Last week, friends, family, supporters, and Metropolitan State University Puksta Scholars gathered together via video chat to celebrate another *virtual* Puksta Passages event (and Pizza Party)!
The celebration began with the introduction of our newest MSU Puksta scholars, Emanuel Walker and Manna Naumann. We are thrilled to have these amazing individuals join the Puksta Family, and we look forward seeing how they engage with their campus and communities in the years ahead!
The final part of the MSU Passage was dedicated to our graduating MSU seniors, Jennifer Cassidy, Angelica Prisciliano, and Cicilia Saenz. In addition to their fellow Pukstas, Puksta Coordinators and MSU staff joined in as audience members to cheer them on.
Jennifer completed an individualized degree program in Women’s Studies. As a benefactor of the TANF Gateway program, Jennifer sought to ensure that others, specifically people who have experienced interpersonal violence, have the ability to better control their future. For her Puksta project, she explored ways to get computers and related gear to the very people and communities that often have the most difficulty in acquiring these much-needed tools.
Angelica majored in Political Science with a concentration in Public Affairs. She is actively involved in work that empowers and advocates for students regardless of immigration status. Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently allows around 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors to live and work in the United States. Angelica’s Puksta Project built a strong, student-led network of higher education resources for DACAmented/undocumented communities through United Leaders in Higher Education.
Cicilia majored in Special Education with a concentration in CLD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education). She spent her time as a Puksta working to improve special education outcomes for underrepresented communities. This included teaching students and parents how to use what was offered to them, and to help improve their academic outcome. Cicilia’s Puksta work also supported awareness of suicide prevention resources for youths and college males in particular.
MSU Puksta Coordinator Alyssa Marks and former Coordinator Tim Meeks reflected on the growth and accomplishments of Jennifer, Angelica, and Cicilia over the course of their years at Puksta, as well as their ongoing work as change-makers engaging in work to truly make the world a better place for all. Fellow scholars also shared favorite memories and moments of our graduating seniors.
Presenting senior Puksta Scholars with a graduation cord is traditional part of Puksta Passages. However, as the ceremony was moved to a remote format, we had to get creative. Executive Director John Mulstay and Director of Development and Community Outreach NiChel Mulstay arranged for Jennifer, Angelica, and Cicilia to receive their cords at home, and virtually presented the cords to the scholars, congratulating each of them on their accomplishments and thanking them for their meaningful work as Puksta Scholars.
We are truly blown away by the level of creativity, compassion, and forward-thinking demonstrated in each of our graduating and continuing scholars’ projects, as well as their continued commitment to having a positive impact on their communities. Our scholars at DU are mentors, social justice warriors, and advocates for a more equitable world, and we couldn’t be more proud of them!
Thank you to all of the scholars, as well as our supportive attendees, for making this ceremony a success, and for being part of an evening of love and laughter. We’re so proud of all of our scholars– incoming, current, and graduating– and are grateful to have opportunities like this to celebrate, even if it’s virtually for now! This year’s MSU Puksta Passage truly demonstrated that, in spite of the various challenges and uncertainties we’re all currently facing, Puksta is Love.
Best of luck to Jennifer, Angelica, and Cicilia in your journeys ahead, and thank you for being a part of our Puksta Family, now and always.