The Bennie Johnnie Experience on the Big Screen

February 5, 2024

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University are making history as the first two colleges in Minnesota to be featured on the Amazon Prime TV series The College Tour.

And members of the CSB and SJU campus communities will be first in line to view the finished episode.

A premiere watch party is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8 in the Benedicta Arts Center’s Escher Auditorium on the CSB campus. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with a red carpet entrance. The watch party itself is scheduled for 7 p.m. and an all-community afterparty follows at 8 p.m.

The first 50 students through the door will receive VIP seating and swag bags. Everyone in attendance will have the chance to win a free iPad. No ticket is needed to attend the event.

“We believe this episode perfectly demonstrates the Bennie-Johnnie experience students have on our beautiful campuses – surrounded by a supportive community,” said Cory Piper, the dean of admission at CSB and SJU.

“It comes at exactly the right moment. With Strong Integration as our focus and priority, and having just celebrated the inauguration of our first joint president (Brian J. Bruess, Ph.D.), it’s such a joyful time and such a meaningful period in the history of both our schools.”

More than 30 students auditioned to be part of the cast of four Johnnies and four Bennies (as well as one recent alum of each school) who share their stories in the episode. Auditions were held last September. The film and production crew of the program – which is now in its 11th season – arrived in early October, spending five days on the two campuses shooting interviews and footage for the 30-minute episode.

“Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s are just remarkable places and taping this episode was a tremendous experience,” the show’s host Alex Boylan said. “From the moment I set foot here, all the crew talked about was how the hospitality is real – we definitely felt it. And when folks watch the episode, they’re going to see it, too, and hear the passion for both institutions and the beauty in which they’re integrated.”

The episode will become available for viewing on the CSB and SJU website, YouTube and The College Tour website early this month, and is scheduled to begin streaming on Amazon Prime on May 28.

“Being in front of a camera, and getting the chance to share my story with a wide audience, provided me with a lot more confidence and belief in myself,” said cast member Ashley Tarrolly, a CSB senior and economics and finance major who is a member of the Bennie tennis team, founded the On-Campus Entrepreneurship Club and will graduate with honors this May.

“When I gave my capstone presentation at the end of the last semester, I thought back on my experience with The College Tour and it helped.”

Fellow cast member Kobe Forbes, a sophomore who came to SJU from The Bahamas, hopes sharing his experience will benefit other potential students from similar backgrounds.

“I thought it would be helpful for other international or POC students to hear from someone like me about what my experience has been like,” said Forbes, a physics major who is an engagement specialist at the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement and serves as a student senator.

“So I decided to shoot my shot. I wanted to let people know Saint John’s is not your ordinary, average college. The community we have, and the many different activities and clubs we offer, makes this place special. We support each other as Johnnies. There are so many friends you make here who have your back.”

Piper hopes the episode spreads the word about everything CSB and SJU has to offer to an even wider audience.

“We understand the expense of travelling to tour colleges can be a lot,” she said. “Our episode on these platforms allows us to share our story with a wide range of families and students nationally and internationally who will be able to watch from their homes. Our hope is that they’ll love what they see and come visit us!

“CSB and SJU’s strong integration is an incredibly unique model. Other schools that have been featured are one institution with one central campus. We’re two campuses and communities bonded together. We want to share that story and I believe our episode does that beautifully.”

WNMU campus to be featured in Amazon Prime show

By Anya Loya, The Deming Headlight I October 13, 2023

Oscar Arteaga, a Western New Mexico University international graduate student, will be featured on “The College Tour: Mustang Edition.” He is seen at the WNMU Museum, where he works as a graduate assistant. (Annya Loya/Deming Headlight)

The original version of this story misstated the length of the show’s episode. It will appear in the show’s 11th season, rather than the 10th. This update also corrects the spelling of Jillian Bernstein’s name.

Western New Mexico University will be featured on “The College Tour,” an award-winning TV series from Amazon Prime. The Silver City campus will be part of the show’s 11th season and is the first New Mexico college or university to be featured.

