Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Karen Nunez Sifuentes

Equipped with a tough work ethic and a pioneering spirit, Karen is hard at work achieving an education in the sciences while breaking barriers and expanding perceptions. Approaching life and her future with optimism and a will to work with others from diverse, and sometimes conflicting backgrounds, she understands that not everyone has to be the same in order to work towards a common goal. By becoming a mentor to younger women who are experiencing repression and under-appreciation, she hopes to lead by example and encourage others to see beyond the framework others might have set for them and to seek a university education as a means of reaching for their dreams. Fly high and proud Karen. Puksta will be there to support you while you enable others to soar and succeed!

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Dominica Manlove

Dominica makes no apologies for being who she is. With curly hair and a wide smile, this CSU student is working with young women and girls to promote self-love and respect. Once overly concerned of what others thought of her looks, her glasses, and especially her hair, she has learned to embrace her natural appearance and to make others aware that true beauty is far more than skin deep. Developing the Be Yourself and Own It campaign, she is collaborating with activists, bloggers, and stylists to create safe places where individuals can be appreciated and accepted for who they are. After graduation, she plans to seek a higher education in the medical field and intends to assist her community in numerous ways. Dominica is making great strides towards creating a future where people don’t rely on the acceptance of others in order to love themselves. Keep making those efforts Dominica. Puksta will be there to support you in every step along the way!

Puksta Self-Care: Friends are Priceless!

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More than many, Pukstas understand the stresses of college. The time spent with fellow students can not only be a way of greatly enriching the college experience but an excellent way of keeping you at your best. Sometimes avoided or taken for granted, friends can be essential to staying emotionally, mentally, and physically fit. Get a bad grade or have a stressful day? Friends are usually only one call or text away and can be one of the best ways to laugh or talk those troubles away. Good friendships often don’t need to cost a lot either. As simple as getting coffee or watching a movie with, your friends can provide something far more valuable than gold, especially when the homework piles up or (sadly) your heart might be a little bruised. Just by offering a shoulder, a sympathetic ear, or a pat on the back, a friend can provide a vital means of emotional support and allow you to build bonds with someone who you might know for the rest of your life.

Some tips on friends:

-Friends not Frenemies. Life is too short to spend time with people that don’t enrich your life. Sure, sometimes you have to keep on friendly terms with others whom you’d prefer not to, but be choosy in discerning who you decide to confide in and trust.

-Respect your friend’s space. Sometimes life is too busy for spending large amounts of time with others and a simple quick text is all you can manage. Be aware that this can also be the case for others. Catching up can sometimes be all your life and workload will allow, so communicate this with your friend(s) and be aware that they may need to tell you this also. At some point, if you both want it, you’ll find the time and place to reconnect.

-Understand that friends fight. Knowing another person so closely can also lead to differences of opinion and even arguments. Try always to be mindful and not cause offense, but know that fights can still happen regardless of how hard you might work at avoiding this. When the time is right, put your ego aside and make sure your friends know how important they are to you and work to mend those hurt feelings.

-Friendships can end. The sad fact is that friends can sometimes grow apart. Different careers, life experiences, and paths can take people in very different and unexpected directions. Sometimes a friendship that ends can be a good thing and sometimes it can just be a sad reality. If a friendship can stand the test of time (and sometimes distance) then truly cherish that friendship because you possess something amazing.

-Be a good friend. Friendships aren’t only about what others can give to you, but what you can give to them. Be invested in their lives and be there for them. Especially when the chips are down, you can help a friend see a different perspective or offer the comfort that can get them over the hurdle and back on a winning track.

For more on the benefits of friends visit the Mayo Clinic at:

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Dom Baca

Dom is busy but has much to do. An individual who exudes energy, optimism, and strength this CSU scholar seeks to fight injustice through the use of restorative practices in order to bring individuals and communities together. Never one to sit quietly, Dom has always been someone who asks questions and seeks answers. Sometimes his pursuits have made others uneasy, but that is how real change sometimes must occur. In his past he has seen his fellow students subjected to unfair situations and policies and now works in the present to help grade school administrations better understand their students. With the intention of creating a culture of care within these institutions, he is currently hoping to work within his former high school to address injustice and inequalities that he first identified there and which have inspired him towards achieving this end on a much larger scale. From achieving a license in Restorative Justice to shadowing the Conflict Resolution program at CSU, Dom’s work has kept him active and energized, even calling him across the nation in order to pursue his goal. We have every confidence in you and your abilities Dom. Keep making Puksta proud!

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Jasmine Tran

Wellbeing is a central concern for Jasmine. From health care to home pantries, she has spent her time in both Puksta and CU Boulder working towards the betterment of families and their ability to live more fruitful lives. Originally identifying improving healthcare access for immigrants, she has refined her focus by working towards food access for families in Boulder communities. Through food banks, farmer markets, and various other food assistance programs, she is endeavoring to better ensure more than just a meal, but a nutritious, healthy, and plentiful diet for those who often don’t have either the money or the access. Having identified six mountain communities in need of this assistance, Jasmine is currently conducting research and preparing to implement a program that enhances and expands access, in addition to working on collaborative partnerships that will help her achieve this. Keep your spirits up and your focus honed Jasmine. Puksta believes in you!

Puksta Self-Care: De-stress with a Pet!

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Whether they have fur, scales, or fins pets are a way of caring and sharing that can be deeply beneficial for both your physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention a means of offering love and attention to a life that can return that affection in ways that just can’t be measured. In addition to lowering blood pressure and stress, they can offer new ways of getting exercise and developing community with others.

