According to Penn State University, his alma mater and his father's employer, Herbstritt was an altar boy, an avid runner and ambitious student. "He was ambitious and had a lot of gumption," Jeremy's grandfather Thomas Herbstritt said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "He believed in helping people. He wouldn't turn anybody down."
Herbstritt had two undergraduate degrees from Penn State, one in biochemistry and molecular biology from 2003, and another in civil engineering from 2006, Penn State officials said. He was the oldest of four siblings. Herbstritt's parents were in Boston on Monday to watch a daughter run in the Boston Marathon. They had been planning to return home Tuesday, but instead were en route Tuesday night to the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Penn State spokesman Geoff Rushton said. While Herbstritt grew up helping his father raise steer and sheep, his career ambition was to become a civil engineer. "He liked to work on machinery, take a lot of stuff apart and fixed it," Thomas Herbstritt said. "He was a studious kid." The proud grandfather also said Jeremy was involved in research on the West Nile virus. He had been an altar boy. He liked to kayak, and, like others in his family, was an avid runner.
Herbstritt talked of getting into environmental work after school, said Pam Vaiana, a family friend and principal of the Catholic grammar school that Herbstritt attended. She said he often went out of his way to be welcoming to others, and liked to talk to her husband, who works in the field, about classes and future career plans.
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