Cecilia Valenzuena

Scholar Program Info. and Requirements

General Information

Puksta Scholars will be engaged in a rich, stimulating and important program of civic engagement. They will serve as models of civic and social responsibility promoting positive change within our communities. The work of the Puksta Scholar will effectively integrate learning in and outside the classroom resulting in an enhanced and illuminating educational experience and responsible citizenship. The Puksta Scholars is now recognized as one of the university’s “Special Enhancement Opportunities Programs.” Furthermore, in 2008, CU-Boulder received the Presidential Award from the federal government as one of the top three universities in the nation in civic engagement. Puksta played a prominent role in receiving this award.

The Puksta Scholars Program is administered by the following staff/faculty team.

Jennifer Cole Assistant to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education
Jennifer Korbelik University/City Liaison
Justina Boyd Coordinator, Center for Multicultural Affairs
Peter Simons Director, Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement
Elvira Ramos The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County Director of Programs
Andy Hemphill Puksta Scholar

There will befifteen 2013-14 Puksta Scholars. Each scholar will be assigned a Puksta Team advisor who will provide support and supervision throughout the Puksta experience. Most current scholars will continue working with their 2012-13 advisors. New scholars will be assigned an advisor and will also be paired with a current scholar (s) (a Puksta Partner) who will provide additional support and assistance during the program. Current scholars wishing additional assistance may also request to be paired with another scholar. All scholars are encouraged to contact each other for help and support.

Funding for the program is provided by the Puksta Foundation and the university.

What is Civic Engagement?

Civic engagement is defined as:

Individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Civic Engagement can take many forms, from individual volunteerism to organizational involvement to electoral participation. It can include efforts to directly address an issue, work with others in a community to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy.
Pew Charitable Trusts

Program Requirements

Within the context of the definition of civic engagement, Puksta Scholars are expected to:

  1. Actively participate in public service and contribute to the common good.
  2. Undertake a project that is significant in scope and devote considerable time and effort to their civic engagement work.
  3. Demonstrate leadership and initiative in developing, implementing and evaluating their civic engagement project.

Scholars are expected and encouraged to:

  1. Develop a project for which you are passionate. This is an essential element of a successful Puksta experience. Also, make sure that your project is realistic in scope and manageable.
  2. Explore and address the systemic and root causes of the problem(s) your project is focused on. For example, it is not good enough to just volunteer at a homeless shelter. In addition, you need to examine, reflect and hopefully begin to address the root causes of homelessness.
  3. Develop and implement plans to sustain and continue your project once you are no longer a Puksta Scholar. If you have developed a new program or service, how will that program or service continue when you are gone? Who will be responsible for continuing your good work? If you have created a tremendous mentoring program for middle school students, your program needs to continue after you have left. How will you address sustainability?

Responsibilities include:

  1. Devote an average of 6-8 hours per week to your Puksta project, which includes planning and preparation time.
  2. Attend Puksta events. This is a requirement.
  3. Attend meetings with your Puksta advisor. This is a requirement.
  4. Submit required project plan, reports and make a re-application/final presentation. All plans and reports need to be reviewed and signed by your on-site supervisor, if you have one.

Puksta Projects

Puksta projects can either be individual or group based. Group projects are encouraged, though they need to be substantially more extensive in scope than an individual project. If several scholars are planning a group project, they need to work closely with their Puksta advisor(s) to define the breadth and depth of their project.

Likewise, if a scholar is also involved in another program with a civic engagement emphasis such as INVST Community Studies or President’s Leadership Class, he/she may develop one project for both programs, but the project again has to be substantially more extensive and distinctive than a project done for just one program. It is incumbent upon the scholar to work closely with advisors in both programs to define the breadth and depth of the project and to effectively coordinate with both programs.

Scholars need to insure their projects are realistic in scope and manageable. Puksta Advisors are of essential assistance in this area.

Project Plan

Scholars will develop a one page draft civic engagement project plan which will be submitted prior to the opening reception. The plan must define:

  1. The civic engagement project.
  2. The needs it will meet for the client population and scholar.
  3. The community that will be served by the project (CU campus, Boulder, Denver…) and the agency/program within which the project will occur.
  4. The project’s goals both quantitative and qualitative including impact on the client population, community and scholar.
  5. How the scholar will integrate his/her learning in the classroom and community (apply classroom learning to the civic engagement work and vice versa).

Puksta Advisors will work with scholars to refine project plans as needed.

If the scholar will be working in an existing agency/program, establish necessary relationship and understanding with the agency/program supervisor including the type of work to be performed, time requirements and expectations of the Puksta Scholar. The on-site supervisor needs to review the project plan with the scholar.

The final project plan with the name/address/phone number and signature of approval of the agency/program on-site supervisor (if applicable) must be submitted by 9/27/13 and approved by your Puksta advisor. Scholars working in an existing agency/program need to provide their agency/program supervisor with a copy of the final project plan.

