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!

Class of 2018 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Alondra Palomino

Alondra has seen firsthand the struggles of the undocumented and as a first-generation citizen and new CU Boulder graduate, endeavored to eliminate many of the barriers that undocumented parents often experience when working to assist their children in the college application process. Leading a series of bi-weekly workshops, Alondra worked to create a safe space existed and where an open dialogue about a number of related topics was encouraged. This not only helped to demystify the college application process but offered a badly needed support resource for undocumented parents seeking a brighter future for their children. Furthermore, she worked to create a partnership with the Lafayette Peer Empowerment Project (LPEP) and have high school students facilitate this function after her departure from CU. Alondra is expanding the horizons of those struggling to realize the “American Dream” and the Puksta Foundation commends her for both her efforts and her accomplishments. Cheers to you Alondra!

Class of 2019 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Emina Mujezin

Having grown up within a community that didn’t promote healthy eating and perpetuated a belief that college was just simply financially unattainable, Emina endeavored to change these perceptions and promote student health and wellness on the DU campus. Forging a path of “inclusive excellence”, Emina led a nutrition program for her fellow students in which she also worked to promote fitness. Finding support in her local community and seeking solutions within a business context, Emina hopes to give back by developing a holistic approach that benefits to both the body and finances of those that have given her so much. Educating oneself can be challenging, but enriching others through academics and the promotion of financial planning is a challenge that Emina seems more than capable of accomplishing, especially her recent graduation. We celebrate your hard work and the promise you will bring to so many. Congratulations Emina!

Class of 2018 Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Kiri Michelle

Eating healthy and regularly is often a silent obstacle for many students and Kiri worked diligently to remove this barrier for her fellow CSU scholars in a two-pronged approach. Not only did she have a “Freedge” (“Free + Fridge”) installed in one of the dorms, but also stocked a communal refrigerator in one of the student apartments buildings with free organic produce. Often prohibitively expensive for students, these goods were sourced from the CSU campus horticulture center, thereby creating a unique system where CSU students benefitted themselves. Not only did she provide students with nutritious food, Kiri removed a cost-barrier that is often present with organic produce. As an undergrad, she worked to expand the project to the entire campus and now envisions substantially eliminating student food access barriers as a graduate. Kiri is a shining star within the Puksta ranks and we are proud of the work she has done and will do. Cheers to you Kiri!