Schuylkill Speaks: Alivia Payne’s college journey goes beyond the field

Schuylkill Speaks graphic featuring Alivia Payne
Credit: Penn State

Editor's note: This story is part of a series profiling exceptional members of Penn State Schuylkill’s graduating class. For more stories like Payne's, visit

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. —  Alivia Payne thought she had a clear vision when beginning her college journey, initially pursuing a degree in physical therapy at Penn State Mont Alto. However, it didn’t take long for her to realize that her passion was elsewhere. Payne’s interest in communication arts was sparked when she served as the communication director of her high school's Mini-THON, and it reignited after visiting Penn State Schuylkill. She’ll graduate from the campus, where she also joined the softball team, with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in May. Absorbed in the togetherness of the softball program and embraced by supportive staff like Kayla Felty, director of athletics, Payne said she found a home where her talents could flourish.

Payne’s college experience has been deeply intertwined with her involvement in campus athletics, particularly through her dedication to her internship with the athletics department. Reflecting on her time, she acknowledges the impact athletics had on her overall college experience, shaping not only her extracurricular engagement but also her presence on campus. Additionally, her involvement in the corporate communication program provided a transformative academic experience, notably under the guidance of Valerie Schrader, professor of communication arts and sciences, and Janelle L. H. Gruber, lecturer and program coordinator of corporate communication. Their dynamic teaching styles offered Payne a mixed perspective on communication studies, with Gruber’s advising playing a pivotal role in her accelerated completion of a four-year degree in just three years, alongside a business minor and sports administration certificate. Payne’s campus involvement has not only enriched her college journey but has also driven her towards academic and personal growth, leaving an unforgettable mark on her college years.

Her interactions with fellow corporate communication students, each with unique aspirations, illuminated the diverse avenues that this degree can unlock. Inspired by her peers’ ambitions, Alivia is focused on the sports industry, where she envisions herself making a mark in sports media or operations. Looking ahead, Alivia would like to delve into graduate studies while simultaneously pursuing opportunities in the sports world, whether with professional teams, colleges or high schools. With a drive for success, Payne stands optimistic to carve out a career path fueled by her passion for communication arts and sports.

“Alivia Payne has been a transformative force for our athletics department's social media and branding at Penn State Schuylkill this year as our intern,” Felty said. “With a wealth of innovative ideas, Alivia significantly enhanced the visibility of our players, their achievements and the campus. Her creativity has elevated our game day experience to unprecedented levels, establishing a new benchmark for how we engage with our athletes and fans. Her attention to detail, clear communication and exceptional performance as an intern surpassed all our expectations. Alivia has truly redefined the standards for our athletics media and branding and has left a lasting impact that will benefit our department for many years to come. I am deeply appreciative of her contributions and confident that she will be a tremendous asset to any organization fortunate enough to employ her.”

Alivia Payne’s college journey serves as a testament to the transformative potential of self-discovery and determination. Guided by supportive mentors and fueled by her involvement in campus athletics and extracurricular activities, she has not only grown from her academic experience but has also laid the foundation for a future in the sports industry. As she looks ahead to graduate studies and opportunities in sports operations, Payne remains devoted to making an impact.

Q: Outside of academics, what was the most valuable lesson you learned?

Payne: Just put yourself out there and network, whether it’s making friends or possible connections for a job or internship.

Q: What clubs and activities do you participate in, and how did they impact your time on campus?

Payne: I participate in softball, Lambda Pi Eta (National Communication Association’s honor society), Chi Alpha Sigma (student athlete national honor society), and I have an internship with the athletics department.

Each of these opportunities helped me get involved on campus. I probably would just be chilling in my room with my friends, but now I feel like I am all over campus all the time.

Q: What is your favorite Penn State Schuylkill memory?

Payne: I think my favorite memory is when we as a softball team got bid for nationals. We were excited to be all together as a Penn State Schuylkill family.