As part of RNDC’s Rural Engagement Initiative
Written by Camila Bejarano, RNDC Intern
Headshot (2)Brianna Sanders, a current intern at Region Nine Development Commission, grew up on a farm outside of St. James, Minnesota. In May 2021, she graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and minors in Leadership, Political Science, and Sustainability Studies. Brianna started in the Political Science department her freshman year but later switched to Economics since she liked the mathematical portion of economics. “It is less about an opinion and more about facts,” she stated. Brianna values her learning experience at the U of M, and she describes it as challenging but rewarding.
Brianna moved from St. James to Minneapolis in 2017 to begin her studies at the University of Minnesota, where she participated in different clubs and started a new community, the Rural Student Association. Minneapolis offers a lot of activities and events around the school area. “There is always something new to try in Minneapolis,” Brianna says, and it is one of the reasons why she likes the Twin Cities.
In June 2020, Brianna returned to St. James and started working at Region Nine Development Commission as an economic development intern after her dad, who was on the Region Nine Board a couple of years ago, recommended that she apply for an internship. At Region Nine, Brianna attends committee and stakeholder meetings. She also works on research and data collection on agricultural, transportation, clean energy, and sustainability topics. Her involvement in different projects has taught her how economic development shapes the region. Brianna describes this as an exciting and unique learning experience. She has also been able to apply her course material to the work she does at Region Nine. Outside of Region Nine, Brianna had worked at a local government law firm as a legal administrative assistant in the zoning, planning, and bonds departments.
Having a deep interest in urban and rural development, Brianna utilized her economics capstone project to propose a model that improves the state of rural America. Brianna evaluated the differences between rural and urban areas, specifically around brain drain. She was interested in seeing how rural and urban development both have competitive and comparative advantages independent of each other. Eventually, Brianna hopes to use this project to support rural development.
In the future, Brianna would like to continue working on her capstone project and learn more about the rural and urban divide. She also wants to increase her knowledge in agricultural and environmental topics and thus aspires to obtain a Ph.D. in Applied Economics with a concentration in agriculture.