Tips for owning a pet:

Be responsible and know your limitations! Know the pet policy of where you live and what your ability to care for these little lives truly is. Hiding an animal in your dorm or studio apartment can not only be unhealthy for the pet but can also get you kicked out of your home. Before buying or (better yet) adopting, sit down and talk with someone in the know about what you’re getting into and what costs/responsibilities will be required.

Get your pet to the vet! Just like going to the doctor to get your shots, your pet also needs protection from disease and sickness. In addition to keeping both of you warm, clean, and well-fed, health checks and inoculations are a necessary part of being a pet parent. Pet ownership can cost money, but be aware that there are many low-cost shelters and clinics that offer discounted treatments, care (like spaying or neutering), and medications that can significantly extend and enhance both of your lives.

There are daycare and overnight stay options. If you’re heading out on a trip, remember that your pet needs care and attention while you are away. From having your pet cared for by a family member or trusted friend to stays at facilities that provide daytime and overnight care, there are several ways you can ensure your pet will be happy and healthy until you return. Be aware that costs and care can vary greatly, so plan ahead and shop around before you leave. Also, a two-foot by four-foot balcony is not a sufficient long-term care option. Not only is this unhealthy but can it be extremely dangerous for your pet.

Know that your pet will someday leave you. We don’t want to think about it, but these precious lives often end before we are ready to part. Animals often age much faster than we do, so it’s important to understand that the day will likely come when you may have to give extra care and love and even, sadly, say goodbye.
“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”-W. Bruce Cameron

For more information on the benefits and responsibilities of bringing a pet into your life visit the CDC webpage at:

Puksta Fall Retreat 2019 Event Recap

A few short weeks ago, as the September heat was about to give way to October chills, our current and new scholars were invited to join family at the MSU campus for a day of fellowship, renewal of spirit, and expansion of awareness. As students arrived, they collected the latest in Puksta higher-education hydration technology: a sleek new custom water bottle complete with Puksta Scholar branding!

After coffee and snacks, the group settled into the day with a moment of reflection. Then Puksta Coordinators Roudy Hildreth (CU Boulder) and Sam Desta (CSU) offered a rousing presentation to the senior members while Executive Director John Mulstay took the new ones on a short walk where he extolled the values of the organization, expectations, and his vision for Puksta’s future.

When John and the incoming Puksta Scholars returned, they were given a surprise welcome back by the current scholars who offered hugs and handshakes to all. After a short break, the group resettled and were received by Riana Mitchell with the Chinook Fund who offered a discussion/workshop where members explored how her organization employs a “change not charity” approach to support funding when assessing nonprofits.

The group then strolled over to the MSU Student Success Building where they enjoyed a hearty and healthy lunch in the courtyard, sponsored by Protein Bar. After tummies settled and bodies were refreshed, new photos and headshots were taken followed by a trip back to the Puksta event HQ for an in-depth and spirited presentation led by local anti-oppression trainer: Regan Byrd who discussed anti-racism and intersectionality.

Finally, before the day came to close, a reflection on the day was offered and a Puksta poem was recited by Puksta Alumni: Rob Hatcher. Hugs and goodbyes were then given to everyone and our family journeyed back to their respective campuses to continue the good fight for a better world for all. In all, a great day for the Puksta family, both old and new!

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Angelica Prisciliano

Angelica seeks knowledge and the rights of others to pursue the same. Focusing on the undocumented in Colorado, she endeavors to grow their knowledge of their rights and their access to a college education. Inspired by her history with hard-working migrant families, this MSU student is currently developing a network where the undocumented can obtain the tools to achieving the path of higher education and the promise of future prosperity. She drives herself not only to her own enlightenment, but to help others towards a brighter future. We are proud of your efforts Angelica and look forward to how you’ll help others shine just as brilliantly as you. Great work!

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Aliyah Williams

Aliyah wants to help those who often can’t help themselves. In her time with Puksta, this DU student has been engaged in raising awareness and promoting mental health, especially for both those who are economically disadvantaged and those within the prison system. Fascinated by the human brain, she works to educate others on the complexity of the organ and destroy the stigma often associated with mental illness. In addition to personally advocating for those suffering, she has created a website dedicated to this effort and hopes to grow this into a full-fledged nonprofit after university. We are proud of how much you are doing Aliyah and promise to do in the future. Excellent work!

Puksta Self-Care: Walking the Block

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Hiking the trails is great, but why wait for the weekend to stretch those legs and enjoy some fresh air? Studies can sometimes create insular attitudes, so don’t allow your dorm or apartment to become a place of confinement. As simple as some sweats and sneakers, taking a walk is not just getting some light exercise, but also getting you out and familiar with your neighborhood. If you’re the type who needs a destination then why not a bookstore or a coffee shop? If you have some light shopping to do, then a brief visit to the local grocery store can be an answer to breaking up the grind of reading books and papers and writing essays. As with all exercise, a little stretching never hurts, but a simple trip outside can get your muscles moving and your lungs working.

Some tips for your neighborhood travel:

-Shoes are important! Comfort and grip, especially when the weather is less than perfect, is essential.

-Safety is paramount! Only walk in areas you feel are safe and if you can bring a friend along its all the better.

-The campus is a great place to get those steps and crunch those books.

Here’s what the Harvard Medical School has to say about the benefits of walking: