Finding Home for Herself and the WorldAfter four years of service at Gustavus, recent graduate Kendyl Landeck seeks to make "home" a possibility for everyone.
Posted on June 7th, 2017 by

Kendyl Landeck '17

“I feel like I’m at home.”

2017 Gustavus Adolphus College graduate Kendyl Landeck’s father heard these words over the phone during his then-high-school daughter’s 1,500 mile trip from their hometown in Moscow, Idaho to southern Minnesota.

“I walked on campus and felt instantly welcomed by every person we met on the tour,” Landeck reflected. She had travelled to Minnesota to attend a soccer camp in a different city, but after meeting Gustavus women’s soccer coach Laura Burnett-Kurie during one of the camp’s practices, she and her mother made a last minute schedule adjustment to add Saint Peter to their long route back home. “I also remember the extreme wind during that tour, but it made me realize I was going to be more than okay here if I had fallen in love with Gustavus even after knowing its flaws,” she laughed.

Four years later, Landeck has made her own mark on the Hill, splitting her time between the classroom, the field, and numerous organizations. A testament to her academic success, she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society last spring before graduating Magna Cum Laude. Outside the classroom, Landeck was a four-year member of the Gustavus women’s soccer team, the St. Lucia Choir, and the Gustavus Habitat for Humanity Chapter, a group dedicated to affordable housing. She also served on the Gustavus Habitat Board for two years, leading the organization as a co-president and as a coordinator during the annual spring break service trips. Traveling to work sites across the country, Landeck joined a group of Gusties each year to build houses, help in ReStores, and develop relationships with future homeowners.

“In the soccer program, we preach about being the best individual you can be in all areas of your life and Kendyl embraced this with open arms. This is what drove her every day and it showed in her success,” Burnett-Kurie said.

A history major and sociology and anthropology minor, Landeck’s capstone paper focused on the intersections of race and class in the history of segregated housing in Hennepin County. After spending the summer visiting historical archives in St. Paul, her semester-long investigation into housing imperfections culminated in both a completed thesis and a transformed perspective.

“The opportunity to write my own research was an amazing experience because history professor David Obermiller provided the perfect balance of support and independence. He pushed me to see the greater implications as well. By looking at the other side of history and by showing the voices of the underserved, it was clear that affordable housing is a massive part of society that needs to be addressed,” Landeck said.

Hoping to eventually study law – specifically housing law – Landeck accepted an internship with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services during January 2017. But she quickly realized that her true path led elsewhere. After searching for jobs with the potential to revitalize low-income housing and discovering she would need further education, Landeck immediately applied to the Regional and Community Planning graduate program at Iowa State. A month later, she was one of a handful of students across the nation to be admitted to the prestigious program.

“I took a leap of faith, and I am very excited to be able to continue my education. I fell in love with Habitat’s mission long ago, but this program allows me to have an intentional impact on a broad scale,” said Landeck. “Afterwards, I hope to be able to work with a non-profit or with a city’s housing department in order to develop affordable and fair housing in small towns and cities.”

“Kendyl leaves a massive legacy with our program and at Gustavus,” Burnett-Kurie said. “She cares deeply about others’ success and strives every day to have an impact on the lives of those around her. I believe Kendyl will be able to utilize these strengths and passions in her future career, and I am very excited to see her change lives for the better.”

Landeck (18) was a two-time academic all-conference selection on the Gustavus women’s soccer team.

Sitting in the Courtyard Café as her final year came to a close, two younger students spotted Landeck and their faces instantly lit up. Laughing, the trio reflected on their recent spring break trip together to Georgetown, Delaware, Landeck’s final undergrad service trip with Habitat for Humanity. The two students waved goodbye, wished her luck, and jokingly called her “Mom” one last time.

Landeck found a new home when she moved across the country to Saint Peter, and as she prepares for another move,  she leaves feeling dedicated and empowered to make “home” a possibility for others as well.

“I didn’t have any clear trajectory when I started here, but I knew I wanted to help others,” Landeck said. “The idea of affordability and a home has become the main focus of everything I want to do, and now, looking back, I can see that passion developing with each step along the way. Every class I took and every conversation with my professors, coaches, and mentors contributes to what I am pursuing, and that is the awesome part of being here and being at a liberal arts college. ”

After graduation on May 28, Landeck moved to Ames, Iowa in order to begin her classes in August. Until then, she will spend the summer volunteering with the Greater Des Moines Habitat Chapter and preparing her new home with her fiancé, Evan Larson ’16.

“I look back at all my essays,” Landeck said. “As I read them I can say that I still truly believe every word I wrote, whether it was about my views on affordability and policy or about my hopes for my impact on others. Now, I get to go make them a reality.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad



  1. Harry Miller says:

    My oh my Kendyl……Barbara and I are most certainly very proud of you. Further ……,,,Harry

  2. Greg Kaster says:

    Bravo, Kendyl! We are so proud of you.

  3. Cameron Johnston says:

    Hi, Kendyl;
    This article is a wonderful tribute to you for all of the hard work,energy, brilliance and passion that you put into everything that you do.
    Jeanette and I are so pleased that you chose to go to Gustavus. We know that your life will continue to shine on your corner of the world.
    Hugs from Jeanette and Cam