John Brandl Scholars

The John Brandl Scholars program celebrates Saint John's alumnus John E. Brandl and his lifelong commitment to mentorship and scholarship in higher education, public policy, and politics.

The endowment funds summer internships in public policy and leadership development activities such as conferences and trainings. These internships will range from local to international policy arenas, reflecting Dr. Brandl's diverse career and CSB+SJU's commitment to ethical leadership and the common good.

Brandl Scholars receive $7,000 summer stipends to support summer internships anywhere in the world and are offered select invitations for McCarthy Center events and mini-grants to cover travel or other expenses related to civic or scholarly engagement. Students will work full-time for approximately 10 weeks depending on the needs of their internship site. Students may elect to earn credits but will have to pay for these and will be assessed on an individual basis. Graduating seniors are not eligible.

2022 Brandl Scholars

Nayeli Carreno '23: League of United Latin American Citizens

Benjamin Epper

Benjamin Epper '23: Archdiocese of Minneapolis/ St. Paul

Hello, my name is Ben Epper. I am a first-generation student from St. Peter, Minnesota. I am a Senior here at CSB+SJU majoring in theology and psychology. On campus, I work as the Classroom and A/V Support Student Supervisor for St. John’s. I am also a part of the leadership team for Magis Ministries. 

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work as a TOTUS TUUS Missionary for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/ St. Paul. Throughout the summer, my team and I traveled around the Archdiocese to different parishes, hosting Catechetical programming for students going into their First Grade of Elementary School through students in their Senior year of High School. My main responsibility was teaching, I would teach upwards of 30 students per class. This experience has had a profound influence on my life and my plans following my time here at CSB+SJU, so I thank the Brandl Scholars program immensely for making it possible.

Kate Fenske

Kate Fenske '23: AllSquare

I am a current senior majoring in integrative science with a focus in public health, and minoring in political science. On campus, I’m a student coordinator at the McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, a Managing Editor for The Record, a coordinator for OutdoorU’s Peer Resource Program, and previously served for two years on the CSB Senate.

The Brandl Scholar program allowed me to intern at the Minneapolis-based nonprofit AllSquare, and their subsidiary organization, The Legal Revolution. They aim to provide legal aid, legal and paralegal education, employment opportunities, mental health counseling, and other services to currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Throughout the course of the summer, I worked to plan The Legal Revolution’s public launch event, assisted with outreach to other local nonprofits that work with incarcerated people, and performed research on the effects of incarceration on individual and public health. I would not have had this opportunity if it were not for the generosity of John Brandl, and I cannot thank him and the Summer Leadership Fellow Directors enough.

Sean Fisher

Sean Fisher '23: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

My name is Sean Fisher (he/she/they), I am a senior environmental studies major from Pueblo West, Colorado. Environmental justice, queer liberation, sustainable fashion, and delicious food are just a few of my passions. I have had the privilege of experiencing various leadership and personal development opportunities at CSB+SJU that intersect with the aforementioned passions. I have served on the SJU Senate as the Sustainability Representative, worked in the Sustainability Office, and served on the CSB+SJU Sustainability council.  I have been an orientation leader for the past three academic years and have been active in on-campus student activism.  Currently, I am working at the Multicultural Center as a Student Coordinator for QPLUS (Queer Proud Lavender Union for Students) and am the Student Coordinator for the SJU Eco-House community. When I am not doing these things, you can find me outside screaming and running around enjoying the pristine nature of our campus.  

This summer I had the great opportunity of interning with Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a Fisheries Biologist Intern. I am so grateful for the amazing opportunity to work in the beautiful environment of Colorado and help care for the lakes, rivers, and bodies of water within the state. A typical day for me was spent outside electroshock sampling for fish and doing data intake.  I had an amazing opportunity at the end of the summer to do a backpacking trip in the Great Sand Dunes area and do a reclamation research trek. The Summer Leadership Fellow and Brandl Scholarship made my summer an unforgettable experience. After graduation, I am planning on applying for the Benedictine Volunteer Corps and further in life hope to do grassroots intersectional environmental work and continue to live, work, and be authentic! 

Mariko Hermerding

Mariko Hermerding '23: Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina

Hello, my name is Mariko Hermerding and I am from Brainerd, Minnesota. I am a senior, double majoring in environmental studies and peace studies with a concentration in environmental justice and the Latinx experience. On campus, I am involved with Extending the Link, the Institute for Women's Leadership, and Climate Justice Club. 
This summer I worked as an Environmental Justice intern for Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina (COPAL). COPAL is a grassroots organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for Latinos in MN through policy, leadership, and community service. As an intern, I assisted the Environmental Justice Department by attending frontline community coalition meetings, creating bilingual environmental justice-related infographics, and helping with long-term projects.A highlight of my internship was speaking on COPAL's radio station, "Radio Jornalera." Radio Jornalera is the only media outlet focused on defending the rights of migrants and low-income workers. It "builds the power of the people through popular education and the knowledge and exercise of our rights." Once a week I spoke on their program "La Neta del Planeta" about a topic related to environmental justice, local and international news updates related to the environment, and ways to take action. Through this internship, I am motivated to continue studying and researching environmental justice issues through forms of media, like podcasts and film.
Without the support of the John E. Brandl endowed scholarship, Angie Schmidt Whitney, Adia Zeman Theis, Matt Lindstrom, and faculty connections, I would not be able to have this great opportunity. Thank you for making my summer possible!
Thomas Hobday

