Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Helina Zemede

The future is online and those who either lack access to it, or who don’t have access to the necessary tools within it, will struggle to raise themselves up and find fulfillment. Helina combated homelessness with technology by constructing a resource database that assisted the impoverished and helped to provide structure and stability for many. Having graduated, she plans to continue expanding this work and bringing her energy back to the Puksta Boulder family in a variety of ways. Helina, the light you bring to those who are constantly confounded by darkness makes us proud that you are a star within our Puksta family. We raise our glasses to your achievements!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Jhovani Becerra

Barriers have always been a problem for Jhovani. Barriers that stood in his way during his journey to this country and those that threatened to prevent him in his quest for an education. Having been an undocumented immigrant, he was exposed to the obstacles and challenges that many are unaware of and vowed to make things better for this silent population. During his time in university, Jhovani worked to tear these barriers down for not only for himself but for those who have also shared his experiences. Working in high schools to advocate for and guide younger students, Jhovani encouraged a path towards higher education and endeavored to assist and empower those who joined him on campus as fellow college students. Having graduated, he intends to continue his journey within institutions where skewed cultural traditions have created a disciplinary disparity for many who are simply seeking a better life. You have and continue to make us proud of your work and achievements. Congratulations and best wishes to you Jhovani!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Rob Hatcher

Very little could be considered traditional about this non-traditional future graduate of CU Denver. Having a background in media and nonprofit work, Rob spent his undergraduate years working on achieving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Event Management. His second love, however, became his driving passion as he realized that he could bring his non-traditional perspectives to the people through performance poetry. Working towards engaging bias and enlightening minds on a more personal level, Rob endeavored to connect with his fellow students and the Denver public through expressive art. After graduating with a Masters in Communication, he intends to either work in the nonprofit sector or pursue his newly discovered passion for teaching. Congratulations Rob!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Senika O’Connor

Inclusivity has been a major area of concentration for Senika. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked towards creating an intersection of race and culture while endeavoring to expose and address microaggressions in the K-12 educational system. On a lifetime journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, Senika always stood out and experienced obstacles that she hoped to dissolve for those who followed after her. She intends to continue working within the educational arena, post-graduation and plans to keep seeking meaningful ways of breaking down barriers and dispelling injustice for those aspiring towards similar goals. Your achievements make us proud that you are a part of our family Senika. Cheers to you!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Daniela Caro

Daniela is a student who is no stranger to hard work. Having achieved residency, this new CU Denver grad was heavily active in encouraging others to be politically active in this country. Daniela spent considerable time educating those in both her community and within her college about how valuable being able to vote actually is. In addition to attending rallies and becoming politically literate herself, she collaborated with numerous individuals and groups within the campus, which greatly enhanced her interpersonal skills. Now that she’s graduated, Daniela intends to continue working with a university group with whom she’d been previously associated: Road to Distinction. She also intends to continue her activity with a variety of non-profits like DSF and Volunteers in Partnership. A true champion of civic discourse, Daniela is a voice of empowerment and an advocate of agency that makes her star shine brighter than most. Puksta is proud to have both your energy and voice in the world and you within their ranks. Cheers to you!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Erin Rooney

Like a piece looking for the right puzzle, Erin found the Puksta Foundation and joined because she believed it would be a good fit. Similarly, she worked to help the incarcerated find their “fit” within society by assisting them with obtaining the skills and tools necessary for a life they might be either unaccustomed too or unprepared for. Not only did she help inmates hone their interview skills, but she also solicited donations of professional clothing that is so badly needed for the interview process. Now that she has graduated, Erin will look into creating her own non-profit that will expand on this concept, helping many to obtain that second chance they might not have otherwise. Not only did she become a valuable piece within the Puksta picture, but she also helped to make the lives of many much more hopeful and prosperous. Hooray to you Erin!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: David Campos-Cardenas

DACA was a passion of David’s in his time in college. Working to embolden and educate the undocumented students of his university, he participated with both DSF and the MSU Dreamers Network while also educating the MSU faculty to the struggles and challenges that they often face. Inspired by having walked in the shoes of these students, David leaves big ones to fill as he continues his work post-graduation and seeks to continue imparting education and empowerment in equal measures. Looking towards a professional future in the financial sector, he is sure to make a significant impact in the world, he certainly has at MSU. Congratulations David!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Tolbert

Graduating with a Master’s in Communication, our Puksta family is proud to present this amazing woman who endeavored and will continue to dissolve the barriers of gender within the workplace. Engaging in studies intended to benefit the gendered discriminated within the business world, Stephanie engaged in strategic partnerships, combed through countless university staff training manuals, and conducted numerous academically based discussions in the effort to reveal a better professional environment and path for those who are often silenced and marginalized because of their gender or non-binary identity. An exhibitor of great internal strength and persistence, she ascends from CU Denver to champion the victims of sexism and work to forge a more equitable world for everyone. Puksta celebrates your achievements Stephanie. Congratulations on your accomplishments!

Class of 2018 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Herrera

Identity proved to become a call to action for Stephanie. Arriving in this country with bright eyes and optimistic ambition, she worked to overcome adversity and pursue her DACA dreams while also discovering ways of contributing to her community. During her undergraduate years, she invested time and energy not only into her studies but also into working with undocumented high school students so that they might also seek their dreams within the academic halls of a university. Stephanie intends to take a brief break now that she’s graduated and then make the big push to grad school where the stars will be the only limit. This is fitting, as she already is one within the Puksta family. Best wishes for the future and congratulations for shining so brightly. Cheers to you Stephanie!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Monica Simpson

Both humble and noble, Monica is the first to say that her background is nothing truly remarkable from her fellow non-traditional students, but her work at MSU was and will continue to truly be outstanding. During her time at university, Monica worked to create a community and establish an empowering support network for her fellow seasoned students. Her hard work is carrying on past graduation as she will bring The Wisdom Collective to the campus in order to better serve the unique needs of students who are bringing their life experiences to their higher education. Puksta celebrates you Monica. We offer you well deserved congratulations!