Scholar Category: Immigration

Edna Agustin Chavez

Major: Mathematics

Project: I am looking for ways to support non-traditional immigrant students in pursuing a higher education and developing their expertise in the United States.

Inspiration: As an immigrant, I have seen so many barriers or it being impossible for immigrants to pursue a higher education whether it is economically or for not having a legal status here in the United States, and also to even have the chance to develop their expertise.

Future Plans: I want to develop a method by which non-traditional immigrant students can pursue higher education and at the same time, gain a work permit to develop their expertise and eventually get legal status in the U.S.

Hyab Tekeste

Major: Business Administration – Concentration in Accounting and International Business

Project: The primary problem that my research aims to address is the complex interplay between acculturation, co-ethnic ties, and their impact on substance use among immigrant students in the United States

Inspiration: I was inspired by personal experience. As an immigrant student myself, I had trouble adjusting to life in the U.S. and turned away from my culture towards some negative influences. I’ve noticed this as a common thing in immigrant students my age and wanted to understand it a little more.

Future Plans: I hope to create more effective support programs in schools and communities so that healthcare providers can be more understanding of the unique challenges immigrant students face.

Zayra Saucedo

Major: Internacional Studies

Project: In my Puksta Project I want to research on sources that are not available or limited to an immigrant and look into ways to make them accessible within my community and also others.

Inspiration: I come from a majority immigrant community, my parents are immigrants and I have met closely with other immigrants and heard their stories on what it took to get here. Being so close to this issue and seeing how my community is impacted every day drives me to aim for education and help them.

Future Goals: With my community and social impact work I hope to make resources for health care, immigration services and more accessible and easy to approach. But as well I want to make myself a person they can approach for help. I want to make myself a resource.

Genessi Hernandez

Major: Business

Project: Increasing the resources available to Latino immigrants in general and finding ways to help them gain citizenship. I hope to assist them with any injustices they have experienced due to their legal status.

Inspiration: My parents are immigrants who have sacrificed a lot to give my sisters and me a better future. I feel strongly about this social issue because the amount of hard work and determination that the Latino immigrant community puts into having a stable future deserves to be recognized. They should have the same rights as any other group of people.

Future Goals: I hope to make the Latino immigrant community feel seen and heard. Through my social impact work, I want to find at least a start towards justice for this community.


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.

Mayra Luna

Major: Psychology

Project: Some ideas I have for my pathway are something related to immigration. it can either be providing resources or food or providing information for people who want to become residents.

Inspiration: What inspired me was my own family. My dad is in the process of hopefully becoming a resident and my brother is in the DACA program. Also, I recently went to El Paso, Texas and I saw a lot of people from Central and South America in Juarez, Chihuahua, and on the border on El Paso and saw how people were struggling to survive in the cold and had no shelter and asking for people for money.

Future Plans: I hope to accomplish more awareness and people to learn how long and difficult the process of becoming a resident/citizen is. Many people don’t know the laws like I didn’t know and know the conditions of people who barely cross the border to the US.

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.