MSU Puksta Scholars Applications Are Open!

Will you be a Metro State University junior, sophomore, or freshman at the start of the Fall 2020 semester? Are you, or someone you know, interested in becoming a Puksta Scholar? We’re ready for your applications!

Submit you application by March 11 for consideration. Additional details about the program, as well as the application, can be found at: tinyurl.com/Puksta2020

Submit your application today!


Applications Now Open for DU Puksta Scholars Program!

If you are currently a high school senior enrolling in University of Denver and are interested in becoming a Puksta Scholar, or know someone who is, we’re ready for your applications!

The deadline is Monday March 16 at 10 AM. The application, as well as additional details about the program, can be found at https://www.du.edu/ccesl/ourwork/galvanizing_tomorrows_leaders/pukstascholars/puksta.html

Submit your application today!


Puksta Intercollegiate Winter Retreat 2020

We had a weekend of bonding for our Puksta Scholars across all campuses. We all partook in activities ranging from discussions on setting boundaries, issues that they are working on, dancing, karaoke, meditations, cooking, enjoying the beauty of nature and gathering around the campfire together. It was a weekend retreat that will not soon be forgotten. We want to send out a special thank you to our Alumni, Luis Paredes, who led our discussion of “What It Means to Set Boundaries”, our amazing Puksta Coordinators, and of course our Puksta Scholars for coming into to the weekend with open minds and hearts to form deeper connections with one another. 

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Monica’s touching speech for the MSU Spring Commencement 2019

Monica Simpson earned the Provost Award from MSU in the spring of 2019. Here is her amazing and inspiring speech.

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!


A look back at Puksta Alumni Kevin McQuirk’s project with STEM Mentoring

My project for the Puksta foundation is a yearlong mentorship between paired, college and high school students in the Denver Public Schools. The name for my mentoring program is “Impact the Youth.” Through Impact the Youth, I will immerse high school mentees into the higher education environment on the Auraria Campus. The high school students who Impact the Youth is designed for are minorities, undocumented people, and socio-economic disadvantaged students that are in their second, third, or last year of high school. The goal of the project is to present these students with multiple options of education through a university or community college. It is designed to show higher education as one of the best career options, encourage them to attend college, and remove any roadblock in the way of these goals. In Impact the Youth, I will build mentor-mentee relationships with high school students by inviting them to attend activities at MSU Denver throughout the year. These activities could be a presentation, laboratory research, lecture, or event on the Auraria campus. This will allow high school students to be familiar with college campuses and to experience many opportunities through organizations at MSU Denver. This will also provide high school students the potential to work with on-campus organizations that they may potentially become involved with if they attend MSU Denver in the near future.


Puksta Coordinator Spotlight: Roudy Hildreth

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Roudy Hildreth is an eternal student who has the Rocky Mountains in his soul and strong coffee in his veins. Growing up just west of Golden, he graduated high school as a Golden High “Demon” and then journeyed to the University of Virginia where he earned his first of many degrees as a UVA “Wahoo”. His academic pursuits took him many places, but it was his time at the University of Minnesota as a TA where he would initially meet a young woman who would eventually play a central role in both his life and in his heart. Running into her twice more, in the years that followed, the two finally started dating and eventually married. Over the years, his intense passion for academics has lead him to several other universities and scholarly positions, ultimately resulting in his current appointment at CU Boulder. In that time he has enlightened many and strengthened the institutions where he attained additional degrees, published papers, co-authored/edited books, wrote book chapters, and attained several accolades.

An activist since his childhood, Roudy’s first social justice experience occurred when he accompanied his parents in a protest against the Vietnam War. Since then, he has been an active social justice advocate who has undertaken numerous initiatives and programs, hoping to one day implement the Puksta values and practices to an entire university. Off-campus, he can be found in and around the many parks and libraries in Boulder, at concerts, home enjoying his favorite program: The Wire, or at the cinema enjoying the solemn works of Director Mike Leigh. Having come from a large family, Roudy finds comfort amongst his many Puksta scholars, citing the Puksta Passage and one-on-one meetings as some of his favorite experiences.

A dog lover with a penchant for colorful socks, Roudy brings an artful spirit of enthusiasm to his work and a hunger for learning that is mirrored in those he educates and supports. He believes that students can “do great things and change the world” and sympathizes with their daily struggles of commuting, studying, and working within the bureaucracy of universities. A firm believer in the power of education, Roudy envisions continuing his career and working to provide an environment that will embolden aspiring social justice advocates by nurturing them to develop their insights and abilities and allow them sufficient space, support, and time to dedicate their energies towards their work. Roudy is a shining gem atop the Puksta crown. His dedication, mindfulness, and expansive intellect have greatly strengthened The Puksta Foundation’s efforts and given hope and encouragement to many. A hearty cheer of celebration and thanks for all that you are and do Roudy!