Thomas Hobday '24: Montana Natural History Center

My name is Tom Hobday, and I am from Saint Paul, Minnesota. On campus, I am a Student Naturalist in the Saint John's Arboretum.  I help give field trips to hundreds of students, and my favorite field trip is the science of maple syruping! In my free time I love to play ultimate frisbee, I am the captain of the SJU team. On campus, I am on a student documentary team focused on social justice, called Extending The Link. I am also a member of the Peer Resource Program, where I have led canoe trips to the Everglades and the Boundary Waters.

This summer I worked at the Montana Natural History Center. With this organization, I helped foster in kids a sense of wonder and appreciation for the environment, by taking them to different natural locations around Missoula and giving them lessons on the world around them. I worked with kids in first through fifth grade, in groups composed of 13 children. This directly supports the museum's mission, which is “to promote and cultivate the appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of nature through education.” Going into this summer, I wanted to develop my skills as an outdoor educator and see if I could envision myself pursuing a career in this field. I have come out of this experience with a better understanding of what it takes to be an outdoor educator and knowledge of potential next steps in this field.  I will draw on the lessons I learned this summer in my job as a Student Naturalist, and look at topics covered in my environmental studies classes through an educational lens.

Alexie Horner '23: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

My name is Alexie Horner, I am a Saint Ben's senior from Warroad, Minnesota. I am majoring in biology with minors in political science and philosophy, on the pre-law track. I currently serve as the Social Justice Coordinator for the Sister Nancy Hynes Institute for Women's Leadership, as well as being involved in Benedictine Friends and the McCarthy Center Mentor Program.

This summer, I interned with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at the Center for Aquatic Mollusk Programs in Lake City, Minnesota. Our work revolved around the preservation and propagation of Minnesota's native freshwater mussel species, many of which are threatened, endangered, or of special concern. Most of my time was spent scuba diving in Minnesota and Wisconsin rivers, working with various state and federal departments to collect and monitor sensitive mussel species in our waterways. In addition to the fieldwork, I aided in the laboratory propagation of endangered and threatened mussels that are raised to reestablish disappearing populations in their natural ranges. After gaining more experience in conservation, I hope to attend law school and work in natural resource and environmental law. My dream is to one day use my experience in both conservation and law to improve environmental policy and preserve the integrity of our forests, prairies, and rivers.

Gunnar Laughlin

Gunnar Laughlin '23: American Public Health Association

My name is Gunnar Laughlin (he/him), a senior political science major from Golden Valley Minnesota. On campus, I am involved with the Saint John’s Senate, Model United Nations, and College Democrats, and I am a student worker for the Political Science department. I also work as a fellow for Aric Putnam’s re-election campaign for the Minnesota State Senate, and I work at Target when I’m home from school. 

This past summer I had an internship with the American Public Health Association (APHA) in Washington, DC where I worked as a Public Affairs intern doing promotional work for educational materials released by APHA and did research on issues in the public health sphere. I also had an internship with MN350 that I was able to complete remotely from Washington. For this internship, I got to do research on climate issues that MN350 could advocate for in the next Minnesota legislative session. I was very grateful to have the John E. Brandl scholarship to help me pursue these opportunities and progress my own career in the policy world. After graduation, I hope to work in policy analysis and government relations in the Twin Cities or in Washington, helping to find solutions to policy problems. 

Sydney Richter '23: District Office of United States Representative Angie Craig

Jervon Sands

Jervon Sands '23: Department of Lands and Surveys; Department of Physical Planning; and the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, Bahamas

My name is Jervon Sands, and I am a senior applied physics major. My ‘home’ home is Nassau, The Bahamas and my on-campus home is currently the Marmion Eco House. I work as an International Student Mentor in the Multicultural Center and as a Help Desk Assistant with IT services.

In my role as a Brandl Scholar this summer, I conducted a sustainability report in collaboration with several governmental and non-profit organizations in the Bahamas. This report primarily focused on urban planning, resource management, and infrastructure development – providing an overview of the history of sustainability in the Bahamas.

During my internship, I was exposed to a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that supports the public sector of the Bahamas. I worked closely with the Department of Lands and Surveys; Department of Physical Planning; and the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection. I am extremely grateful to have been chosen as a Brandl Scholar which helped facilitate this transformative summer engagement.

The next steps for me will most likely include a year of volunteer experience with the Benedictine Volunteer Corps before pursuing graduate studies in Civil and Environmental engineering. I hope to ultimately be involved with sustainable development projects in small island developing states like the Bahamas.