By Lori Padilla
CONNELLSVILLE — Gabrielle Kolencik, a 2017 graduate of Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School, is in her third year at Duquesne University but way ahead of schedule to reach her goal of becoming a lawyer specializing in elder law.
As a student at Geibel Catholic, she participated in the dual-enrollment program, which enabled her to earn college credits during high school.
Upon graduation, Kolencik entered Duquesne University with 33 credits.
She is now a senior English major and in her first year of law school.
“I had fabulous teachers at Geibel who were always willing to help,” Kolencik said.
She took their example of helping others into the workforce as a volunteer at a nursing home, which inspired her career choice.
“While volunteering, I visited one patient who at first was sleeping. When she woke up, she was in a lot of pain. I ran around the nursing home trying to find her help, and no one would accept the responsibility. The treatment of this patient upset me, and I decided then that this didn’t need to happen to anyone else,” she said.
The teachers at Geibel Catholic meant a great deal to Kolencik, but one stood out.
“Dr. (Justin) Stevenson really took the time to work with me and to listen to my ideas outside the classroom, expanding on what was discussed during class,” she said.
Stevenson is a Duquesne alumnus, which weighed heavily on her decision to attend the Catholic university in Pittsburgh.
“Gabby is an outstanding and gifted student; intelligent, motivated and conscientious. More importantly, her virtues as a person are even more impressive. She exemplifies the values of Geibel Catholic, academically, personally and spiritually,” Stevenson said.
Patricia Nickler said Kolencik was one of the first people to welcome her to Geibel Catholic when she became principal in 2016.
“She was always on the go here, whether it was student government, sports or some type of club, all while maintaining her grades and a job,” Nickler said. “Her dedication to her education is amazing, so I am not surprised at her success.”
Kolencik is a parishioner of St. Therese Parish, Little Flower of Jesus Parish, Uniontown.
“Prayers and morals have taught me to share love, hope and kindness with others. I believe that to have the significant qualities of a leader, you must be a servant. Jesus was the ultimate server,” she said. I am willing to serve others in law to give the quality of life all are deserving of and to ensure the virtues of love, hope and kindness are always present.”