Puksta Alumni Spotlight: Jenni Talcott

Jenni Talcott was an Englewood High graduate who attended DU with optimism and a talent for public debate. During her time, she approached her university life with vigor and enthusiasm, both as an avid Puksta scholar and as President of RAGE (rape awareness and gender education.). Seeking dual degrees in Criminology and Psychology, Jenni discovered an inner-calling to assist those in need and feels that Puksta offered her “a new lens to see the world”. Not only supporting her education, she thinks The Puksta Foundation gave her a “call to action” that matched her desires to make a better world. While spending her campus downtime at the student pub/restaurant: Driscoll Bridge, Jenni studied, created many cherished moments with her fellow students, and diligently completed her Puksta project which resulted in the Colorado Governor declaring the month of February as Dating Violence Awareness Month.

She met her husband while attending DU and relocated with him to Texas when he returned from military deployment in 2011. She immediately dove into social justice work there and has since grown and prospered, both personally and professionally, for nearly ten years. In addition to her current role as Development Coordinator for MOPS International, Jenni is a devoted wife and proud mother of two children (ages six and five) and three cats. Though she doesn’t miss the late nights of studying and dreading finals, Jenni remembers her time as a student with fondness. She lives in Denver with her family and is planning to complete the final year of her dual degrees. She intends to achieve a graduate degree afterward.

Looking back, Jenni is thankful for the experience and sees the foundation as something with immense potential and power stating that Puksta scholars are “world changers, not only because they are smart, but they are passionate. They have [the] drive to pursue change and because of Puksta they have the skills to affect that change.” She’s happy that her personal interests aligned with her career and wishes to stress to current Puksta’s to try and be mindful of the bigger picture while pursuing their studies, as she has noticed some former students struggle to match their passions to their professions. Jenni has become a beacon of light and hope within a world that truly needs the goodwill and fortitude she has to offer. She continues to carry the Puksta torch with pride and spreads the light of social justice with each passing day.

You are truly the embodiment of what Puksta was intended to accomplish and the foundation salutes you for everything you’ve done and for all the accomplishments you will certainly achieve in the future. A happy Puksta holiday salute to you Jenni!


Puksta Self-Care: It’s Right to Rest!

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You did it! All that hard work and endless studying are finally over and the time to rest has finally arrived. The many weeks of down-time that lay ahead might seem odd or even disquieting at first, but you’ll need this precious time to rejuvenate and reinvigorate so that you’ll be ready for the challenges of the next semester.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your rest:

Celebrate: Remember that reward in an earlier post? Now is the time to get that spa treatment, massage, or whatever else you were saving for yourself as a prize for all your hard work. Just keep it safe and pat yourself on the back. Many don’t make it through the first year of university, even more don’t achieve Puksta excellence, so congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and make a little merriment to commemorate that. Just keep it safe, so if you overindulge make sure to have a travel plan and maybe a friend along to ensure you have many more celebrations to come!

Sleep: Says it all, doesn’t it? Maybe not, as a quick nap here and there isn’t exactly the full, restful, and relaxed sleep that your body really needs at this time. You might find it difficult to slow down so suddenly, but remember that you’ve probably been burning the candle at both ends for some time and the idea of getting a full eight hours might seem alien to you. Take a few days for yourself and just rest. Your body will quickly remember and thank you for it!

Eat: Get some good fuel back into your body. Finals usually invite lots of unhealthy snacking and eating. Late-night take-out will stave off starvation, but it won’t refuel your body in the way you need. If you like to cook then go grocery shopping and make yourself a big meal (maybe invite a few friends?). If not, then maybe a local eatery will serve you up something that both comforts and replenishes. Either way, try to stay away from just filling “the void” with junk and make your meals an experience to savor.

Have Fun and Reconnect: Remember all that getting back in touch you might’ve promised once the semester was done? Now is the time to think about following through on that. Give yourself some rest time, but don’t forget that getting in touch with friends and family can also be restorative. Laughing, crying, or just reminiscing, these moments can sometimes be essential in comforting you when the finals crunch is on you again, so endeavor to grab a few while you can.

Above all, enjoy the time and make the most of it because the next semester will be back sooner than you think.

