Gabriel's can-do spirit keeps Physics and Astronomy rocketing forward

· 5 min read

Gabriel’s can-do spirit keeps Physics and Astronomy rocketing forward

Nebraska's Kelcey Gabriel stands near a river with her arms in the air as a waterfall cascades down in the background.
Nebraska's Kelcey Gabriel remains a positive force on campus and in the Department of Physics and Astronomy's main office.

Editor’s Note — This is part of a Women’s History Month series featuring women who make a positive impact on the campus community through their work as office/service employees. The Women of Service series is organized by the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Stories will run in Nebraska Today through March 30.

When the University of Nebraska–Lincoln rebooted in April 2021, pivoting after a year of pandemic-related remote instruction and work, Kelcey Gabriel was among the first cadre of employees to return to campus.

And for more than 100 days, Gabriel, an office associate, was the only employee in the Department of Physics and Astronomy main office on the second floor of Jorgensen Hall. During that time, she took on extra duties to help support instructors and students.

“Kelcey practically ran the front office by herself,” said Dodie Eveleth, business manager for the Biology, Physics and Astronomy, and Chemistry Business Center (of which Gabriel is a part). “And, she did it all without complaining, tapping into her can-do attitude to help carry the department along.”

While she admits it was difficult to be alone, Gabriel remained positive. As it didn’t disturb co-workers, she played music to fill the silence. And, she remained focused on the knowledge that her work was helping others (and the university) to keep moving forward in a difficult time.

“I was there to help in any way possible and I made sure I provided the best support I could,” Gabriel said. “But, I was so happy when the doors were finally unlocked and students started coming back. It wasn’t as much as before COVID and I was behind a plexiglass panel, but the one-on-one interactions made the day so much easier.”

For her leadership, Gabriel was nominated by Eveleth to be a part of this Women of Service series.

“Kelcey exemplifies the true essence of the type of person that UNL wants to have working for them,” Eveleth said.

The Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women reached out to get to know Kelcey and learn more about her dedication to students, faculty and staff at Nebraska U. Her interview follows.

Tell us more about yourself.

I was born and raised here in Lincoln. I love calling Lincoln my hometown. I have two dogs — Pepper, a border collie, and Parsley, a pit bull mix — who are extremely active and love.

I enjoy everything Disney, from the movies to the parks to the Disney inspired games. I’m all for it! And, my favorite go-to movie is “Beauty and the Beast,” both animated and live action.

I love to travel and have been to Scotland and Ireland — but I would love to go to Switzerland for my next travel destination. And finally, I’m a big sports fan, especially volleyball and football — Go Big Red!

Kelcey Gabriel and her border collie, Pepper.
Kelcey Gabriel and her border collie, Pepper.

What do you look forward to when you come to work?

I look forward to every interaction I have with faculty, students and my co-workers. I love being able to help others with any and all problems they may have.

What is your favorite memory at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln?

My favorite memories are going to Nebraska volleyball games with my dad. We’ve been to several games together going back to when they played in the Coliseum. We always analyze the game ourselves and discuss plays and calls made by the referees. Going to those games inspired my own love for the sport and that led to my dad coaching me until I went to play at Southwestern College (in Winfield, Kansas). Being able to be a part of an amazing atmosphere and enjoying it with him are memories that I’ll treasure forever.

What is your life like outside of work?

My boyfriend and I enjoy going around Lincoln and exploring all the new restaurants that have been popping up. We are big foodies and love to experience food from different cultures. I also enjoy playing volleyball during the week to help manage any stress I may have.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Any time a new food competition show comes out I must watch it. My boyfriend and I could spend hours bingeing those shows and commentating on all of them and acting like an extra set of judges. I am not a good cook, but we take our food shows very seriously.

My favorite food show would be anything by Gordon Ramsey. But, if I had to pick one, it would be “Hell’s Kitchen.”

I am also terrified of heights. And, I can’t get enough of theme parks and roller coasters, the faster the better. My favorite ride is the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster Front Seat POV 4K Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure
Video: Incredible Hulk roller coaster (includes flashing lights, fast twists and turns, and the occasional scream from a rider)

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