Communication major who embodied ‘Take on Your World’ dies unexpectedly

Gabrielle Wilkosz

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An article released today by the Austin-American Statesman gave details on the cause of junior Kassie Braun’s death.

Braun “died in an ambulance headed to Mandalay General Hospital around 1 p.m., according to the study-abroad organization Semester at Sea” said the Statesman.


A student died in a tragic accident according to an announcement sent to the St. Edward’s community via email this afternoon.

Junior Kassandra Arielle Braun, who was involved in many organizations including Hilltop Leaders and the Hilltop Hospitality Team, was studying abroad with Semester at Sea in Myanmar.

Braun’s family has released a statement on the website of Semester at Sea, where they said that they were awaiting additional details.

“Kassie’s family greatly appreciates the outpouring of love and support they have received and requests privacy as they mourn their loss and make arrangements for Kassie’s repatriation,” the online statement said.

Braun was majoring in communication, a skill set that the Indiana-native honed during travel experiences around the world. Her voyages included Italy and South Africa, the latter of the two she visited once with the university’s faculty-led Common Theme program and a second time recently with her mother.

Junior Dakota Nichols first became friends with Braun on their trip to South Africa in summer 2016. Like many of Braun’s friends and family, Nichols had been keeping up with Braun’s adventures through direct messaging and social media.

In Nichols’ recent conversation with Braun, they discussed her travels to India, a state Nichols told her he dreamed of visiting. This afternoon, Nichols said, “all of a sudden, she was gone.”

“There are a lot of people who are having a hard time hearing that Kassie passed,” Nichols said. “She touched a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. It’s definitely a community experience losing her.”

Nichols said he remembered the Moreau scholar as “fearless,” adding that one of his best memories of his friend was when she convinced him to go cage diving with sharks on one of the group’s free days in South Africa. Braun was one of the first students to get in the water, encouraging Nichols and others to join her in the fun.

“it’s important for people to know that Kassie is one of those people who would have wanted us to put on a smile and celebrate her life instead of mourn in a negative way,” Nichols said. “It’s important for all of her friends to know that they’re not alone.”

Tomorrow at Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, Braun will be remembered in prayer at 5:15 p.m. Student Life invites members of the St. Edward’s community to gather in remembrance of Braun and her contributions to the university. She is survived by a brother who also attends St. Edward’s University.

Campus Ministry and the Health and Counseling Center offered up their resources to anyone needing support through this time. Campus Ministry can be reached at 512-448-8499, while Health and Counseling services are available at 512-448-8538.

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