Reflecting on 2022

For the Puksta Foundation, 2022 marked an extraordinary year…Please join us in celebrating some incredible milestones: 

* We welcomed 27 new Puksta Scholars into our program

* We launched a new Puksta Scholars Program at CU Denver

* 14 of our Puksta Scholars graduated in 2022! Way to go Puksta Grads

* We currently have 61 Puksta Scholars in the program

* We celebrated 22 years of granting scholarships

* 318 Puksta Alumni have now gone through our Puksta Scholars Program and are still continuing to do amazing things in and for our communities!


Our Puksta Scholars are the heart and soul of this foundation. We are so proud and grateful for all their work to create a positive change in this world. Many times putting aside their own needs and wants to help others.

To read our full recap of 2022 please click here


CSU Puksta Scholar Showcase 2022!

Sam Desta, CSU Puksta Scholar Coordinator, created an absolutely beautiful evening for our Puksta Scholars to showcase their work! The scholars stood up one by one to address the audience and talk about the social impact issue they were addressing and why they were so passionate about it. The topics ranged from:

  • Mental health for first-generation students
  • Helping one just that one person realize that they can hope for more and they are enough
  • Bringing access to dental hygiene to the unhoused community and education on why it is so important
  • Helping Latine and undocumented students find their path to higher education
  • Awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women
  • Mentorship for first-generation students towards post-grad
  • Addressing mental health for DACA/undocumented students
  • Resources to help ensure success for low-socioeconomic students
  • Working with high schools to enhance educational equity for English language learners.

And the list goes. They all are so dedicated and passionate about what they are doing. After they all spook we were then able to go around to each scholar and their poster to get a deeper understanding of their work. We are so proud of every single one of our Puksta Scholars This night helped shine a bright light on the level of love and hope that these Puksta Scholars are bringing to our communities.

Thank you and keep going Pukstas!!!


Puksta Intercollegiate Fall Retreat 2022

What an incredible Saturday spent up in Fort Collins on the beautiful campus of CSU. All of our scholars from across our 5 university partners come together. Our day started with some meditation, ice breakers a little greeting from our Puksta Mascot Izzy! A huge thank you to Paul Teske, CU Denver’s Dean of Public Affairs, who came and spent his Saturday teaching a workshop on policy, leadership, and democracy. The afternoon turned into a bit of a reunion with four of our Puksta Alumni coming back for a Puksta Panel. We sat outside on stone bleachers while they told us about their experiences as Puksta Scholars and what they are doing now. It was wonderful to see the current scholars light up and ask questions and truly take advantage of the experience and knowledge. The day always goes too fast, but before you know it the Winter Retreat will be here and we will all be together to create more memories to share.


MSU Puksta Passage 2022

So Happy to be able to celebrate our Amazing MSU Puksta Grads: Ari Gibson and Duvia Ortega!!! We got snowed out in May for our first try for this event and nearly got rained out this time in July!

I guess the skies above wanted in on the celebration action as well!! Congrats to our incoming Puksta’s and continue to rock it to all of our continuing Puksta Scholars. So proud of you all! And a HUGE thank you to Illegal Pete’s Lodo for sponsoring our MSU Puksta Passage Celebration… that was more than generous and we are so grateful!


DU Puksta Passage 2022

What a wonderful evening of catching up, meeting new faces, enjoying tasty treats, and of course celebrating our wonderful Puksta Grads!

Congratulations Jenny Truong, Rosie Contino, Jessica Rangel Leon, Gelella Nebiyu and Shaunice Dedner!!!

Thank you to our guest speakers Oscar Saenz (DU Puksta Alum ’20), John Mulstay (President/Founder of Puksta) and Anne DePrince (DU Associate Vice Provost for Public Strategy & Research), all who brought such inspiration and joy to the room with their words. Thank you to all of our scholars, their families and friends who came to support them in their journey! Jackie Tran thank you for stepping into the coordinator role these last few months! Welcome John Macikas to the Puksta family, we are so excited to share the next adventures as a Puksta Coordinator with you. And last but most certainly not least… Thank you to Kathleen Ferrick for the four amazing years that you have spent with us and the Puksta Scholars. You warmth, kind heart and smile that lights up a room will be sorely missed.

