On March 10, 2017 I—along with assistance from fellow Puksta Scholar, Patrycja Humienik—hosted a special reunification event at the Colorado Correctional Center (CCC) in Golden, Colorado. For the past two years, Patrycja and I have been volunteer co-facilitators with an organization called Democratic Communication Workshop. This program brings communication-based education to institutionalized men, women, and youth across five facilities in Colorado. While the needs and goals of our students all differ, we all share one goal—to use communication to connect, encourage, and facilitate safe and open discussion. At CCC, what this looks like is consistent creative writing development, practical public speaking skills, and the development of critical thinking skills through both creative and academic readings.
Teaching in a prison facility requires an awareness of the realities of institutionalized life; this includes the overwhelming and chronic isolation from loved ones. Family involvement during incarceration can be transformative and is a consistent theme that comes up during in class discussions and individual writing. However, some feedback we consistently get from our students is that routine visitation limits their ability to have quality family interaction. Therefore, my goal in organizing a family reunification event for my Puksta Fellowship project was to give our students the platform to practice practical communication skills that we work on in class while also being able to interact with their loved ones in a fun, relaxed, and welcoming environment. This full day event focused on celebrating the creative work produced by the men in our class and giving them the opportunity to share it with their loved ones.
On the day of the event, we had family from across Colorado arrive at CCC to share a catered lunch, play yard games, and to hear letters, poems, skits, and short stories prepared especially for them. There are not enough words to describe the significance of this day for our students and their families. As the wife of one of our students said, “this day made us feel like a regular family again”. I want to warmly thank each of the family members in attendance for their commitment, strength, vulnerability, and support of both their loved one and of our program. We were honored to be a part of your family for a day.
Attention Puksta Alumni!!! Please Help the Puksta Foundation and fill out our Alumni Survey – Promise it won’t take more than a few minutes!
As the Puksta Foundation has grown, so have our Puksta Alumni!
We want to bring life to our NEW website with the work you have done and continue to do! Also we will be hosting a variety of events over the summer and beyond – So we need to know how to contact you!!
Our goal now is to try to connect you all to one another, to inspire, and be a resource to each other. We know you all are out there making an incredible mark on this world and we want to celebrate it!
Each year, over 35 individuals and groups are recognized for their efforts in creating community at MSU Denver through the Student Involvement & Leadership Awards. The New Student Organization of the Year Award is presented to an organization in its first year of existence. The organization should bring something unique to campus life, demonstrate healthy risk-taking opportunities, and make a positive impact on the campus community.
Celeste Pegues’s organization, Sister to Sister (which is also her Puksta Project) won the New Student Organization of the Year award at the annual Student Involvement and Leadership Awards ceremony on April 13th of this year.
“Sister to Sister is a student organization that strives to assist minority women as MSU Denver with scholarship, college retention, mind and body wellness and community service. We tailor our workshops and services to the intersectionality that women of color face every day in their community and personal life. We provide a safe place for self-actualization, self-care and self-empowerment for minority women on their journey through their college experience.”
Puksta Scholar, Aria Dellepiane’s Puksta Project tackles the issue of sexual assault in the Boulder community.
This is a movement created with the idea that sexual assault can happen to anyone anywhere and anyone anywhere can take a stand. Check out the interactive reporting tool that maps out incidents of sexual assault in Boulder, CO. You can also view official police reports of sexual assault since 2005. Make a report or get connected to resources whether you are a survivor or someone who wants to take action and educate yourself and others! We hope to empower those who stand against sexual assault and aim to create a positive impact by giving survivors a voice and creating transparency about the prevalence of sexual assault in our community. Ultimately, our goal is to end rape culture by validating survivors’ experiences in order to stop the normalization of sexual assault in everyday language!
Ciera Blehm DU Puksta Scholar is hosting an event to shed light on sexual assault on campus.
Schedule of Events:
Dinner, 5-7PM at Carnegie Green
Speaker and Walk, 6:30PM to Driscoll Green
Green Light Go facilitated by Zeta Beta Tau, 7:30PM
Into the Light is an innovative approach to change campus culture around sexual assault. With FREE food, an amazing guest speaker, giveaways and consent games we plan to get the entire DU community involved in order to end sexual assault on our campus. We hope to see you there!
January 21st proved to be an eye-opening experience for various communities throughout the United States due to the Women’s March. One such community that participated in the Women’s March on Denver was the DU Puksta Scholars Program as a result of the annual Puksta Foundation Intercollegiate Retreat taking place that weekend. Scholars from DU and four other universities marched in support of various communities that have been marginalized following events that have taken place over the last couple of months. For many scholars, the Women’s March was their first community action. “It was amazing to be able to see so many people take the time out of their day to come together and express their opposition to the marginalization of various communities,” said Larcy Brooks a fourth -year Puksta Scholar. While for many scholars the Women’s March on Denver proved to be the highlight of the weekend, there was still an entire retreat to attend.
Following the Women’s March, Puksta Scholars from every university came back to the Wells Fargo building on Lincoln Street to partake in various seminars in order to build skills and develop closer relationships with their counterparts from different schools. Roudy Hildreth, the Puksta coordinator for the University of Colorado (CU), officially kicked off the retreat with a seminar challenging every scholar to focus on the story of themselves, their Puksta project and attempting to frame the story in a community perspective. Furthermore, CCESL’s very own Ryan Hanschen introduced scholars to the concept of a One2One and encouraged scholars to engage with their roommates in an attempt to better get to know each other. Finally, Katharine Worms of Colorado State University led scholars in an activity highlighting identity and the idea of socialization throughout one’s own life.
The characteristic that makes Puksta different from other scholarship foundations is the sense of family and belonging. This was demonstrated on Saturday night through the alumni panel which included three DU and one CU alumni who provided current scholars with their insights into “life after Puksta.” This proved to be a useful experience for many first-years, including Oscar Saenz who said, “I am truly grateful and humbled to be a Puksta Scholar after seeing what previous scholars have gone on to do from a community organizing perspective. Puksta really is a lifestyle.” Following dinner, all of the DU Puksta Scholars went to Lucky Strike to play various arcade games, compliments of the Puksta Foundation. Sunday morning had a more somber and relaxed tone due to the fact that various scholars realized that the retreat was coming to an end. A presentation provided of self-care and mental awareness was led by Cody Wiggs, another DU Puksta alumni. This presentation provided helpful insight into how scholars can take care of themselves and channel all of their energy into focusing on the things in front of them rather than getting caught up on things in the future.
Following the presentation of self-care and awareness, Puksta Foundation President John Mulstay addressed the scholars with words of wisdom about the retreat along with the history that was made the previous day at the Women’s March on Denver. Scholars rejoiced and celebrated what was arguably the most successful Intercollegiate Puksta Retreat to date.
Our amazing scholars at CSU put on a very special event to showcase the work they have done with their projects. It was a beautiful and inspiring night, where potential future scholars and outside guests were given the opportunity to learn of the wonderful work these scholars are doing in our communities. David Purcella presented on his work with children who have disabilities and introducing them to service dogs. When the two connect it helps them overcome their struggles and gain confidence. Eduardo Hernandez expressed his passion for having a place for kids to go after school and how much that had help him growing up with parents working. Bailey Cross talked about her upcoming production of “The Blank Monologues” for the second year in a row!!! The enthusiasm and excitement in the room left for a very heartwarming and fulfilling evening.