To say that Grace Newell has a lot on her plate is an understatement. She’s a neuroscience major, Chancellor’s Scholar, a member of the TCU Swim & Dive team, and in the John V. Roach Honors College. Not to mention, she has already been accepted to three medical schools. As a senior from Louisville, Colorado, Newell has certainly made the most of her time here at TCU.
It was a hip dislocation and consequent surgery that sparked Newell’s inspiration to pursue becoming a doctor. After spending ten years of her life as a gymnast, Newell was always in-and-out of doctors’ offices due to various broken bones. She said, “My surgeon really understood my goals and was willing to try everything out before surgery. The relationship between me and that physician really sparked my interest in becoming a doctor and going to medical school.”
Coming to TCU, Newell knew that she wanted to be on the pre-health track, but she wasn’t sure what major to pursue before she eventually landed on neuroscience. She is fascinated by the brain and how much we, as humans, don’t know about it. She also notes that there is significant room for growth in understanding the brain, which she hopes to uncover as she pursues pediatric neurology. She wants to help children who have cognitive disabilities, seizures and more. The decision to pursue pediatric neurology was primarily motivated by her desire to work with children after spending much of her time working at a therapeutic horse-riding center in Colorado.
In addition to her neuroscience major, Newell is completing a minor in cultural awareness in healthcare. She says this decision to pursue cultural awareness is one of the best things she has decided to do at TCU. She is grateful to have learned about the prevention aspect of illness and treating patients as people, rather than just scientific subjects. In conjunction with neuroscience, she knows that cultural awareness in healthcare will prove beneficial to her career goals because it has given her skills to take with her to medical school and beyond.
As a part of the Honors College, Newell is also in the throes of completing her upper division research in the chemistry and biochemistry department with Professor Jean-Luc Montchamp. She is working on synthesizing a peptide nucleic acid from a propargyl bromide group, which can be vital in targeted gene therapy and cancer therapy. She says, “Peptide nucleic acids essentially mimic DNA and RNA sequences, so they are able to attach to DNA and RNA strands in the body. My peptide nucleic acid monomer is unique since the propargyl bromide group will leave an alkyne group on the molecule which will allow for functionable groups (like a fluorescent tag) to be added at any time during the synthesis.”
Additionally, Newell is passionate about helping communities both abroad and close to home. As a part of the Chancellor’s Leadership Program, she developed a “pen pal program” between? a school in Panama and local Fort Worth children who are learning to write in Spanish. She hopes to be able to eventually send school supplies to Panama. She has also ventured to the Dominican Republic, and volunteered with an organization that provides healthcare to medically underserved communities.
Newell is also a decorated diver on the dive team and competed in Austin at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Conference Championship in late February. She maintains a strict routine every day in order to make enough time for workouts, studying, lab research and class.
When she isn’t working abroad, studying, researching in the lab or diving, Newell spends her free time outdoors. Growing up in Colorado, she fell in love with hiking and camping. Additionally, she loves cooking as a stress break and makes a mean pad thai.