2019-2020 CCESL Student Fellows

Katy Constantinides
Issue Area: Gender Equity
Faculty Champion: Nancy Reichman, Sociology & Criminology and Colorado Women’s College

Katy is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in International Studies, as well  as Gender and Women’s Studies. As the gender equity fellow for CCESL, she is assisting the Colorado Women’s College in the creation of interactive gender equity labs designed to promote the reimagining of home and the workplace. Katy is passionate about promoting the well-being and empowerment of marginalized communities by working to deconstruct systems of privilege and oppression, and her work is deeply rooted in intersectional feminist theory and queer theory. Outside of her work as a fellow, Katy is part of the Collegiate Council on Gender Violence Topics and is currently writing her senior thesis in International Studies. In her free time, she loves to sing with her a cappella group, read, and write mediocre poetry.

Mia Edwards
Issue Area: Gentrification
Faculty Champions: Lynn Schofield Clark, Media, Film, & Journalism Studies, Erika Polson, Media, Film, & Journalism Studies, and Carlos Jimenez, Media, Film, & Journalism Studies

Mia Edwards is a second-year graduate student pursuing her MA in International & Intercultural Communications jointly in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Media, Film & Journalism School at the University of Denver with a concentration in Global & Multicultural Strategic Communications. Alongside her graduate degree, Mia is in the process of completing the Global Business, Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility certificate where she hopes to gain insight into new global business strategies and practices. Currently, Mia serves as the Communications Intern at Newmont Goldcorp where she is assisting with change relations and internal strategy. As the 2019-20 Community-Engaged gentrification Fellow at CCESL, Mia works with her faculty champions on unique projects relating to communities affected by gentrification in Colorado, including empowering day laborers to tell their own stories through digital platforms and helping plan the 2019 Colorado Migrahack event. Mia and her faculty champion, Dr. Erika Polson, recently presented their research on gentrification, street art, and Instagram specifically in the RiNo neighborhood at the “Aesthetics for Gentrification” conference in Portland. For more information visit Mia’s DU portfolio page.

Allie Elliot
Issue Area: Arts & Engagement
Faculty Champions: Ashley Hamilton, Theater and Apryl Alexander, Graduate School of Professional Psychology

Allie Eliot is a second-year student pursuing her M.A. in International and Intercultural Communication from the University of Denver. In 2017, she received her BFA from the Dance Division at the Juilliard School, under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes. As the 2019-2020 CCESL Fellow for Arts and Engagement, Allie is working closely with Dr. Ashley Hamilton and the staff of the DU Prison Arts Initiative (PAI), supporting the exciting work that PAI is doing to shift the conversation on who is in prison. Allie is a firm believer in the power of communication in all its forms as an agent for social change and in her work as a CCESL Fellow, hopes to facilitate powerful and meaningful conversations within the DU and broader Denver communities. If you’re interested in learning more about Allie, the DU Prison Arts Initiative, or the CCSEL Fellows program, contact her at allie.eliot@du.edu!

Patrica Garcia
Issue Area: Health Disparities
Faculty Champions: Nancy Lorenzon, Biological Sciences, and Julia Roncoroni, Counseling Psychology

Patricia Garcia is a second year master’s student in the Counseling Psychology program at Morgridge College of Education. She is the 2019-2020 CCSEL Student Fellow on Health Disparities. Her academic interests include Diversity, Social Justice and a specialization in Substance use counseling. Patricia is also an APA Minority Fellow in the Service for Transition Age Youth (STAY) program which focuses on working with youth 16 to 25 years old and their families. As a bilingual individual (Spanish), she is interested in helping Hispanic communities where language becomes a barrier for access to physical and mental health services. As well as, advocating to end mental health stigmas present within communities. For more about Patricia visit her portfolio here

Meghan McCarroll
Issue Area: Urban Sustainability
Faculty Champions: Cara DiEnno, CCESL, Chad King, Center for Sustainability,  Becky Powell, Geography and the Environment, Drew Mueller, Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management

Meghan is a second-year PhD student in geography, researching water literacy levels of urban populations in drought-prone regions. Her prior work has focused on community education and outreach within water management both locally in Colorado, as well as abroad in Australia, and now South Africa. She believes that by involving local communities within water management practices, relationships are strengthened, water projects are improved, and power is shifted to include local community members as decision-makers. She is now working with CCESL as a 2019-2020 Community-Engaged Fellow in Urban Sustainability, focusing on engaging local Denver communities with photovoice research. In her free time, you can find Meghan in the mountains hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding. To contact her or learn more, visit her portfolio page.

