A Day in the Life of Dr. Brenner

Media taken by Alejandro Izurieta ’25

Have you ever met someone who wakes up at 2:30AM everyday? Dr. Brenner, the renowned chemist here at Grace, not only wakes up at such an insanely early hour but also packs her schedule with a day full of chemistry, cats and commuting. 

“[She has] Unmatched dedication at any time of the day or the night. It seems like she’s always on her laptop,” student, Chauncey T. 23,’ said. 

Dr. Brenner wakes up every day at 2:30 in the morning, sometimes earlier if her cats are hungry. Although this may seem  bizarre to some, Dr. Brenner has her reasons. 

“The first thing I have to do is feed those hungry cats,” she explained. “Then, I’ll have a shower, put in laundry, and then I’ll have coffee and dry my hair.” 

This sequence is just the start of her chaotic yet productive morning ritual. Some students wonder why their assignments often get graded at four in the morning. She justified her early morning grading by saying, “Sometimes I start grading lab reports while the laundry is running.” 

The rest of the morning is set aside for the commute. Unlike most teachers, Dr. Brenner lives two hours away from school and leaves her house at 4:45 in the morning.

“If everything goes perfectly, I arrive at 6:20,” she said. “I’m used to it now (the commute). Obviously it’s not something that I enjoy, but there’s a good reason I live out there –my husband and I really like being out in nature and having farmland around us.” 

I followed up, asking Dr. Brenner if she felt like the commute was worth it, to which she responded with a firm ‘yes.’

Dr. Brenner has three cats, Kylie, Anya, and Benny, all with special needs. They are all on different diets that require various supplements, making preparing their food much harder. It is safe to say that she is a full-on cat lover, although she always wanted a dog growing up. Unfortunately, her lifestyle did not allow for an energetic pup running around. 

“They need a lot of time, and you need to be there for them more, and my parents thought it wouldn’t have worked for us.” 

Dr. Brenner took gymnastics at a young age and did it four times a week for many hours a day. Another bucket list item for the chemist is horseback riding. As she said, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to ride a horse, actually.” 

After learning about her many hobbies and diverse collection of interests, it becomes nearly impossible not to wonder:why did Dr. Brenner choose to pursue chemistry? Surprisingly, Dr. Brenner did not always have her eyes set on chemistry. When she was younger, she dreamed of being a singer-songwriter, which she later concluded was unrealistic. Later, she wanted to be a veterinarian and shadowed one when she was just 11 years old. 

As Dr. Brenner got older, she turned towards everything science: “At 11 or 12 years old, I knew I wanted to do something with science, but never really knew exactly which branch of science.” 

In Dr. Brenner’s written response to my questions, she wrote, “My 12th-grade and 13th-grade chemistry teacher, Mr. Braun, was a big part of my inspiration to become a scientist with the intention to conduct research and teach at a university.”  

In high school, she noticed herself excelling in chemistry and decided to become either a researcher or a teacher.  

Luckily, Dr. Brenner decided to come teach at our school, educating students about her passion for chemistry. Many people do not realize the time and dedication she puts into our school. After hearing about her daily routines, crammed with chemistry and commutes, it becomes nearly impossible to ignore her unwavering influence on the Grace Community.