Scholar Category: Gender Issues

Yoseline “Yosii” Rivera

Major: Sociology with a concentration in criminology and legal study

Project: For my Puksta Project I want to research campus safety on campus. I believe for a student to be successful they have to feel safe on campus, being in an environment that is uncomfortable can take a mental toll on students.

Inspiration: I was inspired to work on this social issue due to my not feeling safe on campus, I then started talking to other students and noticed this wasn’t only affecting me but so many other students. I want my project to not only shed light on my issues but on others as well, I want my voice to be the voice for others as well.

Future Goals: I want to create an app where students have easier access to asking for help with a press of a button. There are a few blue lights on campus but not many students are aware of them, also having it on your phone is easily more accessible. This app will also be able to use discreetly to prioritize the students’ safety without having to call anyone.

Paige Perricone

Major: Clinical Psychology, Spanish Language Minor

Project: The goal of my project is to educate others on ways to promote resilience and protective factors for LGBTQ+ and Foster Youth. By fostering the development of protective factors, and teaching adolescents how to effectively manage, adapt to, and bounce back from hardship, we can create opportunities that will allow these young leaders to prosper. Ultimately, the intended outcomes of the project will look to spread awareness of adversity in these communities and educate people on ways to incorporate a more supportive ideology into their own socio-political interventions.

Inspiration: My project is an extension of my personal experiences that looks to create positive change in these communities. My family runs a trauma-informed home designed to help facilitate the social rehabilitation of LGBTQ+ teens, pregnant teens, and teen moms. I grew up in a welcoming household, with a revolving front door, hence I want to carry on the legacy of generosity of my parents. I have experienced firsthand what it means to overcome adversity, and I am passionate about helping others do the same.

Future Plans: I am a compassionate individual, oriented towards building mutual aid through education and empathy. By exploring factors that affect the way different people cope with stress, hardship, and trauma, I intend to create a support network catered to adolescents facing these types of adversity. Ultimately, I hope to advocate in support of those silenced by harmful stigmas.

Nour Zouhou

Major: Studio Art

Project: I hope to develop a project to celebrate, protect, and project the voices, identities, and stories of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people through the arts and literature. I would also love to explore this with a focus on Arab/Arab American identities.

Inspiration: I have always navigated the world through stories. Whether through books, movies, cartoons, or graphic novels I have been able to make the experience of my world richer by indulging in the creativity and stories of people from all stretches of life even if I was just at home. Art is powerful and it has moved me to care for so much of our world and I hope that I can contribute to that so that our world can be more compassionate, fun, and equitable.

Future Plans: I hope that whatever work I choose to do helps strengthen communities, fights against erasure, and moves LGBTQ+ and BIPOC resistance and pride forward.

Jay Keodonexay

Major: Psychology & Gender and Women’s Studies

Project: I am currently working with a few different organizations in Colorado to create safe spaces for LGBT and BIPOC youth and allies to learn and gain access to resources. I’ve also started my own art business where I donate proceeds to local organizations that amplify QTBIPOC voices and share resources like transition funds and clothing swaps that are helpful for those in need

Inspiration: I grew up with my grandparents who immigrated to the US during the Vietnam War. Because of this, I didn’t have access to the education and support that I needed as a queer transgender man and it made growing up really hard for me. Through an online community of Trans and queer individuals, I was able to get the support I needed to be able to be the most authentic version of myself and knew I wanted to do the same for others.

Future Plans: I hope to create safe places for youth to gain the knowledge and support they need to be the best versions of themselves. Finding ways to make healthcare (both mental and physical) more accessible, connecting with the community, and sharing resources that are helpful, but hidden, are my big goals

Sunjoi Gandhi

Major: Computer Science & Socio-Legal Studies

Project: Partnering with Girls Inc of Metro Denver(GIMD), a non-profit organization focused on girls’ education, to create a three-year advocacy program for high school-aged participants in hopes of helping them find their voice, recognize how much power they hold, and how much they can change the world.

Inspiration: Through the curriculum, GIMD is able to provide, young women, primarily women of color are given the opportunity to learn how to cultivate their voices and begin change-making early on in their social-justice career.

Future Goals: So far, this is a pilot program so we are learning as we go. I hope the program continues for as long as possible and young women have access to this opportunity and curriculum for years to come.

Ari Gibson

Major: Business Administration and Management

Project: Through my Puksta project, I am hoping to help fill the current void surrounding LGBTQ+ education in elementary, middle, and high schools. While other topics regarding diversity are becoming commonplace in classrooms, the important aspects of diversity surrounding those who identify as gender and/or sexuality queer are lacking. I believe that introducing the subject matter to youth in health and sex education classes would enable them to learn about these different areas while helping start a path of self-discovery related to gender and sexuality. Through connecting with educators, providing resources for schools, and giving in-class presentations, I can introduce this content in a friendly, discussion-welcoming demeanor. If one isn’t aware that other genders and sexualities exist, they may find themselves struggling to understand why they’re attracted to certain people and feel certain ways about their gender. The dysphoria that can surround being queer is hard to manage1 2, but our youth need to know they’ll always have support from other LGBTQ+ community members, organizations, and allies, including those who are present in their daily academic lives.

Inspiration: Friends that are part of the LGBTQ+ community have helped me notice the lack of education about their gender expression and sexual orientation. They’ve also helped me see what it can be like to live with daily gender and sexuality dysphoria, making me see the importance for everyone to be able to express themselves, be called their correct name, and use their correct gender pronouns.

Future Plans: I would hope that my project helps youth identify their gender identities and sexual orientations while educating them about all the different forms of gender expression and sexualities that exist. I also want my project to help shift cultural attitudes towards those that identify as gender or sexuality queer.

Erin Roney

Project: To put together a nonprofit that will teach those who have been incarcerated the skills it takes to prepare for a job interview and provide interview attire for them.

Inspiration: After researching what the Puksta Foundation is about, I thought it would be a good fit for me.

Future Plans for Project: Help those who need help the most but giving them skills they can carry with them to have a successful life.

Evan Utzman-Nichols

Project: My Puksta project has focused on learning methods of prevention of sexual assault on college campuses, of course this project has ebbed and flowed within this realm. Currently I am focusing on the next task in my project, due to Covid-19 it has changed a bit, but I am focusing on getting the campus bars to undergo Blue Bench sexual assault prevention training.