Freshmen Scholars

It may be difficult for freshmen scholars to complete the draft project plan, since you are just beginning your CU experience and education.  If you have clearly defined your Puksta project and can address all the questions, please do so. Otherwise, freshmen scholars need to submit a one page summary prior to the opening reception which describes:

  • The type of civic engagement you want to pursue and are passionate about.
  • Why you want to pursue this type of community service.
  • What needs will this meet for your client population and you?

If you have a passion for more than one type of civic engagement or community service and can’t decide which to focus on, please describe two areas of interest.

For many freshmen scholars, defining your actual project will be a developmental process involving exploring your interests and community resources and developing a civic engagement focus and project that is realistic and that you are passionate about. While doing this, those freshmen scholars, who do not have a well defined project, will be required to spend time in a service placement of interest which the scholar will coordinate with the university’s Volunteer Resource Center. Participating in a service placement will provide those scholars with the opportunity to begin their civic engagement and will assist in exploring interests, while they begin the process of developing their own Puksta projects.

Freshmen scholars, like all Puksta Scholars, are required to devote 6-8 hours weekly to their Puksta work. Your Puksta advisor will assist you in this effort including help with developing the final project plan. Freshmen scholars will meet monthly with their advisor during their first year in the program. We will also provide you with additional training and venues for discussion and dialogue with other scholars and staff.

Reports and Presentation

Scholars are required to submit progress and final reports and make a final presentation. Forms and guidelines will be sent to scholars and will be available on the Puksta website. All plans and reports need to be reviewed and signed by your on-site supervisor, if you have one.

Puksta Assistance Program

The Puksta Assistance Program enables scholars to access limited funds to support their projects. The funds can only be used to directly assist a scholar’s project activities. Examples include food for a project event, transportation of clients to an event or service, copying costs for project materials, literature, school or art supplies for the project’s clients or advertising for an activity related to a project such as a fund raiser. Each scholar can access a maximum of $265. Forms and guidelines will be sent to scholars and will be available on the Puksta website.

Puksta Conference Funds

The Puksta Foundation will provide limited funding for scholars related to their project. To access the funds scholars need to complete the conference application form.


Various events are planned throughout the year and are listed on the 2013-14 Schedule. They are designed to enhance the Puksta experience and support scholars in their civic engagement work. SCHOLARS ARE REQUIRED TO ATTEND THESE EVENTS. These include opening and closing receptions, joint CU/University of Denver/Colorado State University Puksta projects, fall retreat, training for new scholars, late winter retreat, four-six seminars, public speaking training and end of the year project presentations. The schedule will be sent to you and will be available on the Puksta website. 

Website and Listserve

Website: The Puksta Scholars website contains all relevant information about the program including events, a listing of scholars, requirements, forms and much more. The address is www.colorado.edu/puksta/ .
Scholars may also link their own Puksta website to the Puksta Program website.

Listserve: The Puksta listserve is used to communicate with all scholars and staff. Any Puksta Team member or scholar may use the listserve. However, it may only be used for Puksta business. The address is puksta@lists.colorado.edu.


Scholarships may be renewable based upon available funding and successful completion of program requirements. The re-application process entails submission of a Re-application/Final Report and a presentation. Note: all scholars regardless of whether they re-apply need to submit the report and make a presentation. Re-applications will be evaluated on the following criteria.

  • Quality of Puksta Project work.
  • Fulfill hours requirement of an average of 6-8 hours a week, which includes planning and preparation time.
  • Attendance at Puksta events.
  • Attend meetings with Puksta advisor.
  • Submit required project plan, reports and make a re-application/final presentation.


Scholars are eligible to receive the Puksta scholarship (based on yearly successful completion of program requirements and available funding) for a limited number of semesters as follows:

  • Freshmen – Eight semesters
  • Sophomores – Six semesters
  • Juniors – Four semesters

Please note that incoming seniors are ineligible to apply to be new Puksta Scholars.

Scholars must be enrolled as a full time student to receive the full Puksta Scholarship. To receive a full semester scholarship during summer term, a scholar must take a minimum of ten credit hours.

Scholars who receive any type of salary/payment for their Puksta project besides their scholarship need to contact their advisor immediately. Salary or payment for your Puksta work may impact your scholarship.

If a scholar will be gone from campus for any of his/her semesters in Puksta such as for Study Abroad, he/she needs to contact their advisor and Peter Simons as soon as possible.

Scholars who have completed their semester eligibility, but who will continue as enrolled students at CU-Boulder (i.e. five years to graduate) can still participate in Puksta as “Affiliates” and can partake in all Puksta events and are eligible for Puksta Assistance Program funding if they are continuing their Puksta projects. However, these “Affiliates’ will not receive Puksta scholarships. This policy allows us to better spread the scholarship funding, but also helps support those scholars who have completed their semester eligibility continue their important projects and involvement in Puksta.