Gladiator battles are something one never hopes to see on the the playground of Fairview Elementary. For senior Dustin Angerhofer, though, these gladiator battles were a common occurrence and proved one of his favorite elementary pastimes and competitions.
“We would capture insects and put them in a jar and see which would eat each other,” Angerhofer said. “The praying mantis was by far the best.”
These days, Angerhofer is not regularly found torturing insects. Luckily for them, he now spends his time in quite different pastimes. Angerhofer is most visible as one of the math tutors for the high school, but he also leads the math and chess clubs as well as participating in the tennis team.
A self-described “thinker,” Angerhofer excels in the math and science courses NS offers and is the current math Sterling Scholar. In the college-level Calculus course, Angerhofer scored a 93 percent on the mid-term, a score fifteen points higher than any other in the class, and one higher than any teacher John Sadler had ever had in his class.
“He’s a bright kid,” Sadler said. “He is passionate about math.”
Despite what some see as a gift for math, Angerhofer doesn’t see himself intellectually superior to others. He attributes his success to another source.
“I don’t think of myself as smarter than others, [but] I don’t really work that hard either,” Angerhofer said. “I guess it comes down to that I’m genuinely interested in what this school has to offer and that really helps my performance.”
Angerhofer’s interest in mathematics started early. He recounts a time in Kindergarten when he was learning to count. Angerhofer became fascinated with the idea of one million, so he decided to sit in a corner and count to one million.
“Once I got to two or three thousand, I started counting by thousands,” Angerhofer said. “I figured I knew how to count to a thousand, so I didn’t need to do it a thousand times.”
Even now, Angerhofer is rarely without a problem to consume his time. He even has a whiteboard in his bedroom where he works on math or physics problems.
“I just erased my solution to the ‘Tour Knight’ problem,” Angerhofer said. “[That] is a problem that asks for a system to move a knight [chess piece] to all 64 squares on a chessboard. I developed my own algorithm to do that.”
Angerhofer also spends his time solving puzzle cubes, though he admits they can be infuriating occasionally.
“I do these puzzles to torture myself,” Angerhofer said. “I’m a masochist.”
More seriously, though, Angerhofer finds accomplishment in solving problems and finding patterns that can be cross-applied.
“You solve a Rubik’s cube like you solve a matrix,” Angerhofer said. “That’s the most relatable way I can explain it.”
This type of problem solving has also led Angerhofer to enjoy the Snow College computer science course. Angerhofer finds this class one application of mathematics in the real world.
“There are patterns in everything, especially in computers and networks,” Angerhofer said. “[This class] really opened up my eyes to applications of math in the real world.”
Angerhofer’s interest in mathematics is leading him to major in mathematical science at Southern Utah University after he serves an LDS mission. He hopes to be a professional mathematician.
“Mathematicians start at somewhere around 100,000 dollars a year,” Angerhofer said. “There is money to be made there.”
Whether it be as a business consultant, or a statistician, Angerhofer certainly plans on a different career than most student here at NS. For now, though, Angerhofer spends a lot of his time as a math tutor. Although Angerhofer does not plan on becoming a teacher anytime soon, he believes in the value and purpose of an education.
“Learn to enjoy school,” Angerhofer said. “If [students] want to be anything more than a farmer, they are going to have to go to school. To excel, they will have to enjoy it.”
Angerhofer credits some of his enjoyment of academics to his earliest teachers, and he wishes he saw more passion for teaching at NS.
“I had really good teachers in preschool and kindergarten,” Angerhofer said. “One flaw I see in some teachers here is that they are unenthusiastic about teaching.”
Angerhofer’s enthusiasm for math has even caught the eyes and impressed many of his teachers.
“If there were a personification of math, Dustin would be it,” said counselor Ben Cox. “He has a depth of passion for math that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.”
One reason Angerhofer believes he has been successful in academics is his lack of interest in other people. He believes this is a small price to pay, though.
“I’m not a socially-oriented person,” Angerhofer said. “I don’t really care about the people around me. They don’t intersect my world; I’m just in my own world.”
Despite his apathy towards others, Angerhofer doesn’t consider himself anti-social or awkward. He just chooses not to voluntarily engage with others.
“I don’t have problems dealing with people,” Angerhofer said. “It’s just not my default setting. I would rather just sit back and think.”