AWIS Member Spotlight

Cassandra Puletapuai

Doctoral Candidate
Colorado State University
AWIS member since 2023

“Dream with your heart unapologetically.”

Cassandra Puletapuai

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

My leadership strengths and core values create a positive mindset for myself and others. I cultivate emotional awareness, empathy, and compassion in my leadership skills. They are vital to creating positive work cultures, influencing teamwork performance, and improving outcomes.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

I recently became a doctoral candidate, a significant milestone in my educational journey. This accomplishment brought me closer to my dream of helping build multicultural STEM spaces by serving in higher education as a future multicultural Indigenous STEM mentor and scholar.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?

As a multicultural Indigenous woman in STEM, challenges with Indigenous science arise, diminishing a sense of belonging and value. My research centers on crafting transformative strategies and inclusive pedagogies to increase STEM pathways for Indigenous populations.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

Pursuing a doctoral degree in education has been the best opportunity in my STEM career. It was unscripted, but I am grateful to have invested in myself. I explore new concepts, collaborate in inclusive knowledge creation, and work alongside other STEM leaders.

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?

AWIS develops my professional growth by providing various resources to gain knowledge and guidance. These tools expand my professional network and exposure me to diverse research and projects. Additionally, the platform allows me to connect with other STEM mentors and peers.

What is your favorite word? (only one word)


How do you define it?

Hope is my North Star that empowers the educational voyage to who I want to be.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

Hope allows me to see my future with endless possibilities.

How does AWIS impact your career journey?

Reading the Wall of Wisdom or the AWIS magazine articles from other multicultural STEM leaders has impacted my personal growth as I feel empowered to embrace who I am and who I wish to be. I am encouraged not to be afraid to serve in a leadership role in my educational journey.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

I am listening to Beach House, Tame Impala, and Prince while reading tons of research books and articles relating to my dissertation topic with a pinch of poetry.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?:

Dream with your heart unapologetically.

Cassandra Puletapuai’s STEM journey has delved into geosciences, technology, and construction. Her scholarship focuses on transformative STEM strategies to build inclusive educational spaces, and STEM faculty development of underrepresented populations. She is a doctoral candidate in Education, Equity, and Transformation at Colorado State University, with an emphasis on Construction Management. She is excited to contribute to STEM’s diverse future as a multicultural Indigenous scholar!