Creating Connection and Belonging

Christina H. Paguyo (B.A., ’01; M.Ed., ’07) was born in Seoul, Korea. Her family immigrated to the United States, where her father served in the military. She spent her childhood at a series of military bases across the United States and the world, including Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. After visiting Fort Collins in 1998 and connecting with CSU students, Christina decided to transfer from a school in the Midwest. When she arrived at CSU, she made new friends in her residence hall and Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS), now called Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC). Her experience at CSU led to a remarkable academic journey and commitment to creating meaningful and inclusive educational journeys for others.

Originally, Christina immersed herself in academic studies and focused on getting good grades. After she began volunteering with APASS, then-Assistant Director Dr. Glenn DeGuzman (M.S., ’01) invited her to engage with campus life. To start, Christina joined the Victim Assistance Team (VAT) to provide confidential support and advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and the Pilipino Dance Troupe (PDT) to perform traditional folk dances such as tinikling and pandanggo sa Ilaw.

Couple at Red Rocks
Christina and Scott at Red Rocks

After she started dating Scott Burke (B.S., ’01; MED, ’06), he encouraged her to apply to become an orientation leader at Preview. “Preview was near and dear to my heart,” she explains, “because it helped incoming students navigate a new chapter of life that can be simultaneously exciting and scary.” She later became a peer mentor for the Key Academic Community, a living learning community designed to honor the identities and strengths of each student as they transition from high school.

After graduation, Christina and Scott stayed in Fort Collins, where she worked for the City of Fort Collins to support public relations efforts by writing press releases and helping to coordinate events such as the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay. Upon realizing how much she missed working in education, Christina pursued a master’s degree and was awarded an assistantship with Arlene Nededog (B.A., ’79; MED, ’83), Director of Inclusion, to recruit and retain underrepresented students into the STEM disciplines.

Couple standing on glass platform atop Sears Tower
Christina and Scott atop the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago

Christina later earned a Ph.D. in education policy at CU Boulder, where she was trained in qualitative and quantitative research methods, evaluation, learning sciences, and ethnic studies. During this time, she began working as an institutional analyst with professors Tom Siller and Becki Atadero in the CSU College of Engineering.

Through collaborations with Tom and Becki in engineering, and Karen Rambo-Hernandez, who at the time was a professor at the CSU School of Education, Christina has co-authored two National Science Foundation (NSF) research proposals totaling over $2 million dollars to design and research inclusive curricula for engineering and computer science students. She also founded Data Luminaries, a boutique consulting firm where she conducts inclusive evaluations.

In 2016, the University of Denver hired her as the director of assessment to lead academic assessment, curricular redesign, and accreditation efforts. When she left that role last year, she had served higher education for nearly 20 years. Christina now works full-time for a tech company, leading strategic planning and curricular efforts to activate and sustain a culture of belonging.

In her spare time, Christina enjoys practicing yoga and container gardening. She and Scott, who is a high school educator, have “dynamic conversations about how to understand learning not through test scores, but through feelings of hope, trust, and belonging so everybody can thrive.” She credits Becki Atadero, Brett Eppich Beal, Glenn DeGuzman, Rich Feller, Arlene Nededog, Jackie Nguyen, and Tom Siller for mentoring her and creating connection and belonging.