Galvanizing Tomorrow’s Civic Leaders: Celebrating Puksta Scholars

By Alex Aleman, Business Management

At the end of May, Puksta Scholars held their annual Puksta Passage Scholarship dinner to welcome  four incoming students and celebrate six graduating Scholars. Hosted in the stunning Tuscan Ballroom at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, the event was attended by over 100 guests including Foundation President’s John and Nichel Mulstay, Vice Provost Jennifer Karas, Puksta alumni, members of the University of Denver (DU) community, friends, and family.


Puksta Scholars and Supports Gather in the Tuscan Ballroom

This year, six Puksta Scholars graduated from the University of Denver, including Ciera Blehm, Andrea Bonilla, Daniela Medina Caro, Ismaat Klaibou, Emina Mujezin and Brendan Teck. Ciera, Andrea and Ismaat all focused their community-engaged work on the prevention of sexual assault and/or domestic violence, as well as provision of survivor support. Daniela created a mentorship program for high school girls designed to support their positive development. Emina focused on fostering increased knowledge of culturally relevant nutrition information. And Brendan Teck dedicated his project to promoting support for the unique needs of East Asian American college students. Each of these exceptional Scholars have made incredible contributions to the DU community, leaving behind legacies that will continue far beyond their respective graduations.

After dinner, each graduating scholar took to the podium and gave a short speech to share their words of wisdom to the Puksta community. This was a truly inspiring moment. As I sat in my seat, grinning ear to ear, incredibly proud of my peers, I began to imagine myself at the podium in two years as a senior, or perhaps even earlier.  The event also included remarks from Executive Director of the Puksta Foundation, John Mulstay, Director of DU’s Puksta Program, Kathleen Ferrick, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Jennifer Karas, and CCESL Director, Anne DePrince.



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After everyone’s remarks, John and Nichel presented each graduating scholar with a Puksta cord and, for the first time ever, each graduating scholar was given a Puksta pin as well. University of Denver Puskta Alumna Fatima Rezaie fixed the pin on each scholar as a symbolic welcome to Puksta’s powerful alumni network.

To close the event, Puksta Director Kathleen Ferrick introduced the new scholars to the Puksta community and presented them with a gift bag and Puksta gear. Welcome Camilla Rodriguez, Zoe Grisez, Maelah Robinson-Castillo and Mawusi Danso to the Puksta family!



Puksta Scholars Gather for a Photo after the Celebration

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