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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Family raises funds for Bush School in son’s honor

Michael+Branisa+ended+his+3%2C784+mile+cross-country+bicycle+ride+in+Portland%2C+Maine.
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Michael Branisa ended his 3,784 mile cross-country bicycle ride in Portland, Maine.

In memory of his late son Ryan, Michael Branisa traveled across the country by bike to raise funds for the Michael Ryan Branisa Endowed Fellowship, a fund overseen by the Bush School of Government.
Following the passing of their eldest son Ryan in 2010, the Branisa family sought to support a cause he was passionate about. Inspired by Ryan’s admiration of President George H. W. Bush, they decided to start a fellowship fund in Ryan’s name at the Bush School to support those students.
Susan Branisa said President Bush’s legacy of leadership convinced her that the Bush School was a fitting cause for her son’s memorial fellowship.
“He exemplified civil service, in the name of public service and leadership without partisan politics,” Susan Branisa said.
Michael Branisa said he remembers reaching out to the Dean of the Bush School at the time, Ryan Crocker, who helped him decide that it was indeed the institution through which he wanted Ryan’s fellowship to be established.
“We thought that this would be the very best place that we could establish a fellowship in honor of Ryan for the hope of future graduates that will become young leaders of this country and in the world,” Branisa said.
On Aug. 14, Michael Branisa completed a 3,784 mile cross-country bicycle ride to raise funds for the fellowship in his son’s name. His trip started in Portland, Oregon and ended in Portland, Maine. He cycled through 153,000 total feet of elevation change and made over 1.5 million tire revolutions.
“Essentially it’s the peaks, the valleys: It’s the people,” Branisa said. “The preparation is instrumental in being able to deal with whether it’s a peak or whether it’s a valley, and that’s just like life itself.”
Michael Bottiglieri, director of development at the Bush School, said that he is grateful for the opportunities the Branisa Fellowship provides to students of public service and government.
“The Michael Ryan Branisa Endowed Fellowship has created an opportunity for someone who would not have been able to come here without their help now be in a position where they can give back through a career in public service,” Bottiglieri.
Bottiglieri wrote that he thinks Branisa’s trip was about more than raising funds for the Bush School.
“It is important to note that Mickey’s journey was not strictly about fundraising and was a personal journey of reflection, remembrance and inspiration,” Bottiglieri wrote. “The Branisas are an amazing family with a passion for selfless service and helping others.”
Bottiglieri said the Branisa family represents the goals of the Bush School, the values of President Bush and the university as a whole.
“Everything we do here is about public service and putting the needs of others above oneself,” Bottiglieri wrote. “If you look at Mickey’s and Susan’s dedication to helping others in the face of adversity, it is an inspiration for others who believe in the values of President Bush and Texas A&M.”
Michael Branisa documented his entire bike ride on his Facebook page to promote awareness for Ryan’s fellowship. On Aug. 14, after completing his journey, he wrote directly to those who had supported his cause: “I’ve seen firsthand that this country has a lot to offer, not just in landscapes and terrain, but in the people who make up this great nation. This ride was not about me or what I could do, but rather, it was about us and the difference that we can make when we work together.”
Branisa also wrote about the role of the Bush School in educating future leaders: “Together we can help create the leaders of tomorrow at the Bush School of Government and Public Service.”
The Bush School continues to offer opportunities for research and education in the field of public service, inspiring members of the community, including Michael and Susan Branisa, to raise funds for students to continue their education in government and service.

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