Published: Dec. 19, 2019

The following students were nominated by McNeill students, staff and faculty for engaging in their learning and furthering their academic pursuits.

Blaise Hokkanen

Blaise Blaise Hokkanen is a senior within the McNeill Academic Program studying Political Science with a minor in Economics. She participated in the CU in D.C. program in spring 2019, where she was an intern for Congresswoman Diana DeGette on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. After completing her internship, she was offered a full-time position in DeGette's office for the summer, serving as the staff assistant. In this position, she was able to take over the internship program and work very closely with the Congresswoman and staff in an array of ways. Some of Blaise's most memorable moments in D.C. are meeting many influential members of Congress including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She also was able to witness some of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on the Investigation into the Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  If you would like more information on the CU in D.C. program or Blaise's experience, you can direct questions to

Nuvia Mendoza

Nuvia  Nuvia Mendoza is a 4th year student in the McNeill Academic Program. Currently, she is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Spanish. Nuvia has always loved to be involved and has been engaged in numerous opportunities. From being an Instructional Assistant for the SASC Writing Program, to being an Office Assistant for the McNeill Office, to doing an internship at the State Capitol alongside House Representative Monica Duran, she has always worked in positions that have allowed her to give back to her community. She is also a sister of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, Inc., along with being the president of the Multicultural Greek Council here at CU. Nuvia wanted to become involved because “your undergrad experience is one of a kind, so I feel like I need to make the most of it and take advantage of every opportunity I get.”

As a first-generation student, Nuvia has worked hard to get where she is now, and the McNeill Academic Program has supported her in those endeavors. As she reflects on her first year, she states “I felt the need to make myself smaller, less visible in rooms where I was often overlooked already. Being in a program like McNeill has helped me realize that I have every right to be here, just like everyone else. The academic and personal support I've received from staff and peers is unparalleled”. The program has given her the space to express and celebrate her identity without fear.

Nuvia will be graduating in May, 2020! If there are any questions about her experience, feel free to email her directly:


Marco Torres

marco On a recent visit to her local Starbucks, Veronica Perez, McNeill alumna, noticed that McNeill student Marco Torres had been recognized as Partner of the Quarter.  She shared the Starbucks flyer with us, ”The positivity Marco brings into our store is a force to be reckoned with.  It’s apparent he loves getting to know our customers and we cannot forget to mention that he is a pro at slinging drinks!  Our late afternoon regulars look forward to seeing his smiling face every weekend!”  

Marco is involved in McNeill and across campus as well. The McNeill program has been a great resource for him, with even a trip to the Dominican Republic. Torres is in Public Achievement, where students get the opportunity to learn and teach educational frameworks that help break down social injustices at the local level. He teaches middle school and high school students to work towards collective change on their campuses, addressing topics from Climate Change to AP/IB student representation. Marco is also one of the founders of Beta Gamma Nu Fraternity, Inc. here on the CU Boulder campus. Being in BGN has taught him the true value of himself and the importance of creating a voice that enacts change in the communities around him.  He has been a member of the McNeill Student Advisory Board (SAB) since 2018.  “I love being behind the scenes and caring for the community that has helped develop myself”.  For more information about Marco’s experience, you can contact him here.

Alan Jaimes

Alan Alan Jaimes is a 4th year student at CU boulder has had many adventures during his college career. Alan is a currently a McNeill Academic Program scholar, who is pursuing a double major in Biochemistry and Integrative Physiology alongside a minor in Philosophy. He is a student with passion, curiosity and determination. As a student, he has always wanted to give back to the community because he believes that… “all of us come from all sorts of background, we all come to together in unity. We create unification through diversification”. As a student in the McNeill Academic Program, he has been involved as a Peer Mentor, an IA and lead IA, a coordinator for the Emerging Health Professionals, and right now he leads a Co – Seminar for Organic Chemistry 2. From all the positions that he has had in the McNeill Academic Program he was able to find an undergraduate researcher position under Sarah Schoonraad, a previous SASC instructor. His research consists of “having a photo clicked tethered clustered RGD peptide groups to a PEG-Norbornene Hydrogel that can establish osteo/chondroneogenesis in growth plate fractures…” as Jaimes’ had explained. In simpler terms “I am making biodegradable protein/plastic that can regrow bone and cartilage” (Jaimes). If he is successful with this research, he would be an undergraduate that would be given first author status in a published primary source article. Which is amazing. Even though Alan is producing cutting edge research, his proudest moment is to participate in a multicultural program that he would personally call as home. As he says, “I am here so much, might as well change my mailing address to this place”. Alan has been so involved not for the mere fact that he was able to put all his involvement on a resume but be does it out of passion in which he credits most of his success along with “a tremendous amount of luck”. He is a curious student that is always hungry for knowledge and will pursue anything to obtain such knowledge regardless of limitation.

If you have questions for Alan or have any comments on his research, contact him at