Scholar Category: Youth Mentoring

Timothy Chavez

Major: Business

Project: Working with a partner and taking the task of getting the youth in some communities out of gangs, violence, and drugs. Focus on the areas where we used to live and help with those communities.

Inspiration: I come from an area where I’ve seen a lot of youth violence and was close to being a part of it and I want to end the cycle of young kids dying. I have family members on the same path and I hope to get them out of that life.

Future Plans: I hope to get kids off the streets and give them a chance in this life without death or prison. I really want to make a difference in these kids life to know there is another way out.

Jusiah Alarcon

Major: Engineering

Project: Helping kids get out of gangs and better their lives.

Inspiration: Because I was once in their shoes, I used to be like that but I changed… so they can too.

Future Plans: To show kids that it is not the only option, we can break the cycle.

Jennifer “Jen” Adame

Major: Social Work

Project: I’m planning on bringing awareness on homelessness and find a way to supply any necessities for those in need.

Inspiration: I took a social work class and homelessness is a current issue in Colorado. I want to support those who are experiencing homelessness.

Future Goals: I hope to build experiences to make myself more prepared for the social work field. Also, I hope to learn new things and expand on it

Andrea Flores Pereida

Major: Sociology with a Concentration in Criminology

Project: Develop stricter and more organized regulations in my community to reduce the chances of gun violence. Supporting gun violence survivors.

Inspiration: My family was a victim of gun violence and we never got the justice we deserved. Also, we live in a world of uncertainty and fear so it’s important to address the bigger issues that add to that fear.

Future Goals: I want to be a tiny part of the change to make the world a better place in terms of gun violence. I want to help bring a little bit of ease and peace back to people in my communities.

Nina Patterson

Major: Business

Project: My idea right now is trying to figure out a way to educate families and students specifically POCs on AP and concurrent enrollment classes. In order to increase the number of POCs that choose to further their education in college and how these classes can help them with that.

Inspiration: Growing up I had always chosen to take AP/Honors courses and in all those years I was usually one of the only POC in my classes and I didn’t notice it until about my senior year. And most of my peers didn’t take them because they were scared away by them being harder and counselors telling them that the regular classes would be easier for them. When in all reality they were not educated on the classes and how they could help them in the future.

Future Goals: I want to show POC students that they are worthy and just as capable as any other students to take those advanced courses and succeed in them. And I want families to have more education on the classes that their children are taking and the impact that they have on their futures.

Anahi Alvarez

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Project: For my Puksta Project, I am planning on mentoring students at a specific high school and providing seniors with college prep, advice, and resources on how to prepare for college. I especially want to help first-generation students and students from low-income households find scholarship opportunities available at their college of choice.

Inspiration: What inspired me to choose this project was thinking back to my senior year in high school and really wanting to attend a 4-year university. The only barrier I had, was being able to afford it. There were many resources provided by my school, but I would’ve never known, if I didn’t do the research myself. I know how difficult it is to make a college decision, so I want to make this process simpler for students who want to attend university.

Future Plans: I hope to increase the number of first-generation students in predominantly white universities and allow them to be an example for future generations. I also hope to lift some weight off student’s shoulders and reassure them throughout the college application process.

Autumn Wilson

Major: Zoology

Project: The project I am pursuing is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, specifically focusing on the Indigenous community that lives in northern Colorado. I will be a mentor and lead community events, and provide a space for Indigenous peoples to come together and heal, give preventative courses and resources, and provide overall support for the Indigenous community.

Inspiration: I am an Indigenous woman who has seen my community members be hurt mentally and physically by others, I have seen little to no coverage of Missing and Murdered Indigenous peoples in the media and news. I think that education is very important, if I can educate the community Indigenous and non-Indigenous about these issues there can be a change.

Future Plans: I hope that I can accomplish educating the community, and provide a safe place where triggering conversations can be held. I hope to teach those around us what actions to take when placed in a harmful situation, to decrease the number of community members that have faced violence.

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.

Zoë Stelzer

Major: Finance

Project: I would like to pursue working with internationally adopted children. Typically, these children are underrepresented and lack knowledge about their culture and birth countries. Partnering with organizations like CCAI can give access to more resources such as heritage tours. I also want to work towards making these programs more affordable.

Inspiration: Growing up, I was very privileged to be able to attend cultural classes, mandarin lessons, and even go on a heritage tour in China. While these are not affordable and in recent years have started to go away, I think they are very important for young children and I want to share the same opportunities I had with others.

Future Goals: I would like to partner with CCAI and get the heritage tours back up and running. I think I can help bridge that translation and cultural divide with American parents and internationally adopted children. I think working towards making these more well-known and affordable would be a great start in my Puksta journey.

Emanuel Walker

Project: My Puksta Project focuses on the racial disparities amongst students of color regarding retention and college completion. I’m currently developing a one-year comprehensive program for full-time African American freshmen that emphasizes experiential learning, research, multicultural engagement, and personal development. It includes a reward and accountability system to track academic performance and encourage students to explore pathways and careers early on. We would be helping students establish their “why” to have the motivation, leadership skills, college readiness, and confidence they need to land internships and be successful in the rest of their academic career.


Inspiration: My personal experiences and data are what inspire me. From my personal life, I am a student who used to struggle in school. I graduated high school with a 1.6 GPA and attended a college that did not help me succeed. It wasn’t until I attended a Community College that led me to a first-generation leadership program that equipped me with the skills to graduate top of my class and speak at graduation. I’ve seen many of my fellow African American students disappear, dropout, and end u lost due to lack of support and information. Schools take pride in their diversity, but some lack the data to back it up from what I’ve seen on the state level. The data shows that African American Studen Retention is down 12% for second years at MSU Denver. It also shows that African American students are least likely to take advantage of school resources, internships, and other programs designed to help them succeed. However, on the contrary, students of color who are engaged in clubs or take a multicultural class, engage in a research project, internship, or study abroad are twice as likely to graduate and stay in school than their peers.

Future Plans: I hope to set a foundation for real equity and student empowerment. I want to create a program that fosters the next generation of MSU Denver Leaders and puksta scholars, doctors, mayors, and lawyers. I would like to see an increase in African American 2nd to 4 Year retention and African American Graduation rates starting the beginning of this program. MSU Denver is one of the most diverse campuses in colorado, with students from all walks of life; it’s time for us to pour into our diverse pipeline so they can pour into our local communities and ultimately back into us. I hope to set a statewide precedent of what it looks like to take an underrepresented group of students and transform them into scholars and leaders in their future industries.