By Ryan Holt
Special to GoHolyCross.com
When you think of summer, images of the beach, sun and relaxing cookouts come to mind. For Holy Cross junior volleyball player Kate Ginsbach, those were replaced with the everyday grind of working for U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D - SD) in Rapid City, South Dakota. "I spent the majority of my time there listening and responding to the concerns of her constituents," Ginsbach reflected. "It was a tremendous experience to be able to hear different opinions and stances on different issues directly affecting South Dakota."
Ginsbach, a native of Hot Springs, South Dakota, has been interested in the political process for as long as she can remember. "When I was little, my dad ran for state's attorney," she recalled. "I would run around county fairs with shirts that said ‘Vote for my Dad!"
At Hot Springs High School, Ginsbach was extremely active both in sports and in extracurricular activities. She played volleyball, basketball and also was a mid-distance runner on the track and field team. As if her schedule was not busy enough, she was also the president of the student body and the National Honor Society. When it came time to decide on colleges, it was her family who influenced her decision to come to Mount St. James. "My mother works at a Jesuit high school in South Dakota and my brother goes to Creighton University in Nebraska," she said. "I knew I wanted to come to a Jesuit college and Holy Cross was about as far away from home my parents would let me go."
Holy Cross and its liberal arts tradition opened the door for Ginsbach to pursue her interest of environmental studies. Through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, she created her major of environmental studies. The process includes creating a proposal and schedule for the major years in advance. "My education at Holy Cross really prepared me for working in the Rep. Herseth Sandlin's office this summer. The college has many diverse students with varying opinions on different issues which were similar to the different interests of her constituents," she commented. "Sophomore year I took Professor Green's class on environmental history which peaked my interest. It was a great class."
This summer was a particularly busy summer for Congress with the constant debate over the healthcare issue, but more particular to South Dakota, environmental concerns with the ‘Cap and Trade' Bill. "The bill would be beneficial for the environment, but not necessarily for the people of South Dakota," said Ginsbach. "It was difficult to set aside personal feelings towards the environment and defend the concerns of the constituents. I knew these were contested issues but, I didn't realize just how much red-tape was involved in the political process particularly with environmental policy."
Although some of her duties in the office were making copies and sending letters, being able to talk with the constituents of Rep. Herseth Sandlin was a highlight of the summer. "I could not imagine the amount of people that called on daily basis," she laughed. "I was surprised as just how many people used our services. It showed that people truly care about the issues in Congress. Much like at Holy Cross, South Dakota has plenty of varying interests which was interesting to hear."
This was not the first time that Ginsbach assisted a member of Congress. In high school, she worked on the campaign of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. "Working for the campaign gave me an insight into the political process and how certain things work," she explained.
However, it was one brush with a Congressman in high school that gave Ginsbach an interesting story to tell. While on a class trip in high school in Washington, D.C., Ginsbach wanted more than what the program was offering in terms of seeing the government. "I turned to my teacher and commented that it would be great to see someone like Senator (Hillary) Clinton," Ginsbach continued. "Then, all of a sudden, I looked around and standing outside the building was Sen. Barack Obama. My teacher didn't believe me but, I went up to him and although he looked stressed, he took a picture with me and everything. I like to say I knew him before he was famous!"
Although she says she is undecided as to what she wants to do in the future, her experiences in high school, at Holy Cross and working for Rep. Herseth Sandlin gives this Crusader a bright future.