WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Salem Academy and College is moving full steam ahead with its new focus and new leader.

It hasn’t been a full year since Dr. Summer McGee was named Salem’s 22nd president, yet her vision for its future is already gaining momentum.

“We have the largest number of applications for the class of 2026 that we have ever had in Salem’s history,” she said.

It’s in no small part because of McGee’s ability to focus on what she does best.

“Throughout my career, I have always done program startups or transformations, and so this was the next logical step for me having built a health sciences school from the ground up,” she said.

She was the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven. Now she’s putting the building blocks in place for a health leadership focus at Salem.

“We’ve added new majors. We’re in the process of revising our core curriculum so that every student will learn about things like health disparities and the importance of health equity,” she said. “They’ll learn about the social determinants of health and also build skills like teamwork, resiliency and how to deal with a rapidly changing world, which we all know, having lived through a global pandemic, we’re in these days.”

Salem Academy also plays a key role in a shift toward investing in an education that will develop the next generation of women leaders in health.

Salem Academy is the nation’s only STEAM-focused all-girls boarding and day high school on a college campus.

As far as leadership goes, McGee is a standout in her own right. She’s one of the youngest college presidents in the country at just 40 years old.

“What I hope my presidency will inspire people to think about is that strong leaders, transformational leaders, can be found regardless of age,” she said.

As Salem celebrates its 250th anniversary, McGee hopes her legacy at Salem includes being part of a successful transformation.

“That we were able to grow our student body, transform the college and really have it become a national success story about how a liberal arts college that has struggled with enrollment and that has had challenging times can really innovate and re-imagine itself,” she said.

President McGee and others will push the new direction for Salem during its RISE weekend.

Salem is investing in a national marketing strategy and more athletic programs to grow enrollment by 50 percent within the next three years.