Meet the TRIO Staff

Director Student Support Services/TRIO
(701) 355-8194
[email protected] 
Welder Library 131

Brenda Nottestad joined the University of Mary community in September 2013, as an Academic Advisor, Freshman and Transition Seminar Instructor, and served for a time as Program Director for the Title III Grant. She accepted the position of TRIO Director in November 2016. She has several years’ experience in higher education having previously worked at Bismarck State College as Student Accessibility Coordinator and a Veteran Certifying Official. As well, during her tenure there, she was active as a local and state workshop presenter. Her undergraduate degree was obtained through Dickinson State University and she earned her Masters of Educational Leadership degree through North Dakota State University. She considers herself a lifelong learner and believes we should always look for opportunities to enrich our minds and develop our gifts. Brenda enjoys working with an SSS team that is so gifted and excited to create a community for students where they can grow personally and academically.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to growth.” ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Student Support Services/TRIO Advisor
(701) 355-8293
[email protected] 
Welder Library 130

Kristi Wanner is a graduate of University of Mary where she earned her Bachelor’s degrees in English Education. She then went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry from the University of Saint John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota. Kristi has a long history at the University of Mary as she was the Campus Ministry Director for seven years before moving to the position of TRIO Advisor for Student Support Services. During her time as campus minister she was also able to do missionary work for the Diocese of Bismarck in Kenya, East Africa. During these missionary experiences she worked with orphans to ensure they had food, shelter, and the basics for an education. She enjoyed this work very much and loves to learn more about people and other cultures. She was very excited to begin her work with TRIO and is passionate about supporting students as they work to achieve their academic and professional goals.

 “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” ~ Mother Teresa

Student Support Services/TRIO Academic Advisor
(701) 355-8017
[email protected] 
Welder Library 128

Ra’Shi Common moved to the Bismarck area in September 2016 and shortly after joined the University of Mary family. After first working as a Transcript Evaluator in the Registrar’s office, Ra ‘Shi transitioned to a new role -Student Support Services/TRIO Advisor. Ra ‘Shi earned her Master of Art in Counseling with an emphasis in Higher Education at Lakeland University, and spent the past few years working with TRIO and other Student Service programs. She has experience providing support to diverse student groups: Pre-College, Traditional, Non-Traditional, Non-Traditional Adult, and First Generation, each having a variety of needs. Ra ‘Shi believes higher education not only helps transform students, but it is also vital in helping them change the lives of their families and the communities where they live. TRIO support services such as academic/personal advising; financial aid/scholarship information; mentoring/coaching; tutoring; advocating; and referrals to additional services/resources provides many students with access to higher education and helps them to succeed when they get there. Ra ‘Shi enjoys serving in a role that has a positive impact in this world.

"Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Student Support Services/TRIO Academic Advisor
701-355-8152
[email protected]
Welder Library 129

Steve Berard was born and raised in rural, western Massachusetts where he became a dreaded New England Patriots fan. As a first generation college student from a blue collar family, Steve earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He later attended graduate school at Indiana University where he earned a master’s degree in Education. Steve is passionate about service to others and cross-cultural exchange, and he has combined the two by serving on two mission projects in Haiti, volunteering on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, and teaching English with the Peace Corps in a remote village in Yemen. He has also taught at a language institute in Kuwait, at a university in Japan and, most recently, with the Student Support Services program at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Steve joined the TRIO/SSS family at UMary during the summer of 2019, and he is excited to once again play a role in helping TRIO students succeed. Steve encourages students to visit with him in his office in Welder 129. He might even have treats.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
– Mahatma Gandhi