Pennell named recipient of Stephanie Lynn Gabriel Scholarship

Catawba Valley Community College student Sarah “Brea” Pennell has been named the recipient of the Stephanie Lynn Gabriel Scholarship through CVCC Foundation, Inc.



Pennell is currently enrolled in the paramedic program at CVCC, and she also works full time for the Caldwell County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and volunteers for the Gamewell Fire Department.

“My career goals are to become a paramedic and later to become a flight medic,” Pennell said. “At some point, I would also like to earn the firefighter certifications. I truly enjoy working with EMS and going to school to get my paramedic degree.”

Upon graduating from high school, Pennell was undecided about her career aspirations, but soon found a passion for EMS after riding along with a family friend who works for Caldwell EMS.

“I am so glad that I chose to do it,” she said of her first EMS experience. “I rode third person with him and his partner a few times over the course of a week or so. I truly enjoyed it. The experience was like nothing I have ever done.”

Since that first-hand opportunity, Pennell has found her life’s calling, and now she’s taking the courses at CVCC necessary to fulfill her passion.

“I love every part of my job — the good days, the bad days,” Pennell said. “I enjoy helping people in any way I can — no matter how big or how small the task.”

The Stephanie Lynn Gabriel Memorial Scholarship was established as a memorial by Gabriel’s parents — Johnette and David Orr.

Gabriel, who was a 1996 graduate of the Emergency Medical Science program, performed her duties as a paramedic in an outstanding manner until her untimely death as a result of an automobile accident on June 15, 2010 at the age of 43.

“The EMT program at CVCC played a pivotal role in her life,” said Gabriel's parents, Johnette and David Orr, in a statement. “When she graduated in 1996 at the age of 29, she had finally found her calling. We hoped the scholarship would carry forth her legacy by assisting others to complete their EMT training.”

Mr. and Mrs. Orr hope to provide individuals with financial assistance in their pursuit of a career that Stephanie truly loved, and in which she took great pleasure and pride, and they are delighted to select Pennell as this year’s recipient. 

“When we met Brea we were gratified to see what a stellar young woman she is,” Johnette and David Orr said in their statement. “We feel certain that she will continue on the path of the prior recipients. All of them have been very deserving and dedicated to their training. We feel blessed to be able to continue supporting the scholarship in the future.”

Pictured, from left, are Johnette Orr; Stephanie Lynn Gabriel Scholarship recipient Sarah “Brea” Pennell; and David Orr. 

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