(K)aring for (K)assie

Kassie Braun ‘15 tragically passed away while studying abroad; now her family is working alongside many to continue to honor her.


Mrs. Chalene Braun alongside KBMS students at their school in Abakaliki. (Photo from Chalene Braun)

KassieKares, a charity created by her own mother, Mrs. Chalene Braun, has worked in numerous ways to promote safe international travel and it all begins here on the Hill. 

Kassie is highly recognized for her philanthropic and community involvement and was always committed to making the world more positive. While at Cathedral, Kassie was heavily involved in working to serve her community and help develop student leaders across the globe. The mission of KassieKares charity is to “promote philanthropic student involvement through international travel and activities that allow young leaders to engage in meaningful experiences that positively impact children locally and in the developing world (KassieKares website).” 

Braun said, “It just is amazing to me and so life changing to see how Kassie made such an impact on so many people that even five years later, people like Principal Julie Barthel and KassieKares Club Moderator Sheila Roberts were all so impacted by her. It makes me solidly aware in my beliefs that life really is everlasting.”

Kassie Braun Memorial Schools students after opening their Cathedral care package.
(Photo from Cathedral Facebook)

Kassie’s own godfather and life-long family friend, Rev. JohnBosco Ikemeh grew up in a small village located in Nigeria, Africa. Growing up, JohnBosco worked tirelessly to provide for his own family and create a change in his community. His passion to give back to his community and the community of Abakaliki, Nigeria all relates to his childhood, and the founding of his own nonprofit organization African Education Outreach (AEO). AEO works to provide children in Nigeria with an education that they otherwise would not have. 

Rev. John Bosco struggled with deciding on a name for his school, and looked to the Braun family for assistance. He proposed the name “Kassie Braun Memorial Schools (KBMS)” which was immediately approved, while all previously proposed names had been declined. Chalene described this acceptance as a “God moment”. 

She said, “When he had this divine moment that he wanted to start a school, it was in that village of Abakaliki where he decided because it was where he had his moment with God. Initially, he tried to name the school Grace, and he kept trying to submit these names to the ministry of education, and they kept coming back saying no. In the meantime, he was getting very frustrated and he said can we call the school Kassie Braun Memorial Schools, and I said ‘of course’. I was honored, and I am sure she would be honored.”

Cathedral High School is a sister school to KBMS and the Braun family has spent multiple years trying to fulfill the dream of sending CHS students to Nigeria to visit their school. This dream will become a reality during J-Term 2024, where interested students and members of the KassieKares club will interact and form meaningful relationships with KBMS students.

During this culture exchange, students will have the opportunity to work alongside their students and experience their school and the country of Nigeria. The proposal of this international trip all began in 2019, when Mrs. Braun met with Cathedral administration to discuss this possibility. In October of  2022, trip details began to be discussed. 

She said, “I pitched this idea that our little school could be innovative, it could bring Cathedral fully into a true next, century status, which is not just focusing on yourself and the people in your immediate area, but focusing on people across the world. And they (school administration) bought it! They said ‘tell us more’! ”

KBMS students enjoying their care package gifts.
(Photo from Cathedral Facebook)

During the 2023 J-Term, students involved were able to Zoom with KBMS students, send them an American care package, visit Indiana University and attend an African culture class, and begin to form these meaningful relationships between students. This J-Term was led by moderator of KassieKares club Mrs. Sheila Roberts. Since J-Term, the club has been hosting monthly meetings to continue to meet with KBMS students. 

Roberts wrote, “Starting the 2023 J-Term with KBMS was an awesome way to begin our relationship with the faculty and students. We have been meeting virtually since January and continue to do so monthly leading up to the 2024 J-Term trip to Abakaliki, Nigeria. My long term goal is to incorporate a student exchange program with KBMS and potentially host students for a semester at Cathedral.”

During the J-Term, students exchanged information regarding school tours, school uniforms, lifestyle activities, sports information, and cultural information. Students interested in joining KassieKares club are encouraged to reach out to Mrs. Roberts by email, at [email protected]. Mr. Howard Fogel, KassieKares club co-moderator, has consistently worked along Roberts and administration to make these goals a possibility. 

Fogel said, “I know from previous relationships, they look forward to going back and seeing the people you know and seeing how they have grown and changed. It is really developing that closeness, it’s a family relationship.”

Roberts has previously planned and attended Cathedral abroad trips, specifically African mission trips. She wrote, “I am not entirely sure I would describe the trip to Nigeria as a mission trip but more so  a cultural experience and a partnership with KBMS. We will stay stationed nearby KBMS and spend the majority of our time at the school rather than traveling around the country. We also intend to actually lodge at KBMS for at least one night during the trip which is wildly different from previous trips Cathedral students have taken to Africa.” 

It just is amazing to me and so life changing to see how Kassie made such an impact on so many people

— Chalene Braun

Students at KBMS both attend school and reside on their campus. Their campus hosts dorms, classrooms, labs, cafeterias and more. Their anticipated goal is to travel with teachers and twelve students, and hopefully include any interested parents. The Brauns will be traveling with all members also. 

Braun, Roberts and Fogel are consistently working to spread the word and give Cathedral students new opportunities. For students interested in the work of KassieKares and the Nigeria trip, they are encouraged to reach out to Mrs. Roberts or Mr. Fogel. Braun said, “It blew me away that we actually had set up this idea and a goal five years before and here we are fully realizing that goal. It is unbelievable to me still, it still brings tears to my eyes.”

To stay connected with KassieKares mission and current events, Braun encourages all to follow KassieKares on Instagram and Facebook, follow Kassie Braun Memorial Schools on Instagram and Facebook, and stay up to date with KassieKares through their website: https://www.kassiekares.org/. 

KassieKares Instagram/Facebook: kassiekares

Kassie Braun Memorial Schools Instagram: kassiebraunschools

Dedicated to the memory of Kassie Braun. Photo from the KassieKares website.