Category: Puksta Blog

Meet Evan and vote YES on 300

Meet Evan, a Puksta Scholar and a graduate of Poudre High School, who is pursuing a dual degree in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Denver. The Puksta Scholarship he received allows him to pursue his dream of higher education without the financial stresses.

Through the Puksta Scholars Program at DU, Evan has developed a social impact project working on the issue of gender violence, in hopes to deter sexual assaults on college campuses.

Evan wants to work as a youth grief counselor when he graduates from DU. #YESon300 will empower thousands of students like Evan to achieve their dreams and positively impact the Denver Community. Learn more

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#PukstaScholars #SocialImpact

Puksta Winter Retreat Recap – By Aaqil Anwar, Junior Puksta Scholar

January 21st proved to be an eye-opening experience for various communities throughout the United States due to the Women’s March. One such community that participated in the Women’s March on Denver was the DU Puksta Scholars Program as a result of the annual Puksta Foundation Intercollegiate Retreat taking place that weekend. Scholars from DU and four other universities marched in support of various communities that have been marginalized following events that have taken place over the last couple of months. For many scholars, the Women’s March was their first community action. “It was amazing to be able to see so many people take the time out of their day to come together and express their opposition to the marginalization of various communities,” said Larcy Brooks a fourth -year Puksta Scholar. While for many scholars the Women’s March on Denver proved to be the highlight of the weekend, there was still an entire retreat to attend.

Following the Women’s March, Puksta Scholars from every university came back to the Wells Fargo building on Lincoln Street to partake in various seminars in order to build skills and develop closer relationships with their counterparts from different schools. Roudy Hildreth, the Puksta coordinator for the University of Colorado (CU), officially kicked off the retreat with a seminar challenging every scholar to focus on the story of themselves, their Puksta project and attempting to frame the story in a community perspective. Furthermore, CCESL’s very own Ryan Hanschen introduced scholars to the concept of a One2One and encouraged scholars to engage with their roommates in an attempt to better get to know each other. Finally, Katharine Worms of Colorado State University led scholars in an activity highlighting identity and the idea of socialization throughout one’s own life.

The characteristic that makes Puksta different from other scholarship foundations is the sense of family and belonging. This was demonstrated on Saturday night through the alumni panel which included three DU and one CU alumni who provided current scholars with their insights into “life after Puksta.” This proved to be a useful experience for many first-years, including Oscar Saenz who said, “I am truly grateful and humbled to be a Puksta Scholar after seeing what previous scholars have gone on to do from a community organizing perspective. Puksta really is a lifestyle.” Following dinner, all of the DU Puksta Scholars went to Lucky Strike to play various arcade games, compliments of the Puksta Foundation. Sunday morning had a more somber and relaxed tone due to the fact that various scholars realized that the retreat was coming to an end. A presentation provided of self-care and mental awareness was led by Cody Wiggs, another DU Puksta alumni. This presentation provided helpful insight into how scholars can take care of themselves and channel all of their energy into focusing on the things in front of them rather than getting caught up on things in the future.

Following the presentation of self-care and awareness, Puksta Foundation President John Mulstay addressed the scholars with words of wisdom about the retreat along with the history that was made the previous day at the Women’s March on Denver. Scholars rejoiced and celebrated what was arguably the most successful Intercollegiate Puksta Retreat to date.

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CSU’s Puksta Scholar Showcase 2017

Our amazing scholars at CSU put on a very special event to showcase the work they have done with their projects. It was a beautiful and inspiring night, where potential future scholars and outside guests were given the opportunity to learn of the wonderful work these scholars are doing in our communities. David Purcella presented on his work with children who have disabilities and introducing them to service dogs. When the two connect it helps them overcome their struggles and gain confidence. Eduardo Hernandez expressed his passion for having a place for kids to go after school and how much that had help him growing up with parents working. Bailey Cross talked about her upcoming production of “The Blank Monologues” for the second year in a row!!! The enthusiasm and excitement in the room left for a very heartwarming and fulfilling evening.


Puksta Intercollegiate Winter Retreat 2017!!!

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Our Annual Winter Retreat was full of surprises and lessons this year!
During our Annual Winter Retreats we teach scholars lessons in telling their stories. We also work with our scholars to provide them with the tools they will need to make effective change in our communities.
Ironically, the Women’s March on Denver fell on the same weekend as our intercollegiate retreat and we thought… What better way to teach civic engagement than to jump right into the middle of it! So, we revised our agenda and let the scholars observe and/or participate in in the march. It was a first march for many and became a great learning tool to show how powerful community organizing can be!
Over the course of the weekend our scholars also went through many workshops to help them grow and build upon their strengths. The workshops included Public Narrative, Identity, Building Your Resume, and Self-Care General/Mindfulness.
The Mindfulness Workshop was led by one of our own Puksta Alumni, Cody Wiggs (DU ’11). Cody is now serving as the Executive Director of Empowering Education. Empowering Education Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers comprehensive Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) programming, professional development, and implementation support in K-8.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Maggiano’s and were touched by the words and advice that was given by our graduating Puksta Scholars from each of our 5 partnering universities.
It was a wonderful weekend with many hugs, laughs, tears and sometimes deep introspection. But the most beautiful part of all was to see the family bond that forms between the scholars.

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DJ Close and United Way’s Reading Corps

DJ Close is one of our Alumni and Advisory Board members. He works with United Way as a Program Manager for their Reading Corps program. They were in the Denver Post for their extreme success that the program is having with children and literacy. Congrats DJ and keep up the great work!