MECHANICSBURG, PA - Paige Nye boarded a plane for the first time June 30 for a life-changing quest that she is "extremely over prepared for."

She laughed as soon as she said it, but the 18-year-old, who joined the Mechanicsburg U.S. Army Recruiting Station's Future Soldier Program while she was still a junior at Northern High School in Dillsburg, Pa., wasn't joking.

"Paige has always been very motivated," her mother, Susan Nye said. "She's played all kinds of sports and musical instruments, but the one thing she seems to really enjoy the most is the Army."

After being in the program for about eight months, Nye enlisted in the Army last July, and a month later, she became the Platoon Guide - equivalent to an officer rank in the active-duty Army - for the Mechanicsburg Future Soldier Program.

Nye listed her duties as Platoon Guide, "I led the platoon. I called them out to formation. I taught facing movements and drills. I helped to prepare them for basic training."

The platoon consisted of anywhere from 15 to 20 Future Soldiers at a time, Nye said.

"We've watched the whole progression of her going through this program from learning about the Army to teaching it to Future Soldiers," said her recruiter, Sgt. 1st Class Scott Newcomer, who credits Nye with helping to prepare as many as 60 fellow Future Soldiers for their new lives as Soldiers.

Newcomer added that when Nye left June 30 for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., she did so as a private first class, E-3. Most recruits, he explained, come in as a private, E-1, and most E-2s are in the Army for a year and must have their supervisors' recommendation before making E-3. The pay difference between a private and private first class is more than $500 a month, and, Nye will also have a head start in making specialist, E-4.

She jumped up the ranks by referring someone into the Army and completing the Future Soldier Program, which includes marching, reading maps and passing a physical training test, the same one needed to graduate basic training.

A recruiter for four years, Newcomer has enlisted about 65 young men and women in the Army, and he said that only two or three other Future Soldiers made E-3 using the same method as Nye.

"It takes a lot of commitment (to complete the Future Soldier Program)," he explained.

In her senior year, Nye did her high school internship with the Mechanicsburg Recruiting Station where she came in everyday and did office work. Nye was excited to add that she even learned how to conduct a full interview on applicants. These interviews, she said, are to let the applicants know what the Army has to offer and to find out if they are eligible to join.

"Nye is high-speed - the best Future Soldier I have had in my company," said Maj. William Hammac, who has been the U.S. Army Carlisle Recruiting Company commander for 18 months. Mechanicsburg Recruiting Station is one of seven stations that fall under Hammac's command.

"We are very proud of her," said Nye's mother, who admits to having mixed emotions as Paige is the last of three children to be leaving home and the only girl. "I think (the Army) is a wonderful career choice."

Once she completes basic training, Nye will learn how to be a military intelligence analyst by attending the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachucha, Ariz.

Asked what she will be doing, Nye quickly replies, "A whole lot of stuff I am not allowed to talk about."

She laughed at this too, but again, she wasn't joking.