Scholar Category: Immigration

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.

Fernanda Maria Cerros 

Major: Political Science, International Affairs

Project: I am working to expand the opportunities for underrepresented members of the community to participate in community engagement.

Inspiration: I began working with an organization that focuses on resource allocation in the Latino community. This was originally what I planned on doing. I wanted to provide a resource for undocumented immigrants who couldn’t rely on government welfare programs. However, I fell in love with their model for bringing about change in their community. They focused on giving women in their community (that are passionate about change) the resources, education, and training to spearhead change initiatives. These women are women that don’t have a formal education and wouldn’t be able to bring about change if this opportunity wasn’t presented to them.

Future Goals: I think that academia is gatekeeping social change. Underrepresented members of the community without the knowledge and resources to initiate change often can’t. We are taught how to do this in college. What about people who don’t have that luxury? I want to create a permanent impact on the community. Providing a temporary service is great but change cannot be sustained that way. I want to create local leadership opportunities for those who don’t have them, creating a sustained model for social change,

Jose “Josie” Duenas

Major: Psychology and Computer Science

Project: My Puksta project centers around increasing the representation of Latine/Undocumented youth in institutes of higher education. The journey to college often centers on a one-size-fits-all approach to education which tends to create a sense of exclusivity against Latine and Undocumented youth. I aim to work with local organizations in order to raise awareness on the issue and aid youth populations within Northern Colorado who seeks to attain a college education.

Inspiration: During my time in High School, I have seen the deficits of the education system when it comes to helping my community attain a college education. My journey to college was filled with immense fear and uncertainty as I tried to navigate through a system that was not built to serve me. Furthermore, I have come to realize that my experience is not isolated through my work as an undergraduate research assistant studying the issue at hand within communities in Colorado. This is why it is incredibly important for me to serve as a catalyst towards change surrounding Latine/Undoc. representation in institutes of higher education. The system has disproportionately harmed my community since its inception and it is time to bring change.

Future Goals: Short term, I would like to see Latine/Undoc. individuals within my local community not only become more informed about all the components needed in achieving a college education but actually see the youth begin their journey to college. Alongside this, I would like to raise awareness of the ineffective system that plagues Latine/Undoc. youth within Northern Colorado. As I further progress through my project, I would like to see my community thriving as we aim to build a better life for ourselves and our families through education.

Dhiona Carter Jaramillo

Major: Biochemistry

Project: Immigrants tend to have an extremely difficult time accessing resources in regard to their mental health. Most times, this is due to the language barrier and common cultural taboo about discussing traumatic topics that have negatively impacted their mental wellness. I want to find a way to make these resources more accessible to the immigrant community by analyzing surveys, finding local English learning classes, and communicating more information about mental health to immigrant communities.


Inspiration: I come from a family of immigrants and I admire the sacrifices they make to build a life in the U.S. so their children can attend better schools and have larger accessibility to resources and opportunities, in comparison to what they might have had in their country of origin. The difficulties of securing jobs and houses, facing cultural and language barriers, and accessing services are not easy tasks to face, it is inspiring to me that my family and others have overcome those (and more) challenges.


Future Plans: I hope to make living in America a bit easier for immigrants. It can be uncomfortable living in a community where you feel as if you do not belong, it should not be that way and by providing resources I think it would make it slightly easier to settle into their communities.

Abighail Menghisteab Tekeste

Major: International Studies and Political Science

Project: For the upcoming academic year, my project entails creating a solid system of workshops that navigate how to make higher education accessible for senior students in ESL (English as Second Language) classes at Fort Morgan High School. The workshops will entail instruction on how to apply for higher education (technical school, community college, 4-year university, etc.) as well as different ways to help alleviate the financial burdens that come with it.

Inspiration: Working with Fort Morgan High School in my first year with Key Communities, I was made aware of the lack of certain amenities that students in the ESL classes were faced with along with the burdens that already came with being minority students (language barriers, legal status, academic history). I resonated with a majority of the students as I had also been in ESL classes before and I was better able to communicate and empathize with them. Whereas I lived in the Denver metro area and was blessed to have many opportunities easily attainable, the students of Fort Morgan lack that. This ultimately compelled me, even more, to work with them.

Future Plans: With my community engagement work, I hope to not only be a resource for the students but also help build their confidence in their abilities and demonstrate that the obstacles they face in their educational journey can serve as an advantage.

Fabiola Flores

Major: Political Science

Project: Helping immigrants from detention centers

Inspiration: Good space and supporting space to be in.

Future Goals: To help my community in any form I can


Mawusi Danso

Project: I hope to provide pathways for immigrant and minority students to explore and question assimilation and cultural competence within their communities.

Inspiration: Growing up my family and I often felt alone in our struggles with belonging. This only made it harder for me to function as a student and member of society. Therefore, I want students to identify their similarities early, but also explore the pressing issues regarding culture in educational and community endeavors.

Future Plans: I hope to reach out to schools and community organizations to start conversations with students who are interested in branching outside of the norm. Sharing of thoughts and ideas can hopefully lead to comfortable belonging and to challenge systematic difficulties that impact immigrants and minorities.

Angelica Prisciliano

Project: Student led state wide organization designed to build a strong community network to provide higher education and career resources for Colorado students and professionals regardless of immigration status. ULHE strives to build meaningful coalitions, organize resourceful events, and actively advocate for equitable policy.


Inspiration: Hard working immigrant community inspired me to want to do more work for equity rights.


Future Plans for Project: My goal is to reach my community and build a network where we can all advance in our careers and community.

Duvia Ortega

Project: Create awareness of college opportunities and support for DACA students


Inspiration: Little kids, and how they should know about college since they are small.


Future Plans for Project: To let them know what college is about and give them an idea that college is important.



Lluvia Macias

Project: I have been able to join a research lab through the Renee Crown Wellness Center through CU. As a team we were looking at feelings of trust or distrust between hispanic families and the school district. I worked on translating and transcribing interviews as well as coding them.


Inspiration: CU has a growing population of Undocumented students and must have a support system for them.


Future Plans for Project: I hope to gain Faculty/student/administrative support and get funds to retain undocumented students on campus.