The Suits star, 35, attended the all-girl Catholic school Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, where notable alumnaes include A-listers Pat Carroll, Mary Tyler Moore and Tyra Banks (class of ’91).
“Meghan was really charismatic and was a very hard worker and very focused and you could tell she was going to do something special with her life,” Markle’s Immaculate Heart schoolmate tells PEOPLE.
Before graduating in 1999, Markle starred in several school productions including a part in Damn Yankees! at neighboring all-boys school Loyola.
“She acted as a TA in drama and most kids our age wouldn’t have felt as confident in their skills,” the classmate recalls. “She was bubbly, optimistic and positive. She was also very focused and had her eye on the prize – she knew where she wanted to go to college and she knew she wanted to do drama.”
Adding, “She had the talent and focus to back it up and you could tell she knew the work it would take and she was willing to put in the work.”
While Markle – who went on to double major in Drama/International Relations at Northwestern – has been romantically linked to Prince Harry, her first brush with royalty was actually in high school when she was nominated for prom court. “She was a role model and was inspiring,” the high school friend says. And though Markle did not win prom queen, “everybody knew her and she had an ability to be effortlessly kind.”
As for Markle’s latest royal romance, the classmate believes it’s a love match: “With her (work with) the UN and philanthropic interests, it (seems like) their goals and ideals are in alignment.”
A separate source close to Markle tells PEOPLE, “Harry is lucky to have her!”
“No one who knows Meghan could have a bad word to say about her. She is the kindest person, and incredibly smart. She doesn’t buy into Hollywood fakeness. She’s a genuinely good person who cares about others,” the insider shares.