Katie Nerissa Brandi

Portrait of Katie Brandi

2021 Award: Outstanding Senior Student Award in Sociology
Major: Sociology
Minor: Solidarity and Social Justice
Hometown: Foster City, California
Extracurricular activities: I work for the sociology and criminology department. I participated as a volunteer on the Walking School Bus and as a volunteer for Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation. I worked for the Rudolf Fitness Center as an intramural referee.


More about Katie

Future plans:

I am pursuing a master’s degree in Sociology at The New School. I hope to focus my studies on Urban Sociology and Environmental Sociology as I have found a passion for understanding and building sustainable communities. I imagine collaborating or developing research on urban gardens, sustainable parks, or healthy food initiatives.

How has your major contributed to your professional or personal development?

In my course work, I have continued to seek outlets that would help me think about dimensions of inequality and urban communities. Environmental justice courses, for example, have pushed my interests in new directions. I grasped how urban environments are part of and shaped by natural ecological systems. Exploitation of those ecological systems for urban development and profit inevitably generates and reproduces inequality along racial and socioeconomic lines. I became inspired by environmentally conscious forms of urban investments that simultaneously foster rich forms of community. My course work on environmental justice has helped me understand my experience on the walking school bus as an ecologically friendly form of urban infrastructure. It promotes the walkability of neighborhoods and builds community without reliance on automobile emissions. These influences have ignited my passion for studying, understanding, and promoting ecologically sustainable forms of community.

What has been your proudest or most significant accomplishment during your Gonzaga career?

When thinking about conducting an original research project, I wanted to understand how recreational settings foster social infrastructure. Working as an intramural referee at Gonzaga University led me to believe that the relationship between authority and gender might shape the potential for people to feel authentically connected to one another. I conducted interviews with women students who worked as referees. They described their sense of fear and discomfort when refereeing men’s contests and displayed an intimate awareness of gender differences. Furthermore, I observed in-game interactions and noticed the subtle ways that fouls called by women referees were regularly disrespected by men’s teams. Women players, however, tended to accept calls, and even when frustrated by a call, never directed criticisms directly towards the referee.