Gretchen Schrafft
Issue Area: Writing & the Public Good
Faculty Champion: Daniel Singer, Writing Program

Gretchen Schrafft is a second year PhD student in Literature and Creative Writing. As the 2019-2020 Writing & the Public Good Community-Engaged Fellow, she works with Dr. Daniel Singer to support the Clinic for Writing and the Public Good, a learner-driven website that works to advance public good causes through writing. A fiction writer and journalist, she has previously taught creative writing and composition at Seattle University, Highline College, and Oregon State. She also has experience working in writing centers – most recently, here at DU. To learn more about Gretchen, you can visit her website.

Suraj Thapa
Issue Area: Meeting Basic Needs
Faculty Champion: Kimberly Bender, Graduate School of Social Work

Suraj is a first-year MA student in GFTEI program at Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He is originally from Nepal. Suraj is working with Dr. Kimberly Bender and her team to analyze quantitative and qualitative data previously collected from young people experiencing homelessness about barriers and facilitators to housing. They plan to start going back to the community from winter quarter to implement their findings. Suraj plans to use these experiences of community engagement for greater good on building communities all over the world. Suraj is also highly engaged on research with different professors and works at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures. You can find Suraj watching Barcelona soccer on weekends and some weekdays. He also loves to cook for friends and families! To contact him or learn more, visit his DU portfolio or LinkedIn.

Jacob Tucker
Issue Area: Urban Sustainability Fellow
Faculty Champions: Cara DiEnno, CCESL, Chad King, Center for Sustainability, Becky Powell, Geography and the Environment, Drew Mueller, Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management

Jacob is a second-year MA candidate in Economics. As the 2019-2020 CCCESL Community-Engaged Urban Sustainability Fellow, his focuses are on regenerative ecology, sustainability broadly, and diversity in both natural and human systems. Currently, he is working with the Beyond GDP team exploring indicators of both human and ecological well-being that may be integrated at a state-wide level. Jacob’s personal research interests are quite diverse and interdisciplinary, but the epicenter of his research flows from the work within the fields of Marxian Ecology, Feminism, and Environmental Philosophy. Much of this work seeks to understand the historicity of human practices and institutions, specifically, how the idea of ‘human’ became something dissimilar to nature. Outside of academia, Jacob spends much of his time hiking, reading, writing poetry, gardening, and watching Premier League Football. Contact Jacob by emailing jacob.tucker@du.edu or visiting his portfolio page.

Isaac Vargas 
Issue Area: Immigration
Faculty Champions: Liz Escobedo, History, Alejandro Ceron, Anthropology, Sergio Macias, Languages and Literature

Isaac Vargas is a fourth-year undergraduate study studying Political Science, Journalism, and Religious Studies. As an immigration fellow, he is working to assist faculty champions connect students to our community partner, Casa de Paz, which is a Denver non-profit providing support to migrants leaving the GEO detention center in Aurora. Isaac is passionate about immigrant rights and fighting for educational equity. In his free time, he loves music, reading plays, and writing slam poetry which he regularly performs on and off campus. To contact him or learn more, follow him on Twitter or email him .

Manda Wittebort
Issue Area: Access & Education
Faculty Champion: Laura Sponsler, Higher Education

Manda Wittebort is a second year master’s student in the Higher Education program at Morgridge College of Education. She is the 2019-2020 CCSEL Student Fellow on Access & Education. Her academic interests include Critical Community & Civic Engagement that are centered in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Internationalization in Higher Education and Students’ Sense of Belonging & Purpose. Manda is also a DU DialogUes Program Coordinator in the office of Equity Inclusion Education, which focuses on providing opportunities and skills for students to engage across difference. She also lives with 26 Sophomore Students in Global Res, a themed living community focused on intercultural learning, where she is their Program Coordinator. As a Community Engaged Practitioner-Scholar, Manda aims to foster students’ self- agency and social awareness to build civic capacity, and to collaborate with communities on innovative solutions that address immediate needs and root causes in order to fulfill both her own and higher education’s responsibility to the public good. For more about Manda visit her portfolio.