Student Uses Grit to Graduate Early

Chelsea Diederich | Communications Specialist

Kylie Jutz had plans to defy what data said would happen in her life. Jutz, a Native American student at Moorhead High School, transferred her freshman year. “A lot of Native Americans don’t graduate high school,” says Jutz. “I wanted to be the change and help other students by showing them it’s possible.” Graduation rates among Native American Students are 53.8% at Moorhead Area Public Schools and 50.8% statewide. This is in comparison to all students combined graduation rate of 81.5% at Moorhead Area Public Schools and 85.3% statewide. Not only did Jutz graduate, but she graduated a semester early. She is ready to take on the world, acknowledging her accomplishments over the past four years.

What is the key to this amazing young woman’s success? In high school, the biggest lesson she learned was staying focused. Jutz discovered that through determination, accomplishing your goals can become a reality. She says her acting teacher, Mrs. Gunderson helped her achieve her goal of graduating. “I loved her from the start,” says Jutz. “I have had her every single year. She has been my inspiration and motivation.” One piece of Gunderson’s advice that stuck with Jutz throughout her four years was to have grit in everything you do. 

Helping others was another key motivating factor for Jutz. During high school, she participated in a nation-wide student group called SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions. SADD’s mission is to empower young people to successfully confront the risks and pressures that challenge them throughout their daily lives. 

She was also the student representative for Indian Education. “I wanted to volunteer for this role to be an active voice for students,” says Jutz. During her time at Moorhead High School, Jutz presented for Indigenous Peoples Day, organized trips for college visits and created an attendance initiative for students. She worked with liaisons to create a rewards-based system to improve attendance and graduation rates of Native American students. 

Mackenzie Bucklin, Indian education liaison, worked with Jutz during her final semester at Moorhead High School. “Kylie is a very driven and compassionate individual and is dedicated to helping others,” says Bucklin. “She is a wonderful student and there is nothing she can’t accomplish once she sets her mind to it!”

This past November after graduating six months early, Jutz enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. She will travel to Kentucky this summer to start officer training. Jutz will attend Minnesota State University Moorhead this fall to study Criminal Justice. She will also take part in ROTC. Her decision all goes back to helping others. “I want to be able to help teenagers and minorities and give them a hand,” says Jutz. “A lot of them don’t get second chances. I want to help with that.”

Jutz looks forward to her next step in life. She is defying statistics, showing others that you can accomplish what you set your mind to. “My advice for students is to never give up, even when it gets hard,” says Jutz. “Just push through, even if you have to ask for help, ask for help.”

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