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Bob and Bonnie Phelps Family CAP Awards

Championed by UNC friends Bob and Bonnie Phelps Family, the CAP Awards recognize students whose lives demonstrate an exceptional and exemplary personal commitment to:

  • Contribute… by volunteering time and personal skills, talents, abilities, experience and passion around issues in service to the community.
  • Achieve… by displaying a bias toward action and performance, overcoming obstacles and setbacks, and accomplishing goals.
  • Pay-it-forward… by impacting the lives of others in meaningful and positive ways through random and planned acts of kindness, caring, and “giving back.”

The Bob & Bonnie Phelps Family CAP Awards will recognize up to 3 students annually who meet the aforementioned criteria with a $5,000 scholarship and award plaque presented at the annual Community Engaged Scholars Symposium.

2022 Bob and Bonnie Phelps Family CAP Awards Recipients

The University of Northern Colorado through the Office of Academic Community Engagement is proud to announce the 2022 winners of The Bob & Bonnie Phelps Family CAP Awards.

Kayla Garza

Kayla Garza

"My name is Kayla Garza and I am a Biology major with a Pre-health and Biomedical Sciences emphasis, with a Chemistry minor. My hometown is Platteville, Colorado where I was an assistant baseball coach. Upon graduation in Fall 2022, my plan is to continue working as a full time EMT on advanced life support ambulance units until I attend graduate school. Every class that I have taken and every day that I have interacted with my patients, I have gained a clear sense of what it is that I want to do: serve, until I can no longer do just that. Through pursuing a Master’s Degree, I am aiming to enhance my understanding of human immunology and pathophysiology that will complement my current foundational knowledge as a future physician. My own health issues include systemic lupus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and Sjorgen’s syndrome have all made my academic successes and professional development all the more worth it. I aspire to be a physician (rheumatologist) that not only specializes in treating and diagnosing autoimmune conditions, but one that will forever be living in the shoes of my future patients. I have maintained a 4.0 GPA during my 3.5 years at UNC and I have taken on cancer research for the majority of my undergraduate degree, while volunteering as a phlebotomist for UNC’s Cancer Rehabilitation Center. Specifically, my research project that I have completed is titled, “[Circadian Genes in, EWD-8, Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells Demonstrate Rhythmicity in Vitro].” Disrupted circadian rhythms due to night shift work or artificial light exposure at atypical hours in the day has been shown to be linked to tumorigenesis or cancer; red light has been proposed to stimulate the mitochondria in such a way that it can aid in proper circadian rhythm generation. Improper circadian rhythms, or abnormal gene expression in circadian genes, has been linked to cancer; whether a disrupted circadian rhythm drives tumorigenesis, or if tumorigenesis drives such a disruption remains unknown. I have jointly been an Honors mentor for incoming freshmen as well as an Honors Scholar. A fun fact about me is that I am left-handed, and I am a painter!"

Ariadne Harris

Ariadne Harris

"My name is Ariadne Harris, and I am a proud first-generation college student. I am the seventh of eight children, and I grew up living with my single mother and grandmother. My grandmother worked as a sharecropper and was only able to achieve a 3rd grade education. My mother graduated from a segregated all black high school in the same town that I grew up in, Longview, Texas. Growing up in a still very segregated southern town as a queer woman of color was incredibly challenging. However, I loved learning, and my mother and grandmother always taught me about the value of hard work. I worked two jobs while in high school and on into my college career. I enrolled in community college in Texas and later transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C. where I completed my first undergraduate degree in sociology. During my undergraduate program I discovered just how much I loved working within my community and began my volunteer journey. I began volunteering with children who were economically disadvantaged and whose parents were formerly incarcerated. Upon graduating, I began working with veterans experiencing homelessness in the nations capital and I absolutely loved it. This population was incredibly important to me as my father struggled with substance abuse, mental illness, and homelessness. When I moved to Colorado, I began volunteering with the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking and then I began my professional work in anti-trafficking as both a safehouse advocate and later a community advocate for teenage girls coming out of trafficking. I absolutely loved working with youth, and I went on to volunteer with the Colorado chapter of the Anti-Violence Project with whom teaches non-violent communication in order to work with incarcerated individuals. Now, in my last semester of nursing school at UNC, I am excited to put my education and clinical skills to work. I wish to work in a hospital setting as an emergency room nurse and continue to volunteer with anti-trafficking and non-violence initiatives, as well as with those who would not be able to obtain care in traditional healthcare settings."

Shukuru (SHAQ) Rushanika
Shukuru (SHAQ) Rushanika

"I am a biomedical sciences major and in hopes of alleviating human suffering, I have decided to become a physician-researcher in the field of immunology. My first conscious encounter with healthcare occurred when my father was in a head-on car collision that placed him in a coma for several months. I took advantage of the time spent in the hospital, turning this profoundly challenging event into a learning opportunity. With permission from the hospital, I began shadowing physicians in their rounds. The compassion and empathy I received from the physicians at Swedish Medical lured me toward medicine. My inherent curiosity has made it difficult for me to separate a scientist and a physician. As a future physician-scientist, I seek to design and conduct translation research with patient interest. In research and clinical realms, I will strive to continue my passion for healthcare research, be innovative while maintaining scientific creativity and design, as well as the empathy and social acuity of a physician, and through my communication skills, become the bridge between the two diverging disciplines in medicine. My current project is titled “The Effects of berberine intervention on T-cell Activation and proliferation.” In my project I assessed CD8+ T-cell activation and proliferation-related to the turmeric compound berberine and exercise. I am also applying for graduate school and awaiting acceptance. So far, I have been chosen by the graduate deans of Princeton into their highly competitive prospective Ph.D. and the Mol Bio scholars program."

Raquel Eduardo Nunez image

Raquel Eduardo Nunez

"I am an Art & Design major with a minor in Digital Marketing, a certificate in Arts Entrepreneurship, and concentrations in Graphic Design and Art Studio. I am actively involved with campus activities and community service. I volunteered a total of 302 hours in the past years. Additionally, I had two art exhibitions and designed/painted a 28x7ft. mural for the UNC underground tunnel. It is focused on the acceptance of ourselves and each other because everyone is worthy of love. There is great meaning to this piece on the wall. It is a message to plant seeds of respect, compassion, love, dignity, and strength for future generations to harvest; because our actions and words are what we teach the future generations. As people walk through the tunnel they should realize that at this very moment we can influence those around us and uplift each other because we are not the only ones in this world. With my work, I plan on sharing this message and reaching people’s hearts. I am in the position to visually convey awareness that positive attitudes help people perform at the best of their abilities; we are the positive influence that can better an individual’s quality of life, building characteristics of a strong uplifting community."