The Tivioli Student Union at sunset with the Denver skyline in the background.
The Tivioli Student Union at sunset with the Denver skyline in the background.

CU Denver Recognizes Graduating Honors Students

May 8, 2024

Congratulations to the 29 University Honors and Leadership (UHL) students and 17 Honors Scholars Program (HSP) students that are graduating in May. CU Denver offers two distinct honors programs that provide different opportunities for students to challenge themselves during their time here.  

At CU Denver, it’s all about giving students choices to turn their dreams into reality. Students in UHL complete a series of interdisciplinary discussion-based seminars together to earn a minor related to honors and leadership. The UHL program requires students to complete challenging classes, attend workshops, and participate in community service work in addition to their degree program requirements. UHL students are part of a community that works together. Some of the perks include scholarship support, early access to register for classes, and use of the UHL House on campus.  

In the Fall of 2022, CU Denver began the Honors Scholars Program, which offers students the flexibility to create their own unique path that extends their learning in ways they define as meaningful. Upon successful completion, HSP students receive an honors certificate. Many colleges and departments offer additional honors options that allow students to achieve honors in their majors. 

“Having multiple paths to achieve honors lets our students develop their passions, explore new ideas, and connect to others in meaningful ways,” said Jennifer Reich, professor of Sociology and director of University Honors. “We are so proud of all our graduates and honored to be part of their journey. They’ve worked hard making an impact on our campus and community and will undoubtedly become leaders who can create positive change.” 

This year’s honors graduates will pursue careers in law, architecture, and healthcare, among other areas. Here are just a few of our outstanding graduates.

Student Spotlights:

Sakthi Asokan, of Aurora, will earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and minors in leadership studies and political science. At CU Denver, she volunteered with various groups, including supporting survivors of interpersonal violence and educating Colorado’s youth about sexual health and HIV prevention. Her passion for helping people, especially in times of crisis, has inspired her future. She will begin medical school at CU Anschutz in Fall 2024. 

Sean Burns, of Minnesota, will earn a degree in criminal justice with minors in computer science and leadership studies. While at CU Denver, he was co-captain and vice president of CU Denver Men’s Basketball Club and served on the Student Government Association (SGA). He completed several internships, including working as a homicide research intern and a pre-law intern at the Colorado Attorney General’s office. He has been the recipient of two MILO Awards and the Lifetime Lynx Award. He was recognized for participating in the Civics Committee of SGA, where he advocated for a reflection space on campus. This summer, he will begin work for the juvenile courts in Denver and plans to attend law school. 

Alyssa Howard, of Canon City, will earn a degree in biology with a minor in honors and leadership studies. While at CU Denver, she interned at CU Anschutz and worked on various research topics, including breast cancer, pediatric lupus, and brain tumors. She volunteers at the Denver Rescue Mission and, after graduation, hopes to continue assisting underserved communities. She will continue working as an EMT (she earned her license in 2023) to better prepare her for medical school, which she hopes to begin in Fall 2025. 

Hiba Hussain, of Aurora, will earn a degree in information systems and a minor in leadership studies. She held multiple roles on campus, including serving as a senator for SGA and as a student assistant in the Business School’s Dean’s Office. She was also president of Women in Business and vice president of the Information Systems Association. Hiba interned at Deloitte and Comcast. She is continuing her education as part of the 4+1 MS program at CU Denver, with a specialization in business intelligence. 

Luis Vargas, of Peru, is a first-generation student who will earn a degree in public health with minors in history and leadership studies. Vargas has supported the CU Denver community by working at the UHL House to support fellow students, as president of the CU Public Health Association, and by working at the Office of Undergraduate Research, where he helped students with their research. He has also conducted a variety of research on health impacts in minority communities. For example, he studied the higher prevalence of chronic illnesses, such as Type II Diabetes, in South Asian communities. He also worked with recent immigrants at a Denver emergency shelter, which opened his eyes to the needs of diverse communities. Vargas was also the recipient of the Outstanding Public Health Undergraduate Award and the winner of the President’s Sustainable Solutions Challenge Award for Environment and Technology at RaCAS in 2024. He will continue his preparation for medical school, with the hope of becoming a trauma physician in the future.