New UND graduate’s love of numbers and dance leads to well-rounded college education in only three years

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New UND graduate’s love of numbers and dance leads to well-rounded college education in only three years

At age 20, University of North Dakota student Amber Rose Gutting already has something most 20-somethings don't: a college degree.

Major: mathematics. Minor: dance.

Done in three years, Gutting got a head start at St. Cloud State University, where, while a high school student, she completed 31 credits of college courses. She ended up graduating high school at age 17.

"I was lucky," said Gutting, who grew up in the Twin Cities area and in Becker, Minn. "I was part of a Minnesota program that encouraged gifted students to get college credits before graduating high school."

Both her parents ? her dad, a wood finisher, her mom, a retirement plans consultant ? encouraged their daughter, an only child, to get on with the business of schooling, even if it meant studying on a college campus.

"They were OK with it as long as I kept them informed about where I was," said Gutting, who was an active gymnast from an early age until the discovery of a blood disorder ended that for her at 15.

Even before her schooling began, Gutting was aware that she was good with numbers, an interest and talent she was encouraged to pursue.

"I was behind in reading, but always good with the math classes," said Gutting, who has challenged herself physically by taking dance classes at UND. "By the time I reached middle school, I was put into advanced-placement mathematics courses, and it affected what I did in high school because it put me a year ahead. I was able to keep up because my school was on the block system ? four 1.5 hour classes a day ? so I had plenty of study time at school. That's when I'd do most of my homework. It's a structure that helped me advance."

Gutting hung out with high-achieving friends, but otherwise, she says, life was pretty normal. That is until the blood clot cut her gymnastic ambitions short.

"The school nurse spotted it in my leg. it was deep vein thrombosis, and also part of the clot migrated to the lungs, so I also got pulmonary embolism," she said. "The clot was surgically removed, then I took a special shot of lovenox in the stomach daily for a while. It limited my athletics but not my academics. Now I don't have to take blood thinners anymore, and the doctors told me I can have children."

Gutting says she enjoyed her UND experience.

"I appreciated the freedom and I had fun working at the Walsh Student Service Center for two years," she said. "And I really enjoyed the opportunity to dance ? it was a really big de-stressor, it helped me get away from everything. And I was able to use in dance a lot of what I had learned as a gymnast."

Now, with a degree in mathematics, she'll pick up at UND 2014 spring commencement on Saturday, May 17, she's ready to look for a job.

"My mom introduced me through her career to look at actuarial science, so I'm going back to my parents' house this summer, and start the job search from there."

Juan Miguel Pedraza University & Public Affairs writer

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