When English major Rebecca Bauman first came to PSU, she wasn't on the typical path of most students. She already knew she wanted to work as a journalist, a career that doesn't always require a degree, therefore finishing hers wasn't a top priority. Instead, she was interested in getting experience by writing for PSU's student newspaper The Collegio.
"I enrolled in the classes I wanted, not the ones I needed," she said. "I didn't believe I could get through college. It was a long time before I felt comfortable in a classroom without wanting to bolt."
It took nearly two years and a fellowship with Esquire magazine in New York City before she changed her mind - and focus - about school. She'd had plans to build her portfolio at the magazine before seeking a job at a big publication, but as she watched her father struggle to get out of journalism himself, she worried being without a degree would limit her too much. She left the fellowship two weeks early to re-enroll at Pitt State - this time in pursuit of a degree.
"I realized I needed to prepare myself to have flexibility in my life," she said. "I was scared of committing myself to a life I wasn't sure I wanted, and I knew a degree would give me options. I was afraid of coming back and taking Algebra, Physical Science, French, all those classes I'd need. But I wanted it badly enough and I found my footing."
On track to graduate in May, she'll leave a trail of accomplishment. A longtime contributor to the Collegio, Bauman has won both national and state honors for her writing. She's also a longtime employee of PSU's Nature Reach, and has found a passion in poetry and women's studies.
As someone who is bravely committed to her educational course, Bauman knows that when she graduates, her life will take new paths that wouldn't have been possible before.
"I'm so grateful to this university," she said. "I've been to other schools, and this is the only one that made a difference for me. Because of the newspaper and women's studies and the English faculty, I became a person I feel has value. I'm beyond thankful."