It’s 2 a.m. in the basement of Mugar Memorial Library. The security guard is doing his final rounds for the night when he comes across a girl buried in her books alone in a windowless study room. No, this is not a horror movie intro. Rather it is how Gabrielle Pilla spends her weekends just before her spring midterms. As a neurobiology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Gabrielle is vigorously working to make her equally-as-successful parents proud in the field of medicine.
Gabs, as her friends refer to her, has wanted to work in medicine since before she can remember. With a professor of heart failure research as a father and a health care compliance lawyer as a mother, hard work in a challenging profession is nothing new in the Pilla family.
Growing up in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, with her family’s four German Shepherds, Gabs’s childhood dream job was to be veterinarian, helping animals that were close to her heart. However, at the age of eleven, her life drastically changed and a medical challenge of her own shifted her desire to a new field of study as a young adult.
When Gabs was eleven years old, she suffered a stroke. Six years later, she suffered an additional one. Following these, Gabs suffered from multiple seizures at the age of seventeen, placing her in the hospital for the majority of her senior year of high school. This challenging time in her life was influential in her desire to study the human brain, ultimately leading to her decision to major in neurobiology.
As if overcoming these physically complicated times was not enough, during her periods of recovery junior year, Gabs co-authored two papers on medical research of the heart that were then published by the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in Melbourne, Australia where Gabs traveled to discuss them with leaders in the medical field.
As most close to her know, Gabs’ motivation to excel in medicine is no joke. This past summer she took her career further while working at the University of Pennsylvania in the Perelman School of Medicine Gorman Cardiovascular Research Lab in the Harrison Department of Surgical Research, as a student research assistant. There, Gabs was responsible for tasks such as collecting and analyzing MRI images and tissue histology, assisting with surgical procedures in operating rooms (including operations such as heart/lung bypasses), and managing and analyzing cardiac function data. Gabs also attended seminars on cardiovascular research, and her summer of hands-on experience only further proved to her that medicine was her passion.
At Boston University today, Gabs is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority and a Dean’s Host for The College of Arts and Sciences, where she and other hosts spend their spring semester Fridays speaking to admitted students about CAS.
If you could not tell from her accomplishments above, Gabs is not only an active student at Boston University, chasing her dreams to succeed in today’s medical world, but she still finds time to have fun in Boston, making time for trips to Newbury and finding places for a good Sunday brunch with friends.
Gabrielle Pilla pushes through her hectic schedule running on pure motivation from her heart, unlike most tired college students, who depend on coffee to get through the week. If only we could all have that self-empowerment!