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Meet our Board Candidates

John M. Burcaw

John is responsible for managing academic programs, recruitment, marketing, and promotion at the Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest. He serves as the liaison between the board and government agencies and maintains accreditation and licensing requirements, student records, and strategic partnerships. This includes all federal or state divisions of apprenticeship, the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, and other agencies that oversee academic education.


John is an accomplished, results-oriented professional with wide-ranging skills and experiences, including developing and implementing organizational programs and strategic initiatives. John also forms, grows, and maintains business partnerships for the benefit and advancement of the FTIUM, its members, affiliates, and stakeholders.


John has been a member of the IUPAT for 30 years and has over 19 years of union executive-level leadership experience.

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Luka Jacobi-Krohn

My name is Luka Jacobi-Krohn and I'm a current sophomore at Edina Highschool. I want to continue spread information about pseo so as many students as possible can take it since it's a amazing opportunity. I believe any student would benefit from pseo and that's why pseo is such a important program. 

Neal Mukherje

My name is Neal Mukherjee and I am a former full-time PSEO student from the University of Minnesota. In my two years at the University of Minnesota (2017-2019) I served as a board member and later Treasurer of the PSEO Student Association and was an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Pharmacology. After transferring all my credits from UMN I was able to graduate in May 2021 from the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Chemical Biology and Molecular/Cellular Biology while also serving as an undergraduate COVID-19 researcher and participating in student organizations dedicated to improving the diversity of the healthcare field. If given the opportunity to serve as your PPSEO board member I will use my experiences as a full-time PSEO student and undergraduate researcher to create resources to support PSEO students who want to supplement their advanced coursework with practical experience in undergraduate research or technical internships in any field. I'd also like to illuminate all the pathways for PSEO students to transfer their credits to out-of-state public and some private institutions so potential and current PSEO students are able to make more informed post-secondary decisions. Thanks for checking out my bio! 

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Mia Middleton

Mia Middleton (she/her) is the Student Coalition Chair for People for PSEO. She is a senior at Orono High School and a full-time PSEO student at the University of Minnesota, where she is focusing her studies on Ancient Greek. She started volunteering for People for PSEO after realizing how beneficial the program is; this sparked a passion for advocating for fairer PSEO laws and increasing awareness. After graduation, she plans to pursue a degree in Classics on a pre-med track. 

Gretchen North

Hello! My name is Gretchen North and I am a sophomore in CFANS double-majoring in Conservation Biology and Environmental Education with minors in Spanish and Sustainability. In addition to being a full-time student, I ride and compete with the UMN Western Club Equestrian Team, conduct independent species ecology research with the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB) department, and work part-time as a teaching assistant for General Zoology. During my junior and senior years of high school, I was a part-time PSEO student at the University of Minnesota, serving on the PSEO Student Association Board first as a general member and then as elected Treasurer. I am an enthusiastic advocate for increasing the accessibility of the PSEO program for students across the state of Minnesota, regardless of background. I look forward to serving with you all to strengthen the positive impacts the PSEO program already has to offer!

Maverick Manzke

I was born and raised in Minnesota. My senior year of high school I participated in the PSEO program and attended the University of Minnesota. That is also where I earned my bachelor's degree in Finance and MIS.After graduating I started working for Cargill in their finance rotational program, and am in my second year-long rotation focusing on plant accounting. In my free time I enjoy reading, watching Minnesota sports, and spending time outside!

Leah Berend

Leah is the Chief Financial and Chief Administrative Officer of Oxbow Industries, LLC, a Minneapolis-based private equity firm with over $2.5 billion corporate financial transactions completed. She has 12 years of combined accounting and business administration experience and is an active certified public accountant. Leah is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and a member of the Minnesota Society of CPAs. She has a Masters of Science in Accountancy and a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership. Leah attended the University of Minnesota as a PSEO student from 2005-2007. She took as many credits as was allowed and quickly completed her bachelor's degree when she was "supposed to be" ending her sophomore year of college. Getting out into the career world at 19 jump-started her earning potential and she feels privileged to have been in a program that saved her so much in student loans and remains an avid cheerleader of People for PSEO and the work they do to spread awareness and defend the PSEO system. "

Linda Slocum

Linda Slocum is a graduate of Washburn High School and earned her BA in Psychology from Simpson College. After coming back to Minnesota, she earned her teaching licenses from Augsburg College. After spending 25 years as a Minneapolis Public Schools Middle School Teacher, she went on to be a MN State Representative of Richfield and Bloomington for 12 years. She has been a participant in political and neighborhood based advocacy organizations for over 45 years - and has no plans of stopping!

In her free time, Linda spends her time reading, enjoying her adult daughters, walking her dog, and loving up her recently born grandson!

Bailey Onken

I am a graduate of Fulda High School, and an alumnus of the University of Minnesota Rochester. I participated in a Postsecondary Enrollment Options program part-time during my junior and senior years of high school; my time as a PSEO student was the most valuable experience of my high school career, as it helped me to not only gain college credit, but also to learn important skills, such as time management and responsibility. Being a part-time PSEO student allowed me to not only gain college credit, but also to learn important skills, such as time management and responsibility. This arrangement made it possible for me to still be a part of my high school community and take part in high school activities. My PSEO experience offered me a look into what attending college was actually like while I was still a high school student before I was thrown into college after graduation. For example, I had to learn what it was like to communicate with college professors, which is completely different than high school teachers. I also had to adjust to the limited amount of guidance given by college professors and how to navigate class registration. The high school I attended was extremely small and therefore provided a limited choice of classes. PSEO allowed me to enroll in different classes that I would have never had the opportunity to experience at my high school.

Addison Abler

My name is Addison Abler. This is my first year of PSEO and I have enjoyed it thus far. In my free time I play many instruments and I love talking with my grandma. My future plans are to go into nursing and work with either elderly or young kids.

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