Scholar Category: Health Care Issues

Mursal Zeerak

Major: Biomedical Science

Project: I want to continue research to see what best ways POC can access employment in the medical field. I also want to help increase diversity in the medical field.

Inspiration: I chose this because as someone interested in being an OBGYN, I’ve come to realize that many people do not feel represented by their doctors. There is a large racial disparity in the medical field and I want to help make it smaller.

Future Plans: I want to show other POC that there are jobs available to them that don’t require a doctor’s degree. Everyone has been raised that being a doctor is the way into the medical field when there are various opportunities available.

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

Tyler “Nikki” Beavers

Major: Social Work

Project: I would like to maintain and expand my non-profit, JWB Recovery, which provides free support, treatment, and field trips for anyone struggling with addiction as well as their friends and family.

Inspiration: I have lost two uncles to addiction and have several other family members who have struggled.

Future Goals: I hope to educate the community and work to de-stigmatize addiction while providing accessible, successful treatment options.

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Alexandria “Lexi” Walker

Major: Nutrition and Food Science, Minor in Chem, Pre-dental

Project: For my project, I have researched nutrition, good oral hygiene practices, chronic diseases, homelessness and all correlations between these topics. I hope to be able to talk to local dentists and ask for donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss that people usually get after every hygiene visit. I plan to package and distribute these to the local homeless people that I serve at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. My plan is to give one bag to every person when they’re getting their meal an informational pamphlet regarding the importance of dental health & overall health. My goals and visions are to fill a void by supplying resources and educating others to help improve dental hygiene and the overall health of homeless and low-income people.

Inspiration: When my dad was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, it sparked my interest in the dental field due to the disease having a large effect on his oral health. Over the course of my education, I have come to realize that so much of our overall health is affected by what is going on inside our mouths. According to the CDC, oral conditions are frequently considered separate from other chronic conditions, but these are actually interrelated. Poor oral health is associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. As a local volunteer myself, I can say that there is no specific work being done on the issue of dental hygiene in Fort Collins regarding homeless or low-income people and families.

Future Goals: Every member of the homeless community will have resources and access for dental health care, Continuous supplies will be donated, Find someone to eventually take over this project idea‚ Dental Hygiene will contribute to their overall health‚ More Biofilm Growth Experiment: Streptococci Viridians‚ Peru, impoverished areas, learn more, correlations? I believe that a happy, healthy, confident smile can go a long way (:



Gelella Nebiyu

Major: Economics and Political Science

Project: My Puksta Project has evolved from the more general desire to address mental health within African Communities to utilizing youth community engagement to bring awareness to mental health. Furthermore, I intend to use an artistic lens to discuss the topic of mental health by using it as a tool and mechanism for the youth within these African communities to better understand their needs and hopefully find a more meaningful way of meeting them. I hope to achieve this by first designing workshops that allow the members of these communities (with a particular focus on youth) to learn more about mental health as well as how to use art as an expressive outlet. My passion for art has intertwined with my passion for mental health and I hope to unite the two as one to offer my community and other African communities a new perspective on mental health and the power of art as an act of self-care and even self-discovery.

Inspiration: After having lost a friend and member of my community to suicide, I realized that the entire situation seemed almost foreign to a number of my friends and family. I want to create awareness within the African community of the reality and the seriousness of mental health as well as the services available that aid in preventing suicide.

Future Plans for Project: I would like to see more African communities open to conversations about mental health and utilizing the services provided that address it.

Chelsea Situmeang

“I am the first daughter in my family to attend college and a first generation student born in the U.S. My parents emigrated from Jakarta, Indonesia to California in hopes of building a better future for our family. My parents do not have a college degree. They hold our Batak culture traditional values close to their heart even after leaving their country. My mother wanted me to become a Registered Nurse (RN) but I chose to follow my aspirations on majoring in Public Health and Ethnic Studies.The Social Justice project I would be interested in working on is the beauty standards in Asian American and Pacific Islanders women focusing on representation and body positivity in the media how it affects women negatively, like myself, and how it impacts their life for example their mental health.”

Margarita Soltero Gutierrez

Project: My Puksta project focuses on creating accurate sex education for Latina and African American high school girls as well as helping them learn about reproductive resources. This year in Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc., I helped with our Women of Tomorrow Conference by creating a pamphlet on sex education for girls to keep and take home. I also helped my sister on her sex education class and explained my pamphlet there! It had information on consent, birth control, STI’s and contacts. This is something that will carry on with our conference that is held every year!

Inspiration: After reading the graphic novel, “Waiting for Health Equity” by the Center for Health Progress, I was inspired by the following fact that stood out: ‚”Black and Latina teens are over twice as likely as white teens to become pregnant. This is due to the fact that non-white teens are less likely to have access to reproductive health resources and receive accurate sex education” (Center for Health Progress, 38).

Future Plans: Understanding the barriers to sexual health education can help inform development of a pilot program to reduce teen pregnancy rates among women of color.

Jasmine Tran

Project: My Puksta Project for the upcoming academic year will focus on enhancing the relationships between healthcare professionals and immigrants.

Inspiration: My family has greatly inspired me to choose my Puksta Project. I have been to countless appointments and first-hand seen the challenges of individuals whom deserve greater health care.

Future Plans for Project: I hope that everyone will move in the positive direction toward equal access to health care.

Lisa Marie Fertman

Project: To host 4 dinner/evening events for the Elyria district at Colorado Miners Community Center to improve nutrition of the families residing in this vulnerable area.

Inspiration: I have a deep passion about working with those who are homeless or living in poverty and the behaviors/symptoms that have brought them to this point. I personally can relate to these situations and desire to pay it forward.

Future Plans for Project: To increase physical activity and academics in this community.

Aliyah Williams

Project: I am conducting research on the various mental health policies that effect incarcerated people and ways to reform policy. Prison environments promote unhealthy behavior and recidivism rates that affect all communities. I hope to promote mental health awareness and provide incarcerated people with more opportunities to improve their livelihoods.

Inspiration: I want to debunk the many myths people have about mental illness and address the reasons why it is a serious topic that society needs to inform people about.

Future Plans for Project: Provide an outlet for people with mental illnesses to have a voice and advocate for themselves without fear of receiving judgment from others, but to also make mental health a more talked about topic by those who don’t experience the struggles that those with mental health issues face everyday.