The Puksta family has committed to supporting a scholarship program for undergraduate students who have a strong commitment to civic responsibility and high ethical standards. The program is also supported by the university. The Puksta Scholars program consists of a small number of students who will receive $4,500 annual scholarships, renewable for up to four years. Puksta scholars are people with strong academic goals, who want to be role models and who want to bring about positive change within our campus and society.
The education of students to be responsible citizens within our society constitutes a key part of the University of Colorado’s educational mission. Because our democracy requires citizens who have a sense of civic responsibility, we aspire to prepare citizens who have ethical standards and are civically engaged, as well as to graduate professionally competent workers who can contribute to the economic well being of our society.
The development of civic responsibility within students necessarily requires ethical and civic learning. Our students will inevitably face great challenges, many of which will have to be addressed from a sound foundation of high ethical principles and strong commitment to civic engagement, as befits a democratic form of government in a free society. Some of those ethical and civic challenges are age-old: creation and distribution of wealth; individual freedom vs. collective security; the social contract; war and peace. Others are new: bioethical – genetic screening and cloning; perhaps reaching the human carrying capacity of the earth; climate change; an ever shrinking globe and the myriad cultural and nation-state interplays that produces and many others. We want our students to be leaders in actively participating in efforts to deal with these issues and to do so from a strong base of knowledge, understanding and personal integrity. The University of Colorado at Boulder is positioned to provide this ethical and civic education.
In addition to more fully engaging the curricular and co-curricular offerings in the ethical and civic development of our students, the campus needs to have a cadre of students who embody the values and behaviors of an ethically and civically responsible citizenry. The Puksta Scholars are a key part of this cadre of student leaders. For these students, the campus and communities are laboratories for learning and practicing socially responsible behavior. These students serve as a catalyst for bringing about positive change in the campus culture and in our local communities, while acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences necessary for responsible citizenship upon graduation. What they experience and practice in their classes, in their residence halls, in their student organizations, volunteering in a homeless shelter, in bridging disparate groups, and/or in teaching underprivileged youth will be encouraged and supported by faculty and staff who serve as mentors and instructors. The ethical and societal issues with which they grapple in their courses or in conversations will have a broader meaning because of their exposure to the challenges facing our society.
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 Scholars will effectively integrate learning in and outside the classroom resulting in an enhanced and illuminating educational experience and responsible citizenship. The Puksta Scholars is one of the university’s “Special Enhancement Opportunities Programs.”
Each scholar must develop a yearlong intensive civic engagement project. Defined by the Pew Charitable Trusts:
"Civic engagement is 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."
In carrying out their civic engagement projects, scholars are supported by an experienced team of faculty/staff, other scholars and an enriching program of seminars, speakers, service projects and opportunities to collaborate and share insights.
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. Scholars are required to spend an average of 6-8 hours per week on their Puksta project, which includes planning and preparation time.
3. Demonstrate leadership and initiative in developing, implementing and evaluating their civic engagement project.
4. Attend Puksta events and meetings and submit required project plan and reports.