Rebecca Alt was in elementary school when she started using a student planner. At 22, she's still drawn to the rigor of the classroom.
Of course, she continues to keep a tidy planner — this time for the demands of starting a doctoral program, not third grade.
"I always loved learning," said Rebecca, who is back in Central City this summer after graduating from Penn State University and before heading to the University of Maryland to begin her doctoral studies this fall.
Her mother, Meri Ann Alt, said Rebecca always had a knack for studying.
"She just was always organized and knew what she needed to get done," she said. "She wasn't one of those who waited until the night before. She always had a study plan."
It makes sense, then, that Rebecca discovered her calling while sitting in a class.
After graduating from Shade-Central City High School in '09, she chose to study natural sciences at University Park. Her first semester, she enrolled in a required introductory speech class, she said, and found herself smitten.
"I was enrolled in biology and math and still exploring this other thing I had this attraction to," she said. "I realized I really loved it. I started talking to those in the (communications) field and trying out courses."
She made the switch to communications arts and sciences. She also discovered a love for teaching at Penn State when she became an academic tutor for student athletes. By the time she graduated this year (with honors from the university's Schreyer Honors College), Rebecca knew she wanted to continue as a student and eventually work as a professor at a big research university.
"I was figuring out what I loved at Penn State, and I realized I had taken every course I could take (in my field), and I wanted to learn more," she said. "That was when I realized I wanted to be a scholar, to work in academics, to teach and write and live that sort of life."