Archives: Scholars

Scholar / Project

Valeria Bustillos

Major: Architecture

Project: I am interested in addressing the housing crisis. Affordable housing is plummeting; individuals and families are finding themselves stuck and unable to meet the costs of high-priced homes. There should not be a struggle to afford a secure place to live.

Inspiration: My biggest inspiration for this project is my community and those around me. I understand what this issue means personally and have seen it all across my community.

Future Plans: Living in a secure home should not feel impossible or overwhelming to keep, which is why I hope to combat home insecurity with my work. I hope to better understand and work towards a solution that would set families and individuals up for success with their housing situation.

Jazmyne Ewing

Major: Health and Exercise Science

Project: I’m thinking of pursuing Mental Health Awareness within CSU’s community. There could be some improvement in the CSU health network by providing a fund for the inclusion of more people of color to counsel. The system that the health network uses currently is time-consuming and difficult to understand for many students seeking help.

Inspiration: I’ve always struggled to reach out for help, so trying to get myself to go to counseling was incredibly difficult. I’ve been to the CSU health network at least three times since being in college and still haven’t received adequate help. The appointments take a minute to make, the appointments are inconsistent, I was with a different counselor almost every session, and I felt like there wasn’t any diversity amongst the counselors I spoke to. So, as a black woman. I didn’t feel comfortable in a place where I was supposed to feel safe.

Future Plans: I’d want people of color who struggle to fit into the CSU community to get the right counseling service they deserve. I’d also hope that having a fund would help boost the chances of people going to get help. This would also make the school look better in terms of the action they take on what’s important.

Cesar Rodriguez

Major: Biology/Pre-nursing

Project: I want to create an art exhibition of art that has been made from people who struggle with all sorts of addictions.

Inspiration: Growing up in a household grappling with the challenges of drug issues has fueled my determination to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Inspired by the lessons learned while supporting my family, I am driven to contribute meaningfully, particularly in light of the ongoing homeless crisis affecting communities across America.

Future Plans: I aspire to enlighten individuals on more effective approaches to address drug addiction, while also shedding light on systemic flaws within the American system. Through education and awareness, I aim to contribute to a broader understanding of these issues and advocate for positive change in our societal structures.

Adriana Fierro Mena

Major: Entrepreneurship

Project: What I would like to pursue for my Puksta Project is equal educational opportunity for minorities. From elementary and forward, motivating and providing resources to students of color to attend higher education and advanced classes such as honors, AP and IB in order to promote and have more diversity in advanced education.

Inspiration: What inspired me to choose this project was my experience in the education system. I grew up taking honors, AP, and IB classes which were predominately white. I always felt out of place and my peers and teachers never helped me feel included or smart enough. I would like to encourage and motivate students of color to take these advanced classes because we are all worthy of a higher education.

Future Plans: What I hope to accomplish is making advanced classes more diverse. By making these classes more diverse more and more students of color will feel comfortable and worthy enough to take advanced classes which in the long run benefit their academic career.

Reina Ortiz

Major: Public Policy

Project: I plan to learn about how different districts determine the conditions of their local schools. Through research and testimonial information, I seek to identify which policy method would work best for bringing equitable opportunities to all schools. On a large scale, education requires more local and federal investment, so that all children have access and opportunity.


Inspiration: Growing up I went to school to a densely populated public elementary school and then obtained a scholarship to attend a private school. This experience allowed me to see the differences between these two institutions of education, and how some children, given their economic background, are granted a much greater opportunity within their education. This difference had much to do with funding but was also influenced by culture, pedagogies, and expectations, all of which seemed influenced by race, class, and socioeconomic status. My hope is that all kids, regardless of background, have the opportunity to a quality education.

Future Plans: My hope is to learn more information about how the educational system affects younger children and in what ways it could be improved so that every child reach their highest potential. Through Public Policy, I’d like to learn how we can create sustained change for K-12 public schools in Denver and also across the US.


Giovani Valladares

Major: undecided

Project: Currently I’m working in CCESL’s youth organizing program to help high school student produce change in their communities. In the future, I want to work more with students on tutoring/mentoring to push more students to make it to college.

Inspiration: I grew up in more underfunded areas of Denver where opportunities were not readily available. I wanted to change the way I grew up for those younger than me as the few opportunities I was given changed my life. I want to be that change that I received.

Future Plans: I want to push low-income students to pursue their education. I want to give them the tools to be able to get scholarships and get accepted.

Aracsi Abrego

Major: Psychology

Project: In my Puska Pathway project I am looking for mental health areas. Specifically going into sexual assault awareness and domestic violence. I would love to work towards and find new ways to aid people and families in these intense situations.

Inspiration: This social issue sparked a passion inside of me because of my own history with sexual assault I wish I could have known what to do or who to turn to for help and different ways to find the solution to my problem. As for domestic violence, my mom has had a history of domestic violence and one of the main things that kept her in the situation was not knowing what to do or who to ask for help.

Future Plans: I hope to create first of all more awareness around these social issues but also to help find new ways to fight for the people who are going through situations like this. Also, find ways to give free mental health help to families.

Alexis Campos

Major: Entrepreneurship

Project: At the moment, the topics I am circling on are advocating for mental Health Awareness and Artistic Expression. However, I am thinking of merging both because I believe they can both be tied together.

Inspiration: I want to emphasize the importance of self-expression for the well-being of mental health, and a good and healthy way to do so is through art. The core sense of self and art are closely related. Art helps us all. It is very beneficial for us as it is a form of expression that fosters our natural need for self-expression and fulfillment to communicate feelings and sentiments towards anything. The world becomes a better and happier place to live in via the power of art. Art is all around us and open for interpretation, leaving a big void to fill, and allowing us all to get involved.

Future Plans: I consider art to be highly positive and the highlighter on the text of life, so I want to increase the inclusivity of all artists, especially among my community, family, and neighborhood, and immeasurably extend an artist’s standard without limitations. I want to significantly enable art creation as a healthy and accessible outlet of expression and shed new light on the art world.

Divya Bhattarai

Major: Accounting

Project: Spreading student loans and debt awareness in DPS High School.

Inspiration: The raising of student loans and debt in society inspired me to work with high school students regarding student loans. Student loans should not be normalized because it harms students after graduation.

Future Plans: With my project, I wish to get more students to apply for scholarships and find alternate ways to finance for college instead of getting loans. I want to make sure the students that I help graduate with high school knowing they don’t have student loans to worry about later.