SENIOR PROFILE: Clifford Utech

by Cavan Pasek

“He’s pulled over to the side of the road to pick me up on my walks home,” said senior Cason Coats, grateful for Clifford Utech’s benevolence. “I never even ask for him to do it.”

Clifford is going to college at the University of Colorado Boulder for environmental studies, which he plans to “bring into a conservation career of some sorts.” This is in line with his deepest joy: “My happiest moment is when I’m outside,” he said. “I’m not texting anybody, I don’t have any service, and I can just be at peace by myself in nature.” 

On his perfect day, he said, Clifford would “wake up in Michigan in the upper peninsula, in the summer at my dad’s cabin. Just an early morning there, put some swim trunks on, go down to the lake, go swimming, go into town, have lunch…” Clifford paused in his description and closed his day with “some fishing at sunset. That’s just an ideal day for me. I love the North in Michigan.”

Moving here, however, turned out to be extremely positive. “It was a really big change, but it turned me into a whole new person. So that has to be one of my favorite moments in my life: moving to Colorado. I learned that I can overcome some really big stuff and still have success in my life.”

Clifford's parents “inspire me the most,” he said, describing them as “go-getters. They’re knocked down a lot and they keep pushing.” He said his mom “had a lot of backlash trying to open this lodge on Red Mountain Path, but she did it and became very successful off it.” Clifford is grateful for his parents and admires them “for their motivation and how they push through difficulties in their lives.”

He spends a lot of time here bird watching, “and,” he said, “I’m a big photographer.” He loves basketball, too, and plans to “play a lot of pickup games in college.” But the profession that Clifford will certainly pursue is photography, perhaps as “a minor when I go to college.” 

He’ll miss making his habitual order at Colorado Boy, the only one he’s made for years: a pizza with “pepperoni and sausage. It’s not healthy, but it’s by far my favorite food.” Yet he knows he’ll adjust to his new life. He advises freshmen not to “overthink high school: I was super stressed out. Some teachers kind of just pounded into my brain that high school is going to be terrifying.” But he found that “if you just go at high school with an open mindset you’re going to be fine.”

He plans to bring that mindset to college. And his classmates predict a promising future. “He’s just a very reliable person,” Cason said. “If you ask him to do something, he will do it.”