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Compassion Meets Creativity in a Minnetonka High School Senior

Student Spotlight: Minnetonka senior Emma Mulder balances school and work with a passion for helping others.

Warm and lively, complex yet well-balanced. 

This description fits Emma Mulder as well as the cappuccinos she serves at Caribou. 

The senior could probably use a little caffeine. She juggles three part-time jobs, while taking advanced placement courses and participating in DECA and National Honor Society.

“I’m saving for college,” explained Mulder, who is looking to add a fourth job to her busy schedule. “I don’t sleep a lot.”

Mulder has a big heart and big plans after graduation.

“I want to become a psychologist and open a free psychiatric clinic,” she said. “I have seen people that need help and can’t afford it and I want to fulfill that need.”  She may also serve a stint in the Peace Corps to aid the needy in Africa.

Mulder’s compassion is local too. She tutors at-risk students in Minneapolis elementary schools.

“I tutor because I love helping kids and seeing the excitement when they master a new math problem or when they understand something about a book,” said the teen.

Mulder is also contributing to breast cancer awareness. She promised her Caribou co-workers that she will dye her blond hair pink if they sell 200 pounds of coffee for the cause by Oct. 15. 

Mulder learned about compassion by growing up with and caring for a sibling with special needs. Her brother Brandon, a 2010 Minnetonka graduate, has Down Syndrome. “This has made me less judgmental,” she said. “My heart is like a marshmallow.” 

She admits it will be tough to leave Brandon for college next year. “We’ve never been separated for more than a week."

This fall, she is considering colleges in Boston, Denver, Montana and Minnesota, with plans to double-major in psychology and entrepreneurship and minor in literature.

Mulder maintains balance in her busy life through a variety of creative pursuits.

“Many people think all I do is work and study,” she said. “A lot of people don't know that I am really interested and invested in local art and local musicians.”

Mulder stays in touch with her artistic side by singing, painting and drawing. “I sing every day,” she shared. “And I always carry my sketchbook and Sharpies in my backpack.”

Mulder also likes to hang out with friends, working on car engines or watching sports together.

She says her interests have been inspired by many people, ranging from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. 

Her compassion and determination has been inspired by her family. She calls older sister, Jenny, her hero.

She credits her parents too: “They’ve given me the freedom to become the person I want to become.” 

Mulder and her family live in Excelsior.

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