Rhea Kunder: On Track To Become A Boilermaker


Jane Gatzemeyer, Writer-East

Ever wonder how the decisions made high school pay off in the future? Well, Rhea Kunder has it all covered!

Rhea is a senior at Elkhart-East and has used her internship at CTS as a stepping stone toward her future. When fall starts, this 18-year-old is heading to Purdue to pursue her goal: earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Rhea has really benefitted from her internship and always strives to do her best. While her work at CTS has confirmed her passion for her area of study, it was her mother—a former mechanical engineer herself—who set this wheel in motion. “I really like working with my hands and solving problems,” exclaims Rhea.

While Kunder shares her mother’s career passions, the entire family shares another trait: their names all begin with the letter “R.” Her mom is Rema, her dad is Roi, and her only sister is Raina. To add onto that, Rhea and Raina share the same birthday. In fact, they’re twins! So, it make one wonder if these girls who have done everything together their whole lives will continue that with college. “We will both, indeed, be going to the same college!” Rhea proudly states.

As identical as these twins may be, Rhea does have her own personal interests. She has always been very fascinated in Greek/Roman Mythology, as well as Marvel/DC superheroes. Rhea also enjoys various books created by Rick Riordan, the creator of the Percy Jackson series. But, when it comes to superheroes, though, her favorite DC character of all time is Batman! “I do hope I’ll have time to read in college,” she states, “but I’m sure I’ll find time.”

Rhea stresses the importance of having hobbies in one’s life. “I also really take pleasure in doing art projects and spending time with my friends.” In high school, that meant swimming at her house with friends, going to football games to support Elkhart-East, baking, and watching her favorite shows like The Flash. Like so many teens, Rhea and her friends also loved painting the school colors of their faces before the football games to support their school.

In addition to watching sports, Rhea was also quite involved with them herself. In fact, she has been swimming with Coach Michelle since she was a little girl in elementary school. In total, Rhea has been swimming for ten years, which is more than half her life. She swam for Elkhart Central and participated in club swimming with Elkhart United Aquatics!  “The 100 Freestyle is definitely my favorite event to swim,” she confesses. In layman’s terms, that’s four lengths of the pool!

Does Rhea plan to join Purdue’s swim team? “I will not be swimming competitively next year in college,” she notes with a touch of sadness, “because I’ve been swimming for so long—and now I’m just done.” But, that doesn’t mean Rhea won’t be swimming at all: “I will be swimming for exercise,” she concludes.

One of the reasons for this decision is due to a knee surgery she underwent the summer going into her freshman year. She has admitted that it made things more difficult than she had wished, but it also taught her a lot. It taught her the value of patience and determination, because eventually, Rhea was able to heal and get right back into the pool. And, it taught her the value of having family and friends around to help her through it all.

Like most young adults, Rhea is nervous about leaving Elkhart-East—the home she’s stayed at for four years! Paradoxically, she’s also very excited! In a few short months, she will be putting her foot forward into the next step of her life. And, as scary as that might be, Rhea is prepared for whatever tomorrow holds.

The world is wide open to new experiences that she can’t wait to experience. “Making new friends and meeting new people is definitely a huge excitement for me!”