Graduate Spotlight: Gabrielle Walters, Another Stand-Out Dual Enrollment Graduate on Her Way to Big Things

May 12, 2022

Gabrielle Walters is another of NOVA‘s outstanding dual enrollment students who has kept her eye on the prize.

Gabrielle and her close friend (they call each other Godsisters) Eryn Yarrell will both graduate from NOVA on May 15. After that, both will graduate from Hayfield High School in June. They’ve known each other since they were babies and came back together when their parents were both stationed in this area when the girls were in fifth grade. They have taken remarkably similar paths through high school and will both go to separate colleges this fall.

In fact, Gabrielle heard about NOVA‘s dual enrollment program from Eryn. She says she was attracted to this path due to the tremendous cost savings, cutting off two years from the traditional four-year college option and finishing her undergrad at just a fraction of the price.

“I am currently planning to be a psychology major on the premed track, and I wanted to reduce my years so I could quickly move into med school. I also found the idea interesting because I had recently been finding that my high school wasn’t providing enough of a challenge for me, so I wanted to experiment with new, harder classes,” she said.

“The financial benefit is unparalleled,” she continued. “At NOVA, I managed to take 64 credits for around $8,000; while at my four year, the annual in-state tuition would be about $15,000. I took what would have been $60,000 in a four-year college down to $38,000.”

She says NOVA’s Dual Enrollment Program also prepared her for college. “I learned how to study properly, how to email professors and how to find and access resources. These are all skills that will undeniably be helpful once I move to my next school.”

Gabrielle wants to major in psychology, on a premed track to a medical degree in psychiatry. She has committed for fall 2022 to University of Minnesota Twin Cities because of their outstanding psychology program and extensive study abroad opportunities. She will go on scholarship, which just makes things easier, financially. Not only will she bring her 64 credits from NOVA, but also credits from a Harvard course she took in the summer. She is still thinking about how to save and accelerate her pathway to med school.

“I am hoping that I can do summer classes at another community college near my four-year school so I can cut down on a bit more time. I am hoping this will open up my time later for internships and volunteer opportunities. Overall, I can’t wait to go!”

Well, Gabrielle is clearly a planner… and good at math.

She says that her NOVA degree will help her with the science knowledge needed to take the MCAT, the medical school entrance exam. “Psychology as a major doesn’t include many hard sciences, so I tried to complete some classes now so I would have the chance to take harder sciences later.”

“I’ve always had an interest in the mind and how it operated. I was particularly drawn to psychopathology through true crime,” she says of why she chose to pursue psychiatry. “From there, my interests spread out into all parts of psychology, such as DID (dissociative identity disorder) and stories about people such as Genie” (referring to Genie Wiley, a horribly abused child). Gabrielle says she became interested in psychology and eventually discovered psychiatry and decided that was the path for her.

After University of Minnesota, she is looking at medical schools in Minnesota and Texas. However, she is open to any school that fits her and her career dreams.

Of her NOVA classes, she identifies her philosophy class as having been particularly interesting. “I quite enjoyed my philosophy teacher, Matthew Brake. I didn’t think I would find the class that interesting, but some of the discussions in the class were thought-provoking and opened my eyes to other sides of arguments.”

She would advise incoming students to learn how to study. “Many classes require you to process a lot of information. Any student, but especially dual-enrolled students, should learn the best way to study for themselves. I found that I learn best when I type my notes, even if it’s similar to the book. By reading and noting down topics, I managed to absorb all the information.”

Gabrielle describes herself as a ‘military brat.’ Her family moved to Virginia from Montana when she was in fifth grade. She has a younger brother and she got a dog about a year ago. “He’s the cutest thing and my biggest supporter.” (That’s the dog, not the younger brother.)

She says growing up in Virginia has been amazing. “I love the diversity that I didn’t see in Montana. I’ve enjoyed all the diverse food options as well. I am a foodie, so I love being able to try foods from all over the world.”

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