Education Leadership Program, Residence Hall Tour Guide, NASPA Undergraduate Felloes Program, Triunfo, Ram Welcome Leader, the Daniels Fund and the Puksta Scholar program.
She also studied abroad at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom in the summer of 2009 and the University of Barcelona, Spain for the 2012 spring semester. Rodriguez has been recognized as the CSU Junior Leader of the Year, the 20120 Sorority Woman of the Year for Outstanding Campus Involvement and the 2012 Colorado TRIO student representative for the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 32nd Annual policy seminar in Washington D.C. After graduation, Rodriguez will search for jobs where she can help unrepresented students go to college as well as travel abroad while she has the time.
Meet our first Puksta Highlighted Scholar!
University of Denver Puksta Scholar
Major: International Business
Minor: Legal Studies
Community Partner Organization:
I work with high school counselors in the Denver area.
Social Justice Issue Area:
I care about making higher education more accessible for undocumented students. The current immigration system marginalizes undocumented students to the point that college can become unreachable for them. In fact, undocumented students often have to pay much higher tuition rates than traditional students, which often discourages them from pursuing their goals. In my experience, college is possible for undocumented students, but they have to be very strategic about how they raise the necessary funds for tuition. This experience is one of the reasons why I’m currently mentoring undocumented students. I mentor them because I want to show them that college is possible regardless of the high amount of money that they will have raise in order to attend it. This encouragement will keep talented undocumented students from giving up on their dreams.
In the next few years, I want to further develop my mentoring program so I can reach more students who need advice about college access. This part, however, is only the early phase of my larger Puksta Project. I eventually want to start a foundation that will help undocumented students reach their goals of attending college by gifting scholarships. It is unjust to nurture undocumented students’ talent to later tell them that college is financially unreachable for them. My foundation will help bring justice to this issue. In essence, my foundation will help to alleviate the financial burden that young undocumented students have to deal with and will be a source of hope for them.