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Meet Rynne

Rynne Ambrose Hankins

Not Just A Number, Even if You Study Them

Rynne Ambrose Hankins A’08, C’12 is a Salem supporter through and through, having gone to both the Academy and College before earning her Ph.D. in chemistry from Wake Forest University. She cherishes her time at both Salem institutions, truly valuing the unique experiences they afforded her.

“At large schools, you’re just another number,” Rynne said. “At Salem, people know who you are and what your purpose is. It can give you a remarkable sense of self and give you space to find your purpose before heading out into the world past graduation.”

Rynne came to Salem Academy from Savannah, Georgia. The fact that her grandmother lived in Winston-Salem was a big draw, as was the diversity in the student body. She also liked that the campus was within walking distance of downtown, so it didn’t feel isolated.

Of her time at the Academy, Rynne said “Salem Academy is a unique experience. I had a totally different high school journey that I find a hard time articulating to others. Sure, you won’t have football games, but you will have a once in a lifetime opportunity that very few people will experience. I gained an exceptional amount of independence.”

As a career scientist, Rynne is delighted that the Academy has a STEAM focus. “The Academy does such a great job of taking the standard high school curriculum and presenting it to students in a way that makes it digestible and even fun,” she said.

One advantage of the Academy is the small student to teacher ratio and the connection that forms with the students and teachers. “I will say that I definitely am a scientist today because my high school teachers noticed that I was extremely interested in biology and worked with me to make sure I could grasp all of the information,” she said.

Rynne had an equally formative and memorable experience at Salem College. One thing she’d like everyone to know about the college is that “Salem is what you make it! It is entirely possible to create your own curriculum that meets your needs. Also, your faculty can help give you great guidance if there are specific skills you are looking for in your college experience.”

She also has very fond memories of life outside the classroom including the lifelong friendships she formed. “I loved communal living! I really enjoyed the downtime including hanging out with my Salem Sisters in the dorms, the refectory, and on Clewell Patio.”

Rynne currently works as a senior scientist in chemical research and development at Cambrex in High Point, North Carolina. Cambrex, a leading global contract development and manufacturing organization, provides drug products and drug substances within the pharmaceutical industry. Her role with Cambrex is to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to develop robust and scalable manufacturing processes for drug substances.

She is very thankful for her time at Salem Academy and Salem College and believes both institutions prepared her for the hard work and discipline required to earn a doctorate degree and pursue a career in the sciences. “I think that the Academy and College fostered a special type of independence. It takes a remarkable amount of self-direction and independence to obtain a Ph.D. and without the ability to keep yourself motivated in your studies it can be a hard task. I think that a lot of the independent study I did in both high school and college prepared me for my Ph.D. Also, the work experience I gained during my internships in both high school and college prepared me for the position I hold today.”

Rynne is excited by the health leadership focus at Salem College. “I believe that the health leadership focus is important because it not only prepares students in health sciences and health-related careers but also addresses the fact that we need strong people to be leaders and patient advocates. With the strong advancements that we have had in medicine, it is important to be patient focused. Teaching advocacy and leadership needs to advance as much as the technology has advanced.”

Coming to the Academy as a freshman in high school and Salem College as a student has impacted Rynne in so many ways. It set her on a strong path academically and professionally, but also where she lives. “I have tried several times to move away from Winston-Salem, but I keep finding my way back here—I love living in this city so much!”

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Salem College students at graduation

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