Rebecca Dikum shot to the top of the class at Resurrection Catholic High School in Pascagoula, where she was this year's valedictorian.
She earned that honor by holding down a 4.3 grade point average, becoming a National Merit Commended Scholar, and being a part of "just about every organization there is at the school," she said.
As a result, Dikum earned a full-tuition scholarship at the University of Alabama. She hopes to continue her successful academic career at the university, where she plans on studying air space engineering.
For Dikum, engineering is a natural transition. Her ultimate goal is to work for NASA.
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"It's just the way my brain works," she said. "I've always been around NASA. I've always admired and found an interest in engineering, in its design and how to maintain it.
I'm a left-brain thinker, analytical," she said.
When Rebecca first started at Resurrection, she wasn't exactly sure what field she would pursue. They all looked good to her.
"I want to be an artist, a soldier, a veterinarian, a nurse. I want to learn everything there is to know, I want today to prepare me for tomorrow, but I don't know what tomorrow will be like when I get there," she wrote in a poem.
With only 43 graduates this year, Dikum said her class has a unique and strong bond with one another. She believes it'll stay that way after high school.
"I may walk blindfolded and stumble along, not knowing exactly where it is that I'm headed, but I will never be alone. If I start to fall, I know that I will have 42 of my high school classmates to catch me," she said in her valedictorian address.
Her family has also provided constant support throughout high school, she said. When the classes started getting a little too advanced for mom to tutor, she would help in another way, she said.
"If I was up until midnight working on homework in the living room, my mom would stay up with me," she said. "She's been very supportive of me."
Even when she's not required to hit the books, Dikum said she gravitates toward them anyway.
"I love to read and write. Everything. It doesn't matter what it is honestly," she said.
Dikum was offered scholarships totalling over $359,000.
She is the daughter of Natalie and Steve Dikum.
Caroline Foster was his year's salutatorian. She is the daughter of Kelly and Joseph Foster.
Foster will attend the University of Mississippi where she will study biology and Spanish.