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A perfect 36: D-B's Glynn aces ACT, going into biomolecular engineering

Rick Wagner • Jan 20, 2019 at 7:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Allison Glynn, like her older sister in college, is pursuing a career in biomolecular engineering.

Both are seniors graduating this spring — Allison from Dobyns-Bennett High School and Kaitlin from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The younger Glynn, who earned a perfect 36 on the ACT college readiness exam last year, also is a semifinalist for a National Merit Scholarship after earning a 1570 out of a perfect 1600 on her first and only SAT. That’s not bad for a student who didn’t do any special preparation for the ACT other than to take it twice before earning a perfect 36 on the next attempt.

WHY DID SHE TAKE ACT A THIRD TIME?

“I wasn’t going to take it again, but it was the free one so I took it,” 18-year-old Allison said of the April 2018 free retake and the perfect score, about which she was notified the same month. Her first ACT was her sophomore year in 2016 and resulted in a 34.

Tennessee offers one free retake to all students before they graduate.

“I wanted to get a little higher, so I got a 35” when she retook it in January 2017.

The daughter of Theodore and Bethanie Glynn, Allison said her dad is co-owner of the Blue Ridge Properties Kingsport-based real estate firm and her mother a geologist working for the state in a hazardous waste division of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in Johnson City.

The D-B senior said although her sister’s major means she knows what’s coming and what’s involved in the field, she didn’t simply follow Kaitlin’s path.

“I didn’t choose it because of her. I found my interest lay in the same area,” Allison said.

And asked why she never let her ACT achievement be known publicly until recently, she responded that it “wasn’t a big deal,” although a perfect ACT generally means full or nearly full scholarships and acceptances from a wide variety of universities.

WHAT IS BIOMOLECULAR ENGINEERING?

“Whenever I say it, it sounds like I am just using the words,” she said. “What I want to do is work with proteins and how they are folded and how they work with DNA.”

That combination of genetic engineering and cell and tissue engineering is what she wants as a career, with plans to get a master’s degree and eventually a doctoral degree.

She has been accepted already by Clemson and UT and is considering North Carolina State and Washington State because of their strong engineering programs.

Glynn is a member of the Beta Club and participates in the Science Bowl. She also played soccer but couldn’t play this year because of a torn ACL.

WHAT DID SHE DO TO PREPARE FOR THE TEST?

“I didn’t prepare for it (the ACT) at all,” said Glynn, who had no tutoring but has a weighted grade point average of more than 4.0.

“I did really like chemistry. AP (Advanced Placement) Chem is a great class to take there (at D-B),” she said. “I also like calculus.”

She will find out soon if she is a National Merit finalist.

At the Jan. 8 Kingsport Board of Education meeting, President Carrie Upshaw recognized Glynn for the perfect ACT. On average, less than 0.1 percent of all students who take the ACT earn a perfect score. The test, required in Tennessee of all high schoolers to graduate, consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. The ACT is accepted by all major colleges in the United States as a measure of student readiness for the academic rigors of college, and it also measures career readiness and readiness for career technical degrees or certificates.

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