Portfolio: Mark J. Sanderson



INTERVIEWER at The Saints of San Antonio

During my last year of graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin I developed an interest in documenting the Mormon history of the area. With sponsorship from Dr. Howard Miller, a History professor, I was given access to video production equipment from the Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services. Accompanied by a few talented friends, I set out to interview the Mormon pioneers in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Austin (which, at one time, were all one “stake” or ecclesiastical unit). Over a period of six months, I interviewed 30 people and video-taped the 50th anniversary fireside of the San Antonio Stake.

After several months of video editing and building a demo website (with the help of my cousin, Brian), I made a presentation about the project at the LDS Church Historical Department in November 2008. My major insight was that everyone assumes all Mormons live in Utah, which creates misunderstanding about the Church and makes Mormons outside Utah feel some level of resentment. I recommended that future media/branding projects focus on the rich history/culture of the international church population, rather than portray a generic church population that would be mistaken for Utah. This would educate non-Mormons about the size and growth of the Church and build pride among local Church members. The presentation was well-received.

Recently, I was informed that interview clips from the project are being used as a show-and-tell of ‘what interviews can be like’ in the LDS Church Media Services Department. Also, the story about glass from the Bailey Street Chapel windows being used in the construction of the San Antonio Temple was cited by Chad Hawkins in his book, Temples of the New Millennium (Deseret Book, 2016).


GRADUATE STUDENT at The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin boasts the #1 ranked Advertising program in the United States. My focus within their graduate program was Account Planning, or studying consumer behavior to gain insights that can be applied to advertising efforts and customer interactions. Class projects included the Austin Farmers’ Market, the Former Texas Rangers Foundation, Barfly by TouchTunes, concert hall music, and binge drinking.

For my Master’s Report, I researched how to increase public visits to the Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation, a privately-owned research facility located about 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, TX on a 7,800-acre wildlife refuge. My research included interviewing school teachers (public, private, and home) who had taken their students on field trips to the Refuge, and comparing it to the experience that public visitors enjoyed. To gain insight on the Welder brand, I interviewed the director and his wife, the graduate student in charge of school visits, and a Welder fellow from the early 1970s.

Accompanying my 48-page report was a 12-minute video I edited from my interview footage.

VIDEO PRODUCTION ASSISTANT at Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services (UT-Austin)

During my two years of graduate school, I worked at the Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services and assisted with the video component of various academic projects, including campus lectures, research projects, and instructional websites.


Medical Ethics and the Holocaust” was a 28-speaker lecture series (that included three Nobel Laureates) hosted by Holocaust Museum Houston. We edited the footage we received from Houston and prepared it for viewing online. It was a compelling and sobering project to work on.


Jesus in American Culture” involved a three-camera set-up to video-tape an entire course (three days a week adding up to 40 lectures) taught by the distinguished professor, Dr. Howard Miller. The course centered around how interpretations of Jesus have changed from time to time and by different groups throughout the past few hundred years of American history. After carefully editing each lecture, adding class slides, and adjusting audio levels, the videos were permanently housed on a website. I found the lectures to be interesting and engaging.


The Texas Politics Speaker Series featured a lecture by a state political figure and occurred a few times each semester. During the lecture I would usually operate a camera that captured crowd shots and side shots of the speaker. Afterward, I would edit and prepare the footage for online viewing. In the process, I was able to learn a lot about state politics from both sides of the aisle.


During my first two years as an undergraduate student, I worked for BYU Broadcasting,  writing and producing 50 television spots for KBYU (a regional PBS affiliate) and BYU Television (an international station). These mostly included the first membership spots for BYU Television, the monthly KBYU Kids’ Club Activity spot, and spots that would air during pledge drives. Here are a few examples of my work:

RESEARCHER/WRITER at Brigham Young University

During my last two years at Brigham Young University, I was hired by Dr. Fred Woods to be his Research Assistant. Thus began an exciting period of tutelage in historical research and scholarly writing that has left an indelible impression upon me. Below is a list of the two books and six articles I assisted him with.


Fire on Ice: The Story of Icelandic Latter-day Saints at Home and Abroad tells the story of the immigration of Icelanders to the American West in the 19th Century. My main responsibility for the book was compiling sources used in Appendix A. I also reviewed historical documents used in the text.

One of the exciting aspects of this project was attending the dedication of the Icelandic Monument in Spanish Fork, Utah. In attendance were the President of Iceland and the President of the LDS Church. It was a memorable event. Another exciting aspect was that the book was later turned into a 30-minute documentary, Fire on Ice: The Saints of Iceland. When I first saw it at the private debut screening, I thought it was flawless and beautiful.


A Gamble in the Desert: The Mormon Mission in Las Vegas (1855-1857) tells the story of the original settlement of Las Vegas (in what later became the state of Nevada). For this project, I helped lay out each chapter, reviewed historical documents, and wrote the appendix (biographical sketches of the first 31 settlers).

The book was released in 2005, the centennial year of the city of Las Vegas and the sesquicentennial of the original settlement. That summer, Dr. Woods participated in the festivities at the Old Mormon Fort and the book was placed in school libraries as a resource for K-12 students and teachers.


1. Fred E. Woods, “‘I long to breathe the mountain air of Zion’s peaceful home’: Agnes Campbell’s Letter to Brigham Young from War-Torn Virginia,” BYU Studies, vol. 46, no. 1 (2007): 84-94.

2. Fred E. Woods, “An Islander’s View of a Desert Kingdom: Jonathan Napela Recounts his 1869 Visit to Salt Lake City,” BYU Studies 45, no. 1 (2006):23–34.

3. Fred E. Woods, “Surely This City is Bound to Shine,”: Descriptions of Salt Lake City by Western-Bound Emigrants, 1849-1868,” Utah Historical Quarterly 74, no. 1 (Fall 2006) 334 –348.

4. Fred E. Woods, “‘Pronounced Clean, Comfortable, and Good Looking:’The Passage of Mormon Immigrants Through the Port of Philadelphia,” Mormon Historical Studies, 6, no. 1 (Spring 2005):5–34.

5. Fred E. Woods, “The Voyage of the Timoleon: Launching Latter-day Saint Missionary Work in the Pacific,” The Log, Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT, 56, no. 1 (Spring 2005):12-21.

6. Fred E. Woods “Mormon Migration and the Fort Bridger Connection (1847-1868) Annals of Wyoming vol. 80, no.1 (Winter 2008):2-14.

Later, when I was a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin, I organized a speaking engagement for Dr. Woods at the University Catholic Center. He presented “Kalaupapa: Uncommon Service on Common Ground,” the story of interfaith charitable efforts at a Hawaiian leprosy settlement. Here’s a link to a televised version of his presentation and another link to a documentary he later produced on the same topic.

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