Largest cohort of Jackson Fellows working in wide array of community engagement positions

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June 27, 2017

By Sean Kelly '18

CohortThe largest group in the nine-year history of the College of Saint Benedict Marie and Robert Jackson Fellows Program have set off to make the world a better place. 

This summer, the 15 Fellows from CSB and Saint John’s University will work full time in a wide array of community engagement positions chosen by the students based on their own interest, relationship to their major and future goals. 

Program co-directors Matt Lindstrom, professor of political science at CSB and SJU, and Angie Schmidt Whitney, director of Experiential Learning and Community Engagement at CSB and SJU, 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 the students when reviewing sites. 

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

But the summer is just the start for the Jackson Fellows. 

They will continue their commitment through the 2017-18 academic year, with the expectation of strengthening their leadership skills and engagement to the community on and off campus throughout the year. 

2017-18 Jackson Fellows: 

Khadara Ahmed, a rising junior communication major from Woodbury, Minnesota, is an advocacy intern at MORE. This St. Paul, Minnesota-based organization provides refugees and immigrants with education and support particularly surrounding the issues of poverty, literacy and immigration. To do this, MORE assists with helping low-income residents meet their basic needs and to provide immigrants and refugees with the skills to be more independent in the United States. 

Emily Christian, a rising senior natural science major from Richfield, Minnesota, is a horticulture intern at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary in Minneapolis. Christian will contribute to the sanctuary’s mission of collecting, protecting, preserving and cataloguing wild plants. 

Arantxa Hernandez-Chaire, a rising junior nutrition major from Kasson, Minnesota, is working at Diversity Council, which works to combat racism and discrimination in schools around Rochester, Minnesota. The Diversity Council's mission has also expanded to address an inclusive understanding of diversity, including ethnicity, age, socioeconomic class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disabilities. 

Quinton Johnson, a rising junior political science and history major from Marshall, Minnesota, is a preservation and outreach intern at Stearns History Museum in St. Cloud, Minnesota. This accredited museum strives to display exhibits, programs and activities that educate, entertain and inspire participants. The Stearns History Museum preserves the history of Stearns County and Central Minnesota. 

Allison Kanyetzny, a rising senior peace studies major from Anoka, Minnesota, is a museum educator intern/developmental programing and event intern at Children’s Museum of South Dakota. A private, nonprofit organization, the museum promotes the education of individuals of all ages through interactive displays and demonstrations. 

Brendan Klein, a rising junior political science and economics major from Bloomington, Minnesota, is an economic policy intern at Growth and Justice. Growth and Justice is a research and advocacy organization that develops innovative public policy proposals based on independent research and civic engagement. He helps to writing economic public policy and conduct research on economic issues as well as assist in fundraising for the organization. 

Mackenzie Kuhl, a rising junior political science major from Dubuque, Iowa, is a community integration and outreach intern at Health East Care System. This St. Paul-based organization prides itself in providing accessible health information, dependable service, and affordable, high-quality care. Some of Kuhl’s responsibilities include researching culturally inclusive material for community health dialogues and building relationships with community organizations. 

Sandra Marceleno, a rising junior communication major from Chicago, is a community outreach intern at Little Village Community Council in Chicago. The Council is predominantly a Latinx immigrant community that aims to help residents in different areas of their life, namely, civic, social, educational, economical and citizenship. Marceleno will help with projects such as recruiting youth to be more politically active, and reaching out to the community for them to participate in programs such as free legal counseling, voters registration and college fairs. 

Felicia Mix, a rising senior sociology major from St. Michael, Minnesota, is working as an outreach intern at Open Cities Health, a nonprofit community health center that seeks to provide culturally competent and preventive health care and related services to the Twin Cities metropolitan area. 

Ashley Payne, a rising junior political science major from Valley Village, California, is working at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles as an outreach intern. CAST is a nonprofit organization that is working to put an end to modern slavery and human trafficking through comprehensive, lifesaving servicers to survivors and a platform to advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. 

Skylar Peyton, a rising senior environmental studies major from West Point, Nebraska, is an Environmental Education & Animal Rehabilitation Intern at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota, the first environmental learning center in the nation to be accredited as a K-12 school. The center draws 15,000 children, teachers and parental chaperones to their campus each year, in which a variety of learning programs for children, families, seniors and college students are held. 

Danica Simonet, a rising junior psychology and peace studies double major from Nerstrand, Minnesota, is working as a Cultural Orientation and Case Aid Intern at the New American Services Program, a program that offers services for newly arrived refugees coming through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with reunification assistance. 

Jarol Torres, a rising junior political science major from San Pedro, California, is a community advocacy intern at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis. The Legal Rights Center’s mission is to provide the highest quality criminal defense and restorative justice services to low-income people, in particular people of color, and to do so at no cost to their Hennepin County clientele. 

Mariana Urbina, a rising senior global business leadership major from St. Paul, Minnesota, is interning at the Immigration Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) as an immigration intern. The ILCM is a nonprofit agency that provides legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. ILCM also works to educate Minnesota communities and professionals about immigration matters, and advocates for state and federal policies, which respect the universal human rights of immigrants. 

Briana Ziemer, a rising junior communication and psychology major from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, is at the Boys and Girls Club of Brookings, South Dakota, where she is the director of program operations/special events intern. The Boys and Girls Club of Brookings is an umbrella organization with five different Boys and Girls Clubs serving youth in Brookings, Moody County and Yankton, and provides youth programs in a safe place. 

Each Fellow is granted $5,000 for summer civic engagement internships (plus a living stipend) and will be eligible for additional professional development funds. During the school year, they receive an additional $1,000 financial scholarship in recognition of their year-long involvement. 

The program was established in 2008 when CSB received a gift from Patricia Jackson Larson ’62 and her husband, Dale Larson, to establish the Marie and Robert Jackson Fellows Program. All majors are welcome to apply for the competitive program. 

All fellowships involve civic engagement and work devoted to improving community life. The diversity of the site placements and the type of work and leadership required from each Jackson Fellow serves to create a rich, vibrant, and holistic learning environment.