Archives: Scholars

Scholar / Project

Jennifer Cassidy

Project: Teaching computers skills to domestic violence survivors


Inspiration: Being a child of a survivor and a survivor myself


Future Plans for Project: Give these survivors confidence in their own abilities


Angelica Prisciliano

Project: Improve knowledge of rights and higher education opportunities of the undocumented community in Colorado


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 carreers and community.

Cicilia Saenz

Project: Creation of an after school program in low income communities for Special Education students and families.


Inspiration: My inspiration for my Puksta Project came from my own experience within the system as a student with a learning disability.


Future Plans for Project: I would like to create a community where students and their families feel like they are supported and informed.

Samantha Vidal

Projects: Creation of a youth program that focuses on physical activity and mental development.


Inspiration: I have a niece who is 5 years old and a nephew who is 4 years old. My niece is a swimmer. Swimming is not just a sport it helped her gain trust in others, learn skills and persistence. She is tiny and yet she still pushes herself to swim everyday better. She has learned to be patient and to believe in herself. My nephew is a funny little guy. He is not very patient when learning his numbers or something involving his thinking, but when it comes to soccer or some sort of activity he will give you his complete attention. You tell him some rules and he will follow them.


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.



Anthony Salazar

Project: My project concentrates on helping students specifically seniors navigating the financial aspect of college. Getting in is one step but anybody hardly talked about how to make it a financial reality which seems far out of reach for most students.  This tends to be the case a majority of the time. Although the thing really preventing students from coming to a University is a lack of education on how to make college a financial reality.


Inspiration: Coming from a low-income neighborhood there was an immense need for post-secondary option transition coaches. I only knew of one from my district who was hard to get help from. Seeing this as well as my peers struggle joking but being serious on how much harder it is to pay to college not get that acceptance letter. Inspiration sparked in me to help make a change to this.


Future Plans for Project: My main goal is to help the seniors in my current school and I hope it’ll have a ripple affect on upcoming seniors so they can see college is an obtainable goal.


Lluvia Macias

Project: In the CU community DACA students are currently facing real uncertainty with their futures. Since undocumented students cannot receive federal aid and are a small portion of the student body (at the moment), there is little support provided from CU in contrast with other universities. For this reason, I would like to help CU initiate funds and additional resources that will help support, strengthen, and grow the supportive community around undocumented students. My project would involve spreading awareness to faculty and staff to build a supportive platform for students like myself.


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.


Sana Zulali

Project: My Puksta Project will focus on the immigrant youth who are getting their basic human rights taken away. Such as how the United States is violating the 14th amendment.


Inspiration: Due to the recent political debate on children being taken away from their families and lifestyle, I decided to choose this as my Puksta Project because this is a major problem happening in the United States that will affect globally. As a result, less immigrants will get the opportunity to have basic human rights.


Future Plans for Project: I hope that I accomplish change in my community that will spread to others who hear our voices. I think that anyone can create change and I hope to spread awareness in order to make change.

Sara Hagos

Project: In an attempt to create a community in which people can learn more about their roots, I will provide resources and a safe space which encourages both collective cultural and individual growth. I also hope to collaborate with other diaspora projects to emphasize the importance and beauty of being involved culturally.


Inspiration: Coming from a high school with a total minority enrollment of 76 percent has opened my mind to a variety of perspectives that have expanded my intellectual capabilities. Experiencing all of these different cultures took residence in my heart and helped me on my journey of cultural identity. Being an American born Ethiopian had proven to be difficult at times because I had yet to truly be immersed in all aspects of my culture. Eventually, I became quite comfortable within Ethiopian culture, but not without a struggle. Therefore, I want to help other diasporas along with their journey of cultural identity.

Future Plans for Project: I plan on show all individuals, especially diaspora, how important culture can be. I also hope that this acceptance of ones and others cultures can help break past barriers such as xenophobia and provide a safe place to present your culture proudly.


Mateo Manuel Vela

Project: In order to address the lack of arts education in Denver Public Schools, I propose a writing retreat for youth of color in collaboration with community organizations working to increase access to arts education in low-income communities. The program would include writing workshops based on issues faced by students of color, including topics such as poverty and racism, as well as performance and mentorship opportunities through open mics and writing circles.


Inspiration:  My personal experience as an alumni of Denver’s youth slam poetry team, Minor Disturbance, inspired me to choose my Puksta project. Spoken word has greatly impacted my life, and I feel it is important that students of color are able to engage this art form.


Future Plans for Project:  I hope to accomplish the following from my retreat: a more connected network of youth poets of color in Denver, a safe space for youth of color to articulate their experiences in the current political climate, and the opportunity for students to be connected to the community resources to hone their craft upon returning home.