For more ways to enjoy your break visit:
https://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/the-10-things-you-should-do-over-holiday-break or
https://www.mhanational.org/winter-break-survival-tips-college-students


Puksta Coordinator Spotlight: Sam Desta

Sam is a lover of adventure who enjoys cold sushi, spicy chai, and Colorado summers. A graduate of Overland High School in Aurora, Sam ventured to Fort Collins where she attended CSU and attained a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Education degree consecutively. She has grown within the CSU community from working as a student to empowering them through a succession of positions within the university. Currently stationed as the CSU Community for Excellence Senior Coordinator, Sam has also been serving The Puksta Foundation as Coordinator since June. So far, her favorite Puksta moments have been when engaging with her fellow Coordinators and getting to know the CSU fellowship scholars at campus meetings.

Drawing from the experiences her family endured when they immigrated to the U.S., Sam became passionate about social justice and has sought to assist immigrant families and students in her adult life. She loves the CSU campus and can be often found sitting near a window facing the sun, walking on the Oval, or visiting the lagoon. A fan of Thai or Sushi take out, Sam is an admitted media buff who enjoys too many tv shows to list and loves to snack on the occasional madeline. She enjoys passing the time with board games and taking care of her plants. She dreams of her next relaxing vacation in her homeland of Ethiopia and doesn’t regret leaving the anxiety-inducing lifestyle of endless homework from her student days.

Though the future looks bright for her, Sam is still formulating her next step and envisions a future continuing her work and helping fellow immigrants through educational and career transitions. Sam is a professional, who is mindful, spirited, and optimistic while keeping a protective watch over her students, especially her Puksta scholars. Puksta is looking forward to many years of your lending compassion, grit, and enthusiasm to the effort and celebrates your inclusion within their family. Cheers to you Sam!


Puksta Self-Care: Time to Shine!

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Preparation is over. The time for Pukstas warriors has come! Much like the final push to the summit of a mountain, it’s time to brace ourselves for the final effort by gathering our tools, readying our minds and bodies for the tasks ahead, mapping out a successful approach, and just putting one foot (metaphorically) in front of the other till the peak has been achieved!

Here’s some tips on doing your best:

-Use energy drinks sparingly and wisely: Sure, it might seem that draining an energy drink before the big test will have you sharp and at top shape, but what if you overdo it? Energy drinks, especially for those who don’t take them often, can have unexpected (and sometimes dangerous) effects. Really think about this before you take one and definitely don’t take anything that is usually prescribed if it hasn’t been prescribed for you specifically. Also, be aware that some energy drink ingredients can make people jumpy and anxious when they start taking effect, so give yourself some time before pens are filling out answers. If you must take something then think about some coffee before contemplating anything stronger.

-Sleep before a test: It might sound counter-intuitive, but many experts state that a weary mind that has been studying is less accurate than a rested one that maybe didn’t do as much preparation. Though a combination of the two is optimal (and recommended) try to get at least three hours of sleep before heading to class. If sleep is impossible, then keep your eyes shut and just rest comfortably. The effect will have benefits, though not as much as full slumber.

-Re-read everything and make confirm your assignments are submitted: Resist dramatically submitting that crucial paper and turning off your laptop because (insert dramatic music) you just can’t muster another ounce of energy to write. Take some time to make sure your thoughts and research translated as intended. Reading things out loud is also a great way of finding errors and realizing that you could add a word or two. Also, after hitting “send”, do so before the deadline and make sure the actual file made it to the prof. Most campus systems allow students to download their submissions, so an easy confirmation is to save and close the file and then download and read the submission. It’s easy to send unrevised copies or even the entirely wrong file, especially when you’re tired and stressed.

-Set multiple alarms: There are horror stories about the student who accidentally slept through finals by mistake. This does happen and can have catastrophic consequences to your academic career, so guard against this by setting multiple alarms that are closely spaced. Don’t hit “snooze” and assume the next alarm will wake you. If you have a virtual assistant then also set a news brief that will get your mind running so you can get your blood pumping.

-Know when the stress has become too much: It happens to all of us at some point. The combination of stress and a lack of sleep can make us think about things in a way that isn’t either logical or healthy, so if you feel that things are feeling out of control, then get something to eat and some sleep even if it doesn’t seem like there’s time for it. If that’s not enough and things still are feeling dark then talk to someone asap! A friend is great, but a drop-in with the campus mental health staff can be what gets you back into the right mindset. Nobody can tackle everything and solve every problem without a little help from time to time, so there’s never any shame in talking to someone.

Some additional thoughts on finals prep:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/college/2014/12/08/25-crucial-study-tips-for-finals-week/37398951/ or
https://www.teenvogue.com/story/final-exams-study-tips