Tommies on TV - Alumni who appeared on TV shows

Tommies on TV: Alumni Use Degrees to Make Waves

Whether it’s ABC’s “The Bachelorette” or Netflix’s “Quarterback,” taking a leap of faith when TV producers call can quickly spin your life in a new direction. Some alumni who said yes to appearing on reality TV or a docuseries, credit their University of St. Thomas education for laying the foundation for their career trajectory.

John Buresh '21 MS
John Buresh '21 MS

“You never know what opportunities lay ahead,” said St. Thomas alumnus John Buresh, who received a Master of Science in Business Analytics from the Opus College of Business at St. Thomas – the first in his family to receive a secondary degree. His mantra that has fueled his career and other life experiences: “Just say yes to opportunities. It’s very easy to get comfortable.”

Buresh appeared as a suitor on season 20 of “The Bachelorette.” He said his 2021 master’s degree placed him in a high-paying job, which led to him landing the appearance on the popular ABC Bachelor Nation series. The casting directors “choose people who have had success in their careers,” he said.

Buresh is not alone. He is one of several St. Thomas alumni who achieved 15 minutes of fame during a TV series. We separately profile Buresh and three others in our Tommies on TV feature stories for the spring 2024 St. Thomas Magazine.

Navigate the buttons below to read a fuller story, and in some cases see a video story, about these Tommies who appeared on a multipart TV series.

Brownell Mack '01 PsyD

Brownell Mack ’01 PsyD was already a successful psychologist when he appeared alongside Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in the Netflix series “Quarterback.”

Brownell Mack '01 PsyD
Brownell Mack '01 PsyD

Mack joined the Vikings as team clinician in 2019 after collective bargaining mandated NFL teams retain a mental health provider.

He also held roles as a clinical director at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, an assistant commissioner of direct care and treatment administration for the state of Minnesota, in addition to work with Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

“St. Thomas was critical to what I’m doing now professionally and was vital to my growth as a person,” Mack said. “The faculty were much more than instructors to me. They were people who became mentors and lifelong colleagues.”

The ‘Quarterback’ series, he said, gave him a path to pay it forward, especially to a younger generation who reached out to him after the airing of the Netflix series.

Read the rest of Brownell Mack’s story.

Dan Buettner '83

Dan Buettner
Dan Buettner

Author Dan Buettner just wants to make the world – the Earth – a healthier place. Living to 100 should be attainable for everyone based on a few factors.

Buettner has been a regular on-air guest on the topic of longevity. He has appeared on “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show.  But it was a call from Netflix about doing a multipart docuseries based on his books – with Buettner leading the way – that brought his approximately 20 years of research into the homes of millions.

In the “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones” series, viewers travel with Buettner around the world to uncover the secrets of what makes people in certain communities live extraordinarily long lives. His study of human behavior is rooted in his St. Thomas education.

“St. Thomas is a great institution for liberal arts,” he said. “When I attended, there was an enormous emphasis on philosophy, theology and English – all these things that I wasn’t all that interested in at the time – but later in life proved to be super valuable.”

Read the rest of Dan Buettner’s story.

Julian Woodhouse '12

Julian Woodhouse '12
Julian Woodhouse '12

Born in Germany to military parents, Julian Woodhouse would go on to travel the globe as a military officer himself.

Landing in Korea for a tour of duty after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in international business from St. Thomas, he rekindled connections he made in the East Asian country when he was a child. As a family, they used to obtain tailor-made clothing.

Soon, Woodhouse was collaborating with skilled garment makers to launch his own fashions. His company became the first Black-owned brand to appear at Seoul Fashion Week. The onslaught of attention – and his fabulous designs – caught the eye of the creators of the Netflix “Next in Fashion” series. Woodhouse learned to sew almost overnight so that he could compete on the reality series.

But life is more about connections than competitions, Woodhouse said. Connecting with St. Thomas alumni through the Tommie Network is a great way to grow a company.

“There is mutual support you can get from different people,” he said. He has reached out to several, including for help with a patent for one of his fashion brands. “There is a lot of value in the Tommie Network, whether connecting in person or on social media.”

John Buresh '21 MS

John Buresh meets Charity Lawson
John Buresh makes an impression on Bachelorette.
ABC/Craig Sjodin

As for Buresh, although he didn’t receive the final rose from Charity Lawson, he said he made 15 new close friends on “The Bachelorette.”

“When you put away the distractions of life, you can have these much more intentional conversations and grow deeper relationships through that,” he said.

His experience on the television series created connections that led him to put his business degree to new uses. A senior manager in data analytics at a UnitedHealth Group company by day, he became an entrepreneur on the side, creating the Curious Clothing Company.

Read the rest of John Buresh’s story.