CSB and SJU students participate in College of Saint Benedict Marie and Robert Jackson Fellows program

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September 11, 2013

One summer down, one school year to go. That's the itinerary for the College of Saint Benedict Marie and Robert Jackson Fellows program.

Over the summer, the 10 College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Jackson Fellows worked full time through Aug. 9 in a wide array of community service or public policy jobs chosen by the students themselves based on their own interest, relationship to their major and future goals.

Program co-directors Matt Lindstrom and Marah Jacobson-Schulte review all site proposals. Approved sites must provide opportunities for high level engagement in and with community, contribution to the common good and addressing issues with a social justice approach. They also look for key mentorship opportunities for students when reviewing sites.

The Jackson Fellows learn from what they study at the sites. They also attended bi-monthly seminars, which included a discussion of the fellowships, leadership training, guest lecturers and study tours. Their goal was to improve community life or the common good through political or nonpolitical activities.

But summer was just the beginning for the Jackson Fellows.

They will continue their commitment through the 2013-14 academic year, with the expectation of strengthening their leadership skills and conducting service work on and off campus throughout the year.

Jackson Fellows from CSB:

Victoria Adofoli, a junior political science and peace studies double-major from Maplewood, Minn., worked at the Sexual Offense Service of Ramsey County (Minn.), the rape and sexual assault center for the county. Adofoli supported group facilitation, worked in the office, provided victim support, scheduled volunteers and assisted with day-to-day operations at the center.

Samantha Exsted, a senior education major from Glencoe, Minn., worked at Anna Marie's Alliance, a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing safe shelter, support and referral services for battered women and children in St. Cloud, Minn. She served as a child/youth advocate.

Emily Johnson, a senior psychology major from Duluth, Minn., worked in the neighborhood Youth Services program at Woodland Hills, Duluth. Woodland Hills is a residential and day treatment center for mental health issues among youth with poor coping mechanisms or behavioral problems. Johnson was involved in group therapy sessions, assisting staff and monitoring summer programs.  

Kathy Larrea, a senior psychology major from Eagan, Minn., worked at the Children's Museum of South Dakota in Brookings. A private, nonprofit organization, the museum promotes the education of individuals of all ages through interactive displays and demonstrations. She assisted educators as needed, assisted with developing youth programs and acted as a play guide on the museum floor.

Kaitlyn Lauer, a senior chemistry major from Plymouth, Minn., worked at Children's Dental Service. Based in Minneapolis, CDS seeks to improve the dental health of children from families with low incomes in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud area. She assisted in day-to-day tasks necessary for running a public health clinic, observed dental procedures and conducted research.

Sara Tiemens, a senior education major from Becker, Minn., worked at the United Living Community's Child Development Center. The center, based in Brookings, S.D., is a child care facility open to children ages four weeks to six years offering a setting for care and learning through an intergenerational environment. Tiemens created lesson plans, supervised children in classrooms and field trips, designed parent surveys, assisted in the grant writing process and planned fundraising events, among other tasks. 

Kim Vipond, a junior communication and political science double-major from Mahnomen, Minn., worked at the Children's Law Center in St. Paul, Minn. Its mission is to provide legal services to children who request help. Vipond helped attorneys who provided legal representation to foster children, served as an office volunteer, gathered information and performed office duties.

Jackson Fellows from SJU:

Jared Berg, senior psychology major from Lincoln, N.D., worked at OutFront Minnesota. Based in Minneapolis, OutFront Minnesota engages in lobbying and education about LGBT community concerns. Among the activities Berg was involved with was addressing a safe schools initiative, where there is zero tolerance for teasing and/or bullying for any reason, including gender identity.

Thomas Brossart, a senior Hispanic studies major from Arden Hills, Minn., worked at Open Arms Minnesota. The Minneapolis-based organization cooks and delivers free meals tailored to meet the nutritional needs of individuals living with different diseases. He worked as a community outreach coordinator to the local Hispanic population, using his Spanish-English language skills.

Connor Klausing, a senior political science major from Roseville, Minn., worked at the Witness for Peace Upper Midwest office in Minneapolis. It is an international political organization that works in solidarity with people of Latin America and the Caribbean most affected by harmful U.S. policies and corporate practices. He assisted in local grassroots organizing work, designed and updated the organization's website and newsletter, and participated in fundraising and grant writing.

Each fellow is granted $4,000 for the summer civic engagement project (plus a $1,000 stipend for living expenses). During the school year, they receive an additional $1,000 financial stipend in recognition of their yearlong involvement.

The program was established in 2008 when CSB received an anonymous gift. All majors are welcome to apply for the competitive program.