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Cameron Jesse & Joanna Lucero Manito Scholarship

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Manito Rainbow Scholarship:
In loving memory of Cameron Jesse and Joanna Lucille Lucero
This scholarship is for those who self-identify as queer or trans, who have ties to S. Colorado and N.Mexico or a particular affinity for the Manito culture.
We will be raising funds for a scholarship.
This scholarship is dedicated to: Cameron Jesse and Joanna Lucero

Cameron Michael Jesse
Cameron was born on August 16, 1997. He was majoring in Sociology at MSU Denver and was a devoted community activist for gay rights, children's rights and environmental justice.
His ancestral roots go back hundreds of years to the San Luis Valley of Colorado and New Mexico. As a Manito, he recognized the woven beauty of his cultural heritage and his peoples long history of survival by supporting each other through times of hardship. “This scholarship means a lot to me,” Cameron wrote before he died on Sept. 24, 2023. “ To me a child who was bullied, ridiculed and degraded in school all my life because I was gay, I know what it is like to be an outsider. But when I came to college with other Mantio students, I got it. Together we could make a safe and accepting space for others experiencing the same challenges and adversities we had experienced. That is the Manito way.”

As a university student, he finally found his place in life. He was accepted for who he was, not what he was. Working with the Journey Through Our Heritage program he developed leadership skills and a dedication to help those less fortunate than himself. He died while doing research for this scholarship. Cameron had set future timelines and goals to graduate from college and become a voice for the LGBTQ+ community. Because of his untimely death at the age of 26, his aspirations to champion for those who needed to be championed were cut short. He planned on moving to the Valley to help other LGBTQ+ youth and honor his Manito heritage. May you who receive this scholarship carry on his dream to be a voice for change.

Cameron Jesse began working on this scholarship to honor the family descents of the matriarch Sarah Lopez Dussart, whose family has roots in New Mexico and S. Colorado dating back to the 1600s. Among these descendants is Joanna Lucero:

Joanna Lucero, of Denver, died on November 22, 2023, after a fiercely fought battle with cancer. She was surrounded by family and her partner of three decades, Delores Flores( Denver, Co.)

Born May 9th 1938, Joanna was Avel and Lucy Lucero’s youngest child in a family of many brothers: She is preceded in death by her parents, and brothers Avel ‘Napoleon,’ Michael, and John. She is survived by her cousin John Fajardo (Broomfield, Co.) Goddaughte Kali Fajardo-Anstine ( Arvada, Co.) and Godson Mark Fajardo ( Longmont, Co.)In addition, she is survived by a plethora of adoring cousins and countless friends.

She graduated from West High School in 1957, worked as a bartender at some of the Metro area's first Lesbian bars and was a frequent contributor to the magazine Lesbians in Colorado. In the 1990s she was extensively interviewed by renowned queer author Katie Gilmartin, who was documenting gay life of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in Denver.

From an early age, Joanna showed an interest in mechanics and electronics. This passion propelled her to eventually seek a career as an electrician at Rocky Flats, at a time when very few women and people of color were welcomed into the trades. Joanna carved the way for other women in STEM through her decades in the field and later her advocacy work at Mi Casa Resource Center, where she helped train women seeking to enter similar career paths.
A larger-than-life personality with an unrivaled joie de vivre, Joanna was an avid Broncos Fan, a devotee of heading ‘up the hill’ for video poker, and took great joy from serenading her family & friends with her favorite Sinatra songs. She loved Cher, Betty Boop, classic movies, good jokes, green chili, ancient Egypt, John Wayne, her familia, and God. She will be dearly missed and always loved.

In lieu of flowers: Please remit checks to

Regis University Advancement
Rainbow Manito Scholarship Fund
Att. Roger Smith
3333 Regis Blvd. B-12, Denver, CO 80222

This scholarship was set up by Joanna Lucero and Cameron Jesse prior to her death to support students who advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ communities



  • Eosther Anstine
    • $185 
    • 30 d
  • Leonor Rodriguez
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Estevan T Flores
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Jesse Martinez
    • $20 
    • 1 mo
  • Nicki Gonzales
    • $20 
    • 1 mo


Renee Fajardo
Arvada, CO

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