By Julie Ann Madden
When she moved to Akron two years ago, it was her family’s 30th move since returning to the United States from her birthplace, Kareeduow, South Africa, when she was four years old.
In high school alone, Robyn Peinke has attended seven schools: three each her freshman and sophomore years. But since Sept. 1 of her junior year, she has been an Akron-Westfield Lady Westerner.
Her education began in a Pre-Kindergarten program in South Africa and this Sunday, she’ll walk across the stage as valedictorian of A-W’s Class of 2013.
“I’ve been through a lot of schools,” said Robyn. “I’ve tried really hard and I’ve really worked harder than a lot of other kids have.”
“I didn’t really expect valedictorian per se,” she said. “I just know that I worked hard enough to deserve it even if I hadn’t gotten it.”
“My family inspired me to excel academically,” said Robyn. “It’s really indescribable the feelings because my parents want you to do good — they want you to have a better life because we’ve been through a couple of rough patches.”
“I know they want better for us,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see them having to be drug down to such a level. You want to be better. You want to help them out as much as they’ve helped you along the way.”
Robyn is the daughter of Elizabeth and Hein Peinke of Akron and she has six siblings: Beverley, Hein, Robert, Natasha, Nadia and Jordan.
Topping her list of A-W memories is meeting people.
“I was very, very shy the first year I came here,” said Robyn. “I really didn’t know anybody and I never really took the time to know anybody because I figured I might not be here that long — ‘even if I am, it really doesn’t matter to me anyway.’”
“But this year and toward the end of last year, I kind of regret not trying a little harder with people,” she said. “It’s always been difficult for me to open up to people because I moved around so often.”
At A-W, her favorite classes were Precalculus and Chemistry II. Robyn participated in track, Large Group Speech and Lakeside Lab.
In fact, she turned down dinner with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to participate in this spring’s Lakeside Lab weekend.
“I really didn’t want to go to the Governor’s thing,” said Robyn, “because I feel I’d learn more at Lakeside Lab than listening to our governor speak for a little bit, then get an award from him.”
“Lakeside Lab’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I like Lakeside Lab a lot because you step out of your element and you stop being in your comfort zone. You get to try a bunch of new things that, honestly, a lot of people will never experience in their life so it’s a totally new experience.”
“A lot of people don’t think it would be fun — mainly because it’s all outdoors,” said Robyn. “It’s worth going.”
“I don’t really do things to be in the limelight,” she said. “I like doing things that are going to benefit me in the long run. I’d rather I’d enjoy it, then go do something else — no matter how important it is.”
“In your senior year, you kind of get to meet yourself along the way,” said Robyn. “You kind of decide who you want to be and the person you want to be. You just start to learn a lot of traits about yourself that you’ve never paid attention to before.”
“You just begin to learn a lot of things that kind of prepare you for life,” she said.
This fall, Robyn will be studying at Western Iowa Tech Community College, where she has earned a full collegiate ride. After graduating from WIT, she plans to double major in archaeology and chemistry at the University of Evansville in Indiana. She may also minor in art or a foreign language.
“I will be a forensic archaeologist,” said Robyn. “Basically, I’ll help police catch bad guys — identify murder weapons. It’s similar to a forensic anthropologist but I won’t work with dead bodies or people alive and well.”
Robyn enjoys running, reading, writing, drawing and listening to all kinds of music.
To underclassmen, she said, “Stop trying so hard to be someone you’re not. There are always people in your life. The ones who are meant to be there will be there for you.”
Her Grade Point Average is 4.0.