Puksta Alumni Spotlight: David Chiu ’08

Today’s featured Puksta Scholar is David Chiu, a member of the 2008 Puksta Scholar Cohort at CU Boulder. David’s Puksta project established a water quality monitoring program in Left Hand Canyon, Boulder County, to aid in environmental restoration of areas impacted by historic mining activity. His goals in the program were to meet similar like-minded people that shared a passion for helping others and improving our communities. Another goal of David identified was to learn tools and strategies for implementing sustainable and measurable civic service projects.

David is currently living in Bothell, Washington and works as an analytical scientist for Seattle Genetics, a pharmaceutical company focused on cancer therapies. Regarding his Puksta experience and how it connects to his current work, David shared his reflections on how the Puksta program gave him the confidence to lead a large project outside of the confines of the classroom. The scholars, staff, and advisors, he added, provided him with a positive and supportive network of individuals that helped him through challenging times. Through his Puksta experience, David says, “I was able to improve my mental fortitude, empathy, organizational skills, and had doors opened for me that continue to benefit me throughout my life.”

We also asked David to share any advice for current scholars or alumni. He offered these words of wisdom:

Identify your dream that you are passionate about. Develop a plan to achieve that dream. You will encounter setbacks, but have the self-confidence to believe in yourself and the determination to achieve those goals. We all change as people and our dreams change as well so stay true to yourself and focus on things that you are passionate about.

Life has a strange way of working out. Maybe you interview for a job and don’t get it, but then you see a new posting for the job of your dreams. Maybe you buy a shiny new car, but end up crashing it and hurting yourself. Live in the moment, don’t dwell on the past and don’t try to predict the future. If you carry yourself with humility, respect, and integrity, good things will happen.

Thank you for taking the time to share this update with us, as well as your reflections on your Puksta experience, David!

We love hearing from our scholars, past and present! If you have an update to share or a recent accomplishment to celebrate, let us know! Email Sarah Thomas at sthomas0519@gmail.com with your news!


20 years ago today, John Mulstay, fulfilled a wish and a promise to Harry and Eva Puksta and founded the Puksta Foundation! How Harry and Eva had the amazing foresight to chose John for this incredible task, we may never know. But, 20 years later it is clear they knew what they were doing.

The Puksta Foundation has come to be an incredible part of so many lives across this world, from the current scholars now, the alumni who carry the spirit of Puksta within them wherever they go, the coordinators that were willing to breathe their magic into our programs across all of our campuses, to the volunteers and anyone who has met one of our amazing scholars/alumni and everyone that has been touched by one of their Puksta Projects.

This foundation has definitely found the “Good Kids of the Community and given them the opportunity to get a college education” and so much more.

Thank you John, for founding this amazing foundation on the wishes of Harry and Eva! You have created a place of love and support to foster learning, community, and growth!

And thank you to everyone who has been a part of Puksta over the last 20 years! You have all touched and left your mark on this foundation and it would not be what it is without all of you! Let’s celebrate each other and keep the ripple going!

Happy 20th Anniversary Puksta!!!


Puksta Scholars Celebrate International Women’s Day

In celebration of of International Women’s Day, the Denver Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) hosted a panel event on Wednesday March 4 exploring struggles, identity, and attending college from a woman of color’s point of view. 

The following is a brief synopsis of the event from Metro State University Puksta Scholar and event panelist Betty Tewodros:

The panel was a discussion with GALS students on gender equality, work-life balance, personal improvement, and mainly the differences between white feminism and what feminism means for women of color. Feminism is the opposite of sexism: it is a right to be yourself, it is a right to choose and live your life the way you deserve, and it is about equality. We also talked about how men can be feminist too, and it doesn’t have to be gender-divided because people identify as different genders.

MSU Puksta Scholars Karen Nunez and Ari Gibson, as well as Puksta Director of Development and Community Outreach NiChel Mulstay, were also in attendance at the lunch succession to meet with some of the high school students who are interested in going college and looking to find more resources and advice. 

Jessica Matthews, Founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, participated as a guest speaker at the event. She developed soccer balls that produce energy when played with to help the energy crisis in undeveloped countries. Learn more here: https://www.u-pwr.co/company

Check out the photos of the event below!

Thanks to Betty, Karen, and Ari for sharing this experience with us!

GALS Denver Panel


Tune Into Our Live Stream of Puksta Scholar Oliver Martinez-Reyes’ Presentation at DU Founder’s Gala TONIGHT (7 PM)!

We are excited to share that Puksta Scholar Oliver Martinez-Reyes (DU ’21) will be presenting at The University of Denver Founder’s Gala tonight! This event is a celebration of the transformative role of philanthropy at the University of Denver and the collaborative work of the DU community that advances academic excellence, creates global impact and serves the public good. Oliver’s Puksta Project focuses on mentoring first-generation and low-income high school students that are undecided about educational or economic careers.

Be sure to tune in to our live stream of Oliver’s speech! The program begins at 7 PM tonight (Thursday 3/5) and we expect Oliver’s presentation to begin around 7:20 PM. Below are links to the Facebook and Instagram pages where the live stream will be available.

Best of luck to you, Oliver! We look forward to hearing your speech tonight!

Puksta Foundation Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pukstafoundation/

Puksta Foundation Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/pukstafdn


Submit Your Applications CSU Puksta Scholars Program Today!

Calling Colorado State University students! Will you be a sophomore in Fall 2020? Are you passionate about social justice and civic engagement? Apply to become a Puksta Scholar!

The deadline is March 1. Information about the application can be found at http://osp.casa.colostate.edu/puksta-scholarship/

Apply today!


Calling All CU Boulder Students!

Are you an incoming freshman, current freshman, or current sophomore at University of Colorado Boulder interested in becoming a Puksta Scholar?We’re ready for your application!

The deadline is March 13. The application, as well as additional details about the program, can be found at http://colorado.edu/puksta

Submit your application today!


CSU Puksta Scholars Showcase Their Work

CSU Puksta Scholars and their projects were recognized at last week’s mid-year showcase. Each of our eight scholars, including three seniors, gave informative and passionate presentations demonstrating the impact and value of their work. Great job everyone!

Read more about the showcase here:



Puksta Scholar in the News!

A recent profile of Bailey Cross Boggs by Voyage Denver discusses her career as a small wedding and elopement photographer, as well as her continued passion for advocacy and social justice. Bailey was a CSU Puksta Scholar (’17) who created The (Blank) Monologues, a student-written and performed production about social issues facing students on campus.

Bailey’s commitment to ending human trafficking and her passion for justice have carried over into her business. 10% of all proceeds from Bailey Cross Photography go to International Justice Mission, the oldest and largest non-profit in the United States working to end human trafficking around the world!

Read more here: http://voyagedenver.com/about-voyage-media/


Wanted-Aspiring Artists

Hey Puksta fam. This is Rob Hatcher and I’m looking for two Pukstas who would be interested in joining Mateo, Fifi, James, and Betelhem on the stage by reading a poem from a collection of works written by incarcerated poets. You’d be on stage for a maximum of five (5) minutes and, since the event is free, you could bring along a friend or two to see you shine!