Rynne Ambrose A’08, C’12 will soon earn her doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. A 2014 recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, Ambrose’s research on the design of anti-cancer drugs for pancreatic cancer has the potential to change millions of lives. When asked where her passion for the sciences and dedication to advancing cancer research was kindled, the answer is clear: Salem Academy.
“I definitely received my foundations in science and for research from the Academy,” says Ambrose. During January Term of her junior year, she conducted sea turtle barnacle taxonomy research with the Caretta Research Foundation in Savannah, GA, where she helped to discover a new species of barnacle. “That experience is something that I am very grateful for,” she adds.
Salem also prepared her for the diversity she would encounter in UT Austin’s student population of more than 50,000.
“That’s one of the great things about Salem,” says Ambrose. “There is a great diversity within the student body that allows you to learn a lot about other people. The diversity I encountered at Salem gave me such a wonderful way to approach the world.”
Ambrose also learned the value of single-gender education when she chose to attend a large university after high school.
“I thought a major university will help advance my career aspirations and prepare me for graduate school.” Ambrose says she was mistaken. “I missed the connection with my professors, and I missed being a student among many more students who truly wanted to learn and who took their studies seriously.”
She tried a smaller co-ed college. Still dissatisfied, she returned to familiar roots and enrolled at Salem College. “Being back on campus and studying with some of the most intelligent young women and caring professors made all the difference in my success as a student.”
Ambrose credits her Salem College professors for shaping her scientific foundations, forged at Salem Academy, into her life passion.
“Working side by side with my professors in the lab, being challenged to use the material I was learning, and testing my knowledge in real-word internships, set me on the path I am completing at the University of Texas.”
What advice would you give to a student considering Salem Academy?
Do it! I learned so many great skills at Salem, and I have the best friends I have ever made thanks to Salem. I got more out of Salem Academy than I could have ever dreamed about at any other high school.