By Tiffany Whitfield

Dr. Noelle Gabriel is an alumna of Old Dominion University, having majored in biology with minors in chemistry and communications. She is a pediatric physician with the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (CHKD) as part of Tidewater Children's Associates. She also practices in the emergency department at CHKD.

"As a frontline worker during SARS-Cov2, it has had a tremendous impact on my clinical practice," Gabriel said. "First, there was the fact that this was a completely new virus, so there was a need to quickly understand transmission, treatment options and preventative measures."

Scientists globally have worked to better sequence and understand COVID-19.

"Science is not perfect - it is a process," she added. "As we have seen based on the actions of how our society has approached the SARS-Cov2 virus, it is an evolving learning process."

Gabriel was poised to take on the demanding roles, especially during COVID-19, due to her education and research opportunities at ODU.

"I've had to deal with securing PPE, giving guidance on school openings, deciding on when to test, and keeping up to date on what happens after a child has been infected with the virus," she said. "The well-rounded experience I was afforded at ODU gave me a solid footing for both academic rigor and real-life problem solving."

Gabriel is a Norfolk native and comes from a family of Monarchs. "I preferred to stay local, and I was impressed with the Honors College," she said.

During her time at ODU, she was an active student.

"Everything from my leadership role in the Pre-Health Club to traveling with the ODU debate and forensics team afforded me unique opportunities to both serve and learn," she said. "We had a diverse group of classmates both culturally and non-traditional."

Upon graduation, she was a recipient of the Kaufman Award.

Ralph Stevens and the late Nancy Wade were two very influential faculty members in Gabriel's academic career.

"While always nurturing and supportive, they held me to high expectations, especially in the academic setting," she said. "They were foundational to me developing good study skills."

After graduating from ODU, Gabriel attended Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS).

"I was accepted into the pediatric residency program through EVMS and CHKD," she said. "I am currently a board-certified pediatrician practicing both in primary care and in emergency medicine."

As a graduate of Norfolk Public Schools, Gabriel has remained true to serving her community. She serves on the Norfolk City School Board, regional board member for the Governor's School for the Arts, and ODU College of Sciences Advisory Board. Serving as chair and vice-chair of the Norfolk School Board has allowed Gabriel to use her biology degree to work to improve school nutrition, physical education and mental health needs for students.

Gabriel has been received many awards as well, including the CHKD Resident Teaching Award and the CHKD Resident Research Award. Moreover, she was listed by Inside Business in its Top 40 Under 40 and was honored as one of the YWCA Women of Distinction. She also received the Distinguished Norfolk Public Schools Alumni Award.

Gabriel shares some advice to current and future Monarchs.

"ODU will provide you with the necessary classes and skills to prepare you for your career," she said. "However, you must take ownership of your educational journey and customize classes, extracurriculars and other opportunities to best fit your interests. Be an active participant in your education, not a passive recipient. Build relationships with your professors and form strong study groups with diverse classmates.

"Remember, college is an investment in your future, and you should make the most of it. I would also encourage students pursuing a degree in biology to also take time to learn about the arts and humanities. There is a lot of science mixed in with literature, theater and history. I find more often that the art of medicine is just as important as the scientific practice."

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