Amber Nicholson's charismatic personality and 4A state championship golf swing are taking her nearly 1,300 miles away from home to begin the collegiate chapter of her life.
Nicholson, a Moffat County High School senior, officially signed a letter of intent to play golf at NCAA Division II Saint Joseph's College in Renssalaer, Ind., on a one-third athletic scholarship.
St. Joseph's College is in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and has an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students.
"They sent me a flier, and I told them I was hoping to play golf in college," Nicholson said. "After sending them a golf resume, my coach, Ann Marie Hamilton, contacted them and I guess you could say I gave in."
While on a tour of the campus in late January with parents Susan and Billy, Nicholson tested for a presidential scholarship while getting red carpet treatment throughout the weekend.
Susan and Billy were impressed with the campus, the personable 15-to-1 student to faculty ratio and the overall treatment during their weekend visit.
"They all made us feel welcome, were very friendly and we just had a good feeling overall," Susan said.
Billy stressed the school's importance on academics as a selling point.
"They are good people, and are really into taking care of the kids," he said. "Even though they offered a golf scholarship, they were serious about the academic side of things as well."
About one month after the visit, Nicholson found out she didn't receive the full presidential scholarship as hoped, but seemed to take it in stride.
"I guess someone was more charismatic than me," she said. "I have a 3.9 grade point average at MCHS, but that won't last much longer -- I have senioritis pretty bad."
After using her MCHS independent study semester at Eyecare Specialties, Amber hopes to study pre-optometry at St. Joseph's.
"I knew I wanted to be a doctor of something, and the idea of being a golf professional was not too realistic, but I would love to be an optometrist," she said.
Susan said her daughter is good with people and has enjoyed working with doctors Danner and Eckroth.
With her St. Joseph's diploma in hand, Amber plans to either return to Colorado or "somewhere east of here."
The teen said her family, including younger sister Heather, spent many summers and family holidays with relatives in upstate New York.
Hamilton said Nicholson's leadership abilities would be missed.
"It is sweet-sour news," Nicholson said. "We'll miss her tremendously, but wish her the best in all her pursuits."