Magazine Feature / People

Puksta scholar helps communities improve

Blanca Elena Trejo Aguilera, a junior international business major, says she wants to “make the world a better place,” and she rolls up her sleeves every day to do it.

Using the last name “Trejo,” the international business and political science major grew up in Denver with a single mom. After escaping a difficult situation during her senior year of high school and getting her own apartment, Trejo focused on graduating and becoming the first person in her family to attend college.

She also decided to help a lot of other people along the way.

Trejo became a volunteer community organizer with Metro Organizations for People and later became their staff youth organizer. With Metro, she has helped high school students advocate for cleaner bathrooms as she also promotes federal legislation for equal education opportunities.

“Essentially what I do is go into a community and work with youth to develop leadership skills and an awareness of what’s going on in so they understand the policies affecting them, and then give them the tools to change those policies,” she says.

Trejo has worked with students from West High School, Aurora High School and several Catholic parishes. At DU, she founded the Engaged Community Initiative, a Metro affiliate, and has helped students identify issues they care about, not only at the University but around the Denver metro area. 

Kristee Paschall is Metro’s director of operations and has known Trejo for more than four years. 

“I really think she could be president someday,” says Paschall of Trejo. “She has an appetite to stretch herself. Whatever Blanca puts her mind to, she will accomplish because she’s not afraid to stretch.”

Trejo was recently named an Honorary Puksta Scholar, helping her garner funding for the activities she organizes. ThePuksta Scholars Program provides the opportunity for Colorado students with financial need, like Trejo, to pursue a college education while developing a commitment to civic engagement.

“I’m passionate about education because I know that’s how I ended the cycle I saw myself going down,” she says. “If not for my teachers and organizers, I would not be where am now.”

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