Scholar Category: Arts and Music

Gerson Rojas Flores

Major: Journalism

Project: Make a documentary to showcase the struggles that first-generation and undocumented students are faced with when going to college

Inspiration: Family

Future Plans: I hope to increase the support CSU gives its first generations and undocumented students.

Maddie Jade Allen

Major: Studio Art

Project: As of now I am unsure, but I am interested in something concerning the arts, racial justice/liberation, LGBTQ+ rights, and/or environmental causes

Inspiration: As a black lesbian woman (who is pursuing a career in the arts), I have personal connections to all of the subject matter listed above (including environmental matters as I have seen my communities be directly impacted by climate change).

Goals for future: I would like to raise awareness and encourage people to take action by reminding them of their personal power and influence, and also providing specific actions to take to cultivate meaningful progress.


Christy Vo

Major: Psychology

Project: I am thinking about spreading awareness about my social justice issue through art. I want to be ablate put murals or create designs to catch people’s attention on the matter.

Inspiration: I have always loved art and want to be able to use it to my advantage to do something about my social issue and what I think is important to talk about and stand up for.

Future Plans: I hope to help with getting people to become more knowledgeable about the issue. I want to eventually work my way up and improve my project to be able to help people in Domestic Violence situations

Felicia “Fifi” Garcia

Major: Music Education

Project: Through the influence of music education, my project will bring a community of children together. My project will provide a program dedicated to bringing music to children where music may not be completely funded. While bringing music to underfunded communities, my project will also help to serve music communities that are lacking in the ability to provide extra personal development for the children who are learning their instruments.

Inspiration: Music Education has been a big impact on my life and I am looking to give back to the community that helped me be who I am today.

Future Plans: I am looking to develop and produce a project that is beneficial and helpful to the community that I can share as developmental research that will follow my degree. It is my hope that once finished with my research and established into my project I will be able to turn it all into words and into an undergraduate thesis that I will be able to share with people for a long time.

Mateo Manuel Vela

Project: My Puksta Project is working to increase access to arts education for low-income youth of color in Denver through providing access to culturally-competent spoken word poetry workshops and performance opportunities. This past summer, I applied and was accepted for a board position for the literary arts organization Sacred Voices, which hosts open mics for Black, Indigenous, and youth of color each month. I am currently helping them expand their board, host their open mics, and generate a long-term curriculum for BIPoC youth of color to be taught in middle/high schools.


Inspiration:  My personal experience as an alumni of Denver’s youth slam poetry team, Minor Disturbance, inspired me to choose my Puksta project. Spoken word has greatly impacted my life, and I feel it is important that students of color are able to engage this art form.


Future Plans for Project:  I hope to accomplish the following from my retreat: a more connected network of youth poets of color in Denver, a safe space for youth of color to articulate their experiences in the current political climate, and the opportunity for students to be connected to the community resources to hone their craft upon returning home.

Leo Andrade

Project: I want to help minority and low-income students attain the resources and skills required to be prepared for a higher education in art related fields.


Inspiration: I was once part of an afterschool art program when I was in middle school. Before I joined I had no idea about what possible career path I would take or how I would get there once I decided. This afterschool program taught me how to use digital computer programs, illustrate, and network so that when I applied and entered college I’d be ready. I want other future students to have access to a collaborative environment similar, my goal is to do exactly that.


Future Plans for Project: I hope to help students find their purpose and let them know that there are people who are there help them succeed. Speaking from experience, minority and low incomes students feel as though the odds are stacked against them. I want them to know that success is possible for them and that they can accomplish it in the arts as well.




Rob Hatcher

Project: He spent the spring semester of 2018 leading poetry workshops at the Community College of Aurora, where he uses creative writing as a means for helping students explore voice and agency. Rob says “What I appreciate about the Puksta Scholars program is that it has allowed me to make an actual difference in the lives of those who really need that extra hand up as they pursue both their academic and personal growth within a junior college environment. None of this would have been possible without the Puksta Fellowship and I am grateful that it has enabled me to have made (and to continue making) an actual impact in the lives of our future leaders.”


Inspiration: My form of activism married to my former community college.


Future Plans for Project: I hope to create active citizens who will harness their own voices to create change in the world.

Alisya Rodriguez

Project: A youth program designed to help children self-identify, raise cultural awareness, and help strengthen creative intelligence through cultural dance and art.

Inspiration: I am a lover of both dance and culture and I believe it is important for people to be sensitive to other cultures. I think the best way to open doors to new worlds is through art and dance. Participating in cultural dances that are different than your own can bring no harm and can spark motivation to dive deeper into learning about ones culture.

Future Plans for Project: I hope to help students become more aware of who they are and be able to explain where they came from and identify what certain traditions, symbols, languages and/or practices that their family participates in. From here I hope these students can compare the differences and similarities between their practices and others with an open and sensitive mind, all while having fun through dance and art.

True Apodaca

Project: I plan on using social media to promote a non profit Chicano art gallery to young artists and encourage them to use digital art as a tool to create awareness and provide a voice to the community.

Inspiration: Artists are the first on the scene to shed light on the social inequalities and movements. They are also the last forgotten. Colorado has one of the worst if not the very worst tax system in the country. One of the first things to get cut especially in lower income schools is the arts. The Chicano Humanities arts council is a non-profit art gallery in the Santa Fe arts district that provides a platform for local Chicano artists to display their work. The gallery also serves as a community space where other organizations can gather for meetings, fundraisers and other events. They provide art education to students now but they need to move forward into the 21st century and I plan on helping them do that.

Future Plans for Project: First things first, we need to create and establish a social media plan for short mid and long term. I hope to be able to set up a well oiled machine that any new communications team member can take over seamlessly. I hope to create program that maintains a digital media class which will teach local students basic skills of graphic design. I hope to secure funding for the program that will provide students who graduate from the program with a laptop computer and ideally the necessary accessories to pursue a career in digital media, graphic design or digital marketing.