Scholar Category: Criminal Justice/Incarceration

Violet Gorrell

Project: Be a mentor to incoming scholars. Meet and encourage others to join the organizations I volunteer with to eventually take my place when I find a full time job. Create more networks within the movement to open doors of possibility after graduation.

Inspiration: I was reading Runaway Girl by Carissa Phelps, the book chosen for the year and was paired with Phelps coming to speak at the university. The book was an autobiography about her experience being trafficked as a young girl, and it tore at my heart to the point where I knew I could not ignore the crime any longer. The first year I just did research, since Human Trafficking is a very broad and complex crime.

Future Plans for Project: I hope to help Denver become more educated and progressive with anti-trafficking efforts. I am engaging society with discussions about the topic, supporting education and awareness, and I hope to continue helping non-profits succeed in the community.



Jhovani Becerra

Project: My Puksta Project will focus on engaging high school students to advocate for better school discipline policies/practices to be implemented in Denver Public Schools. The goal is to ensure that students have access to a quality education without any barriers. Another thing for this year is that I want to help prepare new college students in any challenges in order for them keep on track with their academic plan and prevent any chance of them to fall behind.


Inspiration: As an undocumented immigrant, I have been exposed to the social inequities in our culture. There are forms of systematic oppression that linger in our communities. Observing the excessive exclusionary discipline practices in my middle school has sparked a passion in me to prevent the appalling consequences these practices have on a students education. I want all schools to have a supportive school environment, like I had in my High School.


Future Plans for Project: The bigger picture of my project is to abolish institutional barriers in education so all students can have an opportunity to succeed. Slowly making progress through advocacy to change the cultural traditions to discipline to more progressive and humane practices.

Patrycja Humienik

“Dance is medicinal,” writes my pen pal, Patrice, from solitary confinement. According to the Prison Policy Initiative’s 2017 report, Patrice is one of over 2.3 million people in the clutches of the U.S. criminal justice system. Dances for Solidarity-Denver is the local chapter of a national initiative sharing dance through letter writing with people in solitary confinement, who are excluded from prison programming. We share a 10-step movement sequence through letters, and our pen pals add to the list. We are working on a collaborative performance project with our pen pals in solitary confinement.

James Artis III

Project: With my project I am aiming towards mending the relationship between law enforcement and the black community. Through this African-American male leadership program called Brotherhood I go into schools and help teach young high school students lessons around social justice, identity and the importance of higher education. We also held community forums and local schools that served as open spaces for parents, community members, teacher and students alike to voice their concerns about the issues going on in their neighborhood to police offers, members of city council, the DA’s office etc.

Inspiration: My life changed on June 22, 2010. That was the day Micah, my older brother and male role model, was shot. My Puksta Project is informed entirely by what happened that day and in the days since—that’s why I’m devoting myself to ending violence in neighborhoods and areas where it’s prevalent today… and make it history tomorrow.

In these last 4 years over 500 African-American males have been killed by police and law enforcement. We are often misrepresented in mass media as thugs murderers unintelligent and pathetic. These types of ideals add in to why police perceive us as dangerous. I want to dismantle these type idealistic views.

Future Plans for Project: I hope to open the eyes of Black youth and help them understand their potential and embrace their culture.

Blanche Marie Ndoutou

Project: I hosted events in which about 10-15 youth in my neighborhood of Sun Valley attended. The goal of the event was to teach them about the realities of the justice system and how they could protect themselves. The youth gave me feedback that they want me to continue hosting the events each year.

Future Plans for Project: I hope to make a difference to the people around me. I hope to make people around me happy and I hope to be satisfied with the work I’ve done.

Andrea Bonilla

Project: Analyzing surveys provided from high school students and their knowledge on SA and DV within low income schools and those in upper class school districts. Also working on presentations and discussing these topics within the classrooms.

Inspirations: I worked at a police department for 2 years and with my time there I was able to see first hand how many individuals were being impacted as primary or secondary survivors of these issues. I wanted to do something about this and educate others in learning about the resources and signs of how this may look before or after the abuse.

Future Plans for Project: To really encourage high school students to be confident in being able to become bystanders and have the knwoledge and ability to help their peers if anything ever comes their way.