Puksta Scholar Spotlight: James Artis III

James is fighting for equality. Having experienced a tragedy within his own family, this DU student has taken it upon himself to be seen for something more than for his color, especially by law authorities. James is working to mend the relationship between law enforcement and African-American communities through a number of efforts intended to prevent the phenomenal number of fatal shootings that have been leaving families in tears and creating an ever-widening rift between the two within this nation. Wishing to act as a catalyst that will empower the black community to become more central in law enforcement policy and practice, he has been a mentor for the Excelling Leaders Institute and has been working with the Cherry Creek School District towards their Brotherhood efforts. After graduation, he intends to take down the walls of misrepresentation by creating a nonprofit that works towards this while working with low-income communities of color. Through sponsorship, partnership, and collaboration, James is working to ultimately make America a place that is safer and much more just. Keep working towards your goals James! Puksta is here to give you the support to help your vision (and the vision of so many) become a reality.

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Blanche Marie Ndoutou

Blanche wishes to make America more of a place of refuge for refugees. Having sought this nation as an alternative to the strife where she previously lived, she is now active on the DU campus with her co-created organization: African Students United and is seeking partnerships and guidance from both her university and local community colleges to better help others just like her. An ardent student, she is also conducting research on the refugee population in Denver while working on ways of easing the transitional obstacles and stress that is often experienced by those also seeking peaceful and productive lives by coming to this country. Though she is active in these efforts, she doesn’t see herself as an activist but prefers to think she’s just a human being caring for others. Your cause is a noble one Blanche and Puksta is here to help you make your dreams a reality. Keep up the hard work and remain determined, for we are proud to have you within our ranks!

Puksta Self-Care: Treat Yourself!

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Whether it’s that sinful dessert you’ve been denying yourself or that spa treatment you’ve been yearning for, occasionally rewarding yourself can be a great way of celebrating the small milestones that comprise a semester.
Pukstas are well-aware of the stresses of University life and it can sometimes feel that the immediate and often intangible rewards of academic achievement do little but point you to the next obstacle or task to be overcome. Stressing over a paper or studying for that big test? Sometimes setting up a self-reward system can become a great motivator and help give you that extra boost to the finish line. Not only can these little pleasures become a small respite from the rigor, but they also serve as a means of you honoring the most important person in your life. Because if you don’t love yourself then how can you love and help others?

Tips on Treating Yourself:

Make Achievements Realistic-Try not to become focused on achieving the highest GPA in the class or the best grade for an assignment. Students sometimes set themselves immediate goals that seem far in excess of true success in retrospect. Nobody is an instant expert, so don’t put the weight of the world onto yourself to be perfect. Remember that you’re a human being and humans are imperfect. This isn’t to say that striving for greatness is bad, far from it, but we can sometimes believe that we have to run before we learn to walk. Superheroes are great for print and film, but real superstars have many setbacks and obstacles along their paths and many even have failures when they’ve achieved what others consider perfection.

Spread Things Out-Don’t just plan a reward for getting an A at the end of the semester, decide on some smaller rewards that are significant enough that they’ll motivate you through the weeks and months until winter/summer break. Maybe getting your nails done for finishing that big assignment or that game for getting an A on that daunting test? Save getting the full spa treatment day, the new game system purchase, or maybe taking that trip for when the semester is over and you can truly rest your mind for a month, really relax, and appreciate what you’ve accomplished.

Make it Personal-Tell yourself that you love yourself with something that really matters. Have you been craving that really good sushi from your favorite restaurant or denying yourself that pair of shoes that would really make you feel like you shine? These are great ways of applying a little self-congratulation for all the hard work that only you know you’ve been applying.

For more on the benefits of treating yourself visit Psychology Today at:

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Cicilia Saenz

Cicilia has a broad smile and even wider aspirations. While at MSU, this Puksta star is shining both in the classroom and within her local community where she is working to create an afterschool program that specifically works with and benefits special education. During her time with Puksta, she has learned self-reliance and to collaborate with others, having worked closely with CUE 21st Century, in addition to her local community. After graduation, she hopes to continue her efforts by teaching and working more closely with a segment of the student population that is often ignored and neglected in society. Her efforts will no doubt bring many more smiles and brighten many futures. Puksta is proud to celebrate you Cicilia and all of your great work!

Puksta Scholar Spotlight: Chhorda Vuth

Chhorda is on a journey. Having emigrated to this country, she understands the stresses, trials, and challenges of preserving her culture while learning to work within another. That journey not only brought her here but enabled her to recently travel to India where she enjoyed yet another culture. While there, she strengthened bonds with a fellow Puksta and gained a better appreciation for those who accompanied her. While attending DU, Chhorda is working to help high school students through the same obstacles she once experienced and hopes to extend this assistance even further when she graduates. More than helping to write essays and fill out college applications, Chhorda is making friends and providing an invaluable link for those who might feel lost and alone in a new and foreign country. She is working hard to help others achieve greatness and Puksta is proud to have her within its ranks. Keep up the hard work on your journey Chhordra!

Puksta Self-Care: Make Your Free Time an Art!

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Many of us don’t consider ourselves artists. Especially if we are pursuing scientific pathways, art can sometimes be seen as a kind of dirty word. However, being able to creatively express oneself is often considered a much-needed means of both therapy and problem-solving. Being artistic doesn’t mean having to create your own Sistine Chapel paintings or you becoming the next Banksy, it can just mean learning a song or just doodling. Human minds can’t just be contained in a world of pure science and linear thought. Often, some of the greatest discoveries and innovations have required approaching problems from different angles and utilizing unique methods that only creative minds tend to achieve. One thing to consider is that many art forms rely heavily on science and mathematics, so art can (in some ways) be seen as a form of science. So next time your studies are done and you have a few hours to yourself, consider something creative and expressive to give your mind and your body some new challenges.

Tips on Art:

-Art doesn’t have to be public. What matters is that you enjoy it and that can happen in your bedroom, at the library, or even on the bus. The whole world, if you can devote the time and attention, can be a place where art can happen. Your art can be both personal and private. If you want to share it then all the better!

-Art doesn’t have to be good. The quality of your art does not matter. The idea of “good” is completely subjective anyway, so as long as you are enjoying yourself then you are doing your art right. Some art forms do require some training (if you have specific goals for it) but as long as you find it fulfilling then that is what matters most.

-Art doesn’t have to be costly. Some kinds of art do require supplies and some expense, but now that we have a multitude of art/craft supply stores (not to mention online stores) one can often secure these supplies at minimal expense.

-Art forms can be combined. Do you like painting and poetry? Then maybe painting poems onto an object or canvas is what will bring you fulfillment. Street artists are often known for combining art forms to create certain works and that means you can do likewise.

For more on the benefits of art or creative expression visit this link:

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!