College of Menominee Nation
Brennan (Menominee) is a first-generation college student studying biological and physical sciences major at the College of Menominee Nation.
“Being raised by a single mother in a poverty-stricken community, like on many of our nation’s Indian reservations, can make it difficult to pursue higher education or any type of dream,” Brennan said. “Fortunately, as a child, my mother was very strict when it came to my schoolwork. She would make me sit at the kitchen table to finish my homework before I could go play outside. I carried that discipline throughout high school and was able to stand out of the crowd to be named Menominee Indian High School Class of 2009 Valedictorian.”
Brennan learned the importance of discipline at an early age when he was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at the age of nine. Initially he was sent home with a diagnosis of influenza, but during a later week-long hospital stay he learned that he would be insulin-dependent for the rest of his life.
“With my new best friend, insulin, I had to balance the thoughts and actions of living in poverty,” he said. This included planning meals, limiting stress, and taking care of his health. “My mother and I had lived with friends and family members for the majority of my life. After my sophomore year of high school, I moved in with my best friend Heaven and her grandparents. I lived with them during the last two years of high school because I did not want to keep wondering, ‘When am I going to be moving next?’ These struggles also gave me the drive to push myself and be the best I could in school.”
Brennan is active in the local and national chapter of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) and many other cultural and extracurricular activities. He says he believes he found his calling after he interned with the College of Menominee Nation-Sustainable Development Institute for six weeks with a forest health forester at the Menominee Forestry Department. There he studied invasive plants, insects, and diseases that may impact the world-renowned Menominee forest.