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RHS connection continues at capitol

Emma Zschunke is one of two Rosemount High School graduates working as an intern for Sen. Greg Clausen, a former RHS principal.

When Greg Clausen was principal of Rosemount High School it was his job to make sure Rosemount students got a good education.

Clausen is retired now, serving his first term as a Minnesota Senator, but he's still helping Rosemount students where he can. He has had two interns this year at the capitol, and both are Rosemount High School graduates.

The interns, Emma Zschunke and Christina Zilhart, are both political science majors at the University of Minnesota.

Neither Zschunke nor Zilhart was a student at RHS when Clausen was principal there, but he's familiar with both families. He has known Zschunke's family for many years. Her father was band teacher at RHS before moving to Rosemount Middle School, and Clausen knew Zilhart's sister when she was at RHS. Zschunke, a sophomore at the U of M, reached out to Clausen about the intern position after he was elected. Zilhart, a senior, went through an application process.

"I was hesitant at first to even ask, because we did know him," Zschunke said. "I didn't want to use the relationship."

Clausen said intern applicants are typically directed to the district where they live.

Zschunke and Zilhart each spends 10 to 15 hours per week handling office work, responding to comments from district residents or sitting in on meetings Clausen is unable to attend.

"They do a great job of taking notes and then updating me on what is happening in those other committees," Clausen said. "I think they had a good experience. Hopefully it's one that helps them in their career decision."

Zschunke is pursuing a career in politics. She would like to work as a campaign manager, and she said working at the capitol has only increased her interest.

"It just makes me more excited than anything," she said. "It definitely makes it seem like my goals for my career are more attainable."

The internship is good work experience for Zschunke and Zilhart, and for Clausen it's nice to have people around to keep him up to date with what's happening at his old job.

"It's good to have conversations every once in awhile about classmates," he said. "I'm always interested in finding out what former students from Rosemount are doing."