The series focuses on a different college or university across the country in each episode. The show also features multiple students, highlighting their experience at their schools. The show’s concept arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, when opportunities to attend in-person campus tours were restricted, on top of financial barriers to travel, according to the show’s host, Alex Boylan.

Filming will take place Nov. 6 through the 10th at the Silver City main campus. The show will follow 10 students from different backgrounds around multiple campus locations. Filming will include content from both the production team and the university, according to Linda Brown, the university’s communication specialist.

The episode will be divided into ten segments, one per student, and each student will get to collaborate on the segment’s script, Brown said.

WNMU students were encouraged to audition for the episode in early September and participants were selected later in the month. Auditions were held online, with students submitting two-minute videos about their experience at WNMU.

“I think the most important thing is that the student has an interesting story to tell about their experience at WNMU,” Brown said, “and second, I think we want stories that resonate with a wide audience. And of course we want to recruit students who have a good on-camera presence.”

Selected students will be able to cover different topics from academics to club activities to dorm life at WNMU, according to Brown.

Oscar Arteaga, an international graduate student from Venezuela, was selected as one of the show’s participants. Arteaga transferred to WNMU in 2022 from Emporia State University in Kansas and will graduate with a master’s in interdisciplinary studies in December.

“This is my last semester and I wanted to share my experience, share what I’ve learned, what it’s like to be an international student and all the services the university offers us,” Arteaga said.

Arteaga works as a graduate assistant at the WNMU Museum, where he talks about the exhibitions and collections as well as other office duties. He is also the treasurer of the International Student Association on campus, an organization created just this fall.

“In our organization, we’re trying to embrace diversity and guide international students and every other student about the resources campus offers,” Arteaga said.

The organization hopes to host a fashion show that will feature international students wearing traditional clothing from each of their countries, Arteaga said.

Arteaga plans to enter a doctoral program at New Mexico State University or find a job within WNMU after graduation.

The show will be another opportunity for the university to “get the word out,” as Brown put it. Being a smaller school, Brown said Western doesn’t have a national platform for marketing WNMU.

“There’s incredible work being done at the university by our students, by our faculty, by our staff,” Brown said. “So it’s just not coming from marketing or the administration, it’s coming from the students.”

Jillian and Stacey Bernstein, a mother and daughter attending WNMU, will also be featured on the show. Gillian is finishing up her master’s in social work and will graduate in December, while Stacey is going through her first semester of college as a biology major.

Both women highlight how much support they give each other on and off campus. Stacey helps her mom take care of her three younger siblings while her mom is at work or school and Gillian supports her daughter closely as she advances in college life.

“I feel like I’ve met my goal of becoming a role model for her, despite all the challenges and hardships that I have faced. So, to kind of come full circle where, you know, when I was a kid in college, I was pregnant, took a break. She’s very successful and that makes me very proud,” Gillian Berstein said.

She added that she’s thankful to be part of her daughter’s college experience and that it’s good for her younger kids to see their older sister thrive in college.

“The College Tour: Mustang Edition,” a 30-minute episode, will air on Amazon Prime and other streaming services in the spring.

Annya Loya can be reached at

Amazon Prime Show Filming at St. Ben’s, St. John’s next week

By WJON.COM I September 29, 2023

ST. JOSEPH/COLLEGEVILLE (WJON News) — Next week it won’t be just college co-eds strolling around campus at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.

A television production crew will be on both campuses as well.

The Amazon Prime series “The College Tour” will be filming Monday through Saturday.  The show is hosted by Alex Boylen with each episode telling the story of what life is truly like on a college campus.

In the series first season among the schools they featured were Arizona State, East Tennessee State, and the University of Connecticut.

St. Ben’s and St. John’s will be the first Minnesota colleges to be featured in the series.

The College Tour Trailer from The College Tour on Vimeo.

The school says the episode is scheduled to air sometime in the spring.