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CSU Puksta Passage 2022

What a beautiful time of year to visit Fort Collins, bursting with spring and blossoms it’s the season of transformation and starting anew. In addition to the beauty surrounding us, we are there for the beautiful celebration of our incredible Puksta Grad, Dulce Olmedo! Congratulations Dulce you earned this and we are excited about your next chapter.

A huge thank you to our Rockstar Puksta Coordinator Sam Desta! Such a beautiful event to bring our CSU Scholars together. You can feel the love in the room and see the joy in all of the scholars faces. Thank you to all the CSU staff/faculty, friends and families that were able to join us. A big welcome to our incoming Pukstas and keep rocking it to our continuing Puksta Scholars!!


CU Puksta Passage 2022!!!

For the first time in 2 years, we were able to celebrate our Puksta Scholar Seniors in person and give a warm welcome to our incoming first-year Puksta Scholars. It was such a pleasant change of pace to see everyone’s smiles without the cold filter of the computer screen. The evening started with a Poster Presentation. Guests and family members were able to walk around the room to engage with our continuing scholars as they showcase the work they are doing in the community. Seeing what they are working on and the passion they hold to help others is truly inspiring. As the evening progressed, we shifted gears and listened to our Puksta Seniors give their presentations on how Puksta and their work in the community have shaped their journey through college.

  • Lluvia gave her presentation in English and Spanish as she discussed her work on making sure mental health tools are available to undocumented individuals.

  • Mateo moved us with his live recitation of his spoken word poem “Ode to Federal Bouldevard”. A beautiful closing after conveying his love of increasing access to arts edication for low-income youth of color. Click here to see his poem

  • Sara shared her journey leading her from the topic of diaspora to realizing her passion for increasing mental health awareness and treatment advocacy for immigrants, refugees and their families.

  • Sana, unfortunately was not able to join us for the evening, but we are so proud of the work she has done as a mentor and guide for underrepresented high school and college students.

It was a beautiful evening spending time with one another and celebrating the hard work of our Puksta Scholars. To quote one of our speakers of the night, Dean of the School of Education, Kathy Shultz, “This room is so full of love and the world is in such need of it”. Kathy, we will do our best to continue to spread that Puksta Love.

Sending out a huge thank you to our Puksta Coordinator Ana Contreras and the CU Team (especially Mayra) for making this night such a memorable one. Thank you to our speakers Ana Contreras, Roudy Hildreth, Kathy Shultz, and John Mulstay for sharing your thoughts, memories, and kind words with us. Thank you to our guests and family members of our Puksta Scholars, your love and support mean the world. Most importantly thank you to our Puksta Scholars, you are the heart and soul of the Puksta Scholar Program. You inspire us every day and we are so proud of all that you are doing.




Puksta Alumni Stories: Chand Jiwani

“Everyone was kind, open, and so civically minded. What else could you want? It was a place I could feel inspired,” said Puksta Alum (CSU ’16) Chand Jiwani as she reflected on her memories as a Puksta Scholar. Since then, she’s continued the Puksta tradition of spreading kindness, positivity, and inspiration to others. Even in her professional life now, she maintains the spirit of service in all she does. Only four years after graduating, Jiwani has already elevated to the position of Senior Specialist of Engagement & Inclusion at Boston Medical Center, where she serves marginalized communities in New England’s largest safety-net hospital.

Service has always been at Jiwani’s core. Her Puksta project focused on the elderly population, a community that is often overlooked. She led programs at a local Fort Collins nursing home to keep patients active physically, mentally, and most importantly, socially. “They really appreciated the chance to connect with someone,” Chand said, “but I really feel like I benefited more from it than they did.” Beyond being able to practice leadership and civic service, she cites learning to develop relationships with the patients and hearing their stories as the most enriching part of her experience.

Jiwani counts her ability to develop relationships as her biggest takeaway from her time with Puksta. “When you’re serving people, it’s important to speak to them in a way that’s not only eloquent, but also accessible,” she said. Programs around her work have involved communities ranging from people experiencing homelessness, to undocumented peoples, to local residents that just want to learn to cook more healthy. “Different people need to be approached differently so that they don’t get confused and miss out on chances to get the help they need,” she said.

Years and miles since her graduation at CSU, Chand Jiwani continues to spread the spirit of Puksta in all she does, and she hopes the next generation of young leaders get to experience the same thing. “It’s a family that will accept you as you are and elevate you to what you can be, nothing would ever change my recommendation,” said Jiwani.