In the weeks leading up to the graduation of university students across Colorado, The Puksta Foundation will be featuring “Senior Spotlight” profiles, a special series of posts to celebrate our graduating Puksta Scholars and their projects. We are truly impressed by the work these students have accomplished as Puksta Scholars, and we are so grateful to have this opportunity to share these profiles with the community so you can get to know our Pukstas a bit better.
Please join us in congratulating these students and wishing them luck in the future!
Today our featured Puksta Senior is Angelica Prisciliano, graduating from Metropolitan State University Denver this spring.
Angelica shared the following reflections about her Puksta experience and her work as an advocate for Colorado students regardless of immigration status. This work has particular relevance and importance as DACA students await the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Trump’s 2017 order to rescind the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently allows around 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors to live and work in the United States.
My name is Angelica Prisciliano, and I am a Senior at MSU Denver completing a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Affairs. I grew up in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico with my mother and moved to Colorado when I was twelve. After finishing high school I moved to Denver to pursue higher education in hopes to broaden my opportunities in this country. As an immigrant and first-generation student in the United States, I experienced many obstacles while navigating higher education. Unfortunately, resources for Dreamers were very limited and confusing to access. Through my Puksta Project I want to have a long-lasting impact on my community’s experience navigating higher education.
My Puksta Project is designed to build a strong network and provide higher education resources for Colorado students and professionals regardless of immigration status. Along powerful community members, we built a team that strives to build meaningful coalitions, organize resourceful events, and actively advocate for equitable policy. In 2017 we officially named our community organization, United Leaders in Higher Education. We build our team with strong leaders in their universities or colleges and continue our work as a collective statewide.
One of the many challenges of this project was to reach institutions outside the Denver Metro Areas, vicinities, and popular university cities like Colorado Springs and Boulder. As all of this work is volunteer based, we managed to organize and carry out two large conferences hosting folks from all over our state, Michigan, and California.
Additionally, our work reflects in the efforts to hold institutions accountable for serving their undocumented students in a adequate and equitable manner. We each have assisted our institutions in creating, hosting, and promoting undocupeer trainings modeled after work that United We Dream and other folks have built for the community. At MSU Denver, we are beyond fortunate to have the Immigrant Services Program (ISP) which actively advocates vocally on and off campus for the 357 ASSET students that the institution serves (MSU Denver’s Census Fall Student Profiles).
Lastly, with our strong leadership we have worked on advocating for a national comprehensive reform and statewide policies that directly impact the life of Dreamers/undocumented/DACA students in Colorado. Our board members have organized local actions and traveled to Washington D.C. to demand a solution to the President’s order to rescind DACA. His action was challenged, and we currently await a U.S. Supreme Court opinion expected to be delivered soon. This decisionhas the potential to heavily impact the lives of 14,700 DACA holders and their families in Colorado (Migration Policy Institute). Our board members have also testified before legislative committee on behalf important bills such as HB19-1196 that extends eligible undocumented students’ access to state financial aid.
As other fellow Puksta Scholars, I have had the fortune to be able to connect my Puksta Project with my individual work at the university and with my community. I want every young person that decides to pursue an education to have access to the guidance and clarity that I couldn’t have when I was growing up. As I continue to be an active voice in my circle, I hope one day I can give back to the programs like IPS and Puksta that have supported and believed in my work. I will forever be grateful to John and NiChel, Tim and Alyssa, my mentor, and my fellow Puksta Scholars for providing me with a space to grow, create, and be myself. I envision that my experiences and what I have accomplished will translate into a successful career path in policy advocacy.
Angelica also shared the following resources with us:
- University Factsheet Census Fall Student Profiles 2018-2019
- HB19-1196: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1196
- Migration Policy Institute
Congratulations on the completion of your degree, Angelica, and thank you for your truly meaningful and impactful work in the community!