• 54°

LOOKS BRIGHT: 7th grader sets out to be a cardiologist following dad’s sickness

When East St. John Preparatory Academy seventh grader Norelle Frank’s father fell sick with cardiovascular disease two years ago, it changed the course of her life.

Inspired to help others who have experienced heart attacks, Norelle aspires to become a cardiologist. She’s dedicated time to learning about the heart and human body and has researched colleges known for medical programs.

With a strong work ethic that extends to academics, sports and art, she’s accustomed to aiming for the stars.

Talented art teacher Nancy Giordano looks over the artwork of Norelle Frank.

Norelle’s parents, Nelson Frank and Leslie Brown of LaPlace, support her ambition.

“My family inspires me, mostly my dad,” Norelle said.

“When my dad was sick, it felt like I had to push myself harder because when I get older, I want to help people in the same situation he was. I want to accomplish my goals; be the best cardiologist there is; be the best in my class.”

Norelle hopes to study medical science at Princeton University in New Jersey or Louisiana State University.

Last year, she advanced to the regional level of the science fair and was chosen to present her project on heart health to a team of approximately 200 members of a training and safety group in Lafayette.

She practiced her presentation skills again this year, advancing to regional competition in the social studies fair after placing first in anthropology at the district level.

Norelle Frank and Priscilla Galliano take time for a picture at East St. John Preparatory Academy.

Her drive to succeed sets a good example for others in class, according to Priscilla Galliano, Norelle’s former math and science teacher.

“Norelle is an excellent student,” Galliano said. “She always strives for the best and wants to give it 110 percent, even if it’s hard. She’ll go above and beyond what you ask and make sure she completes it the right way.”

Galliano has been a positive influence in Norelle’s life for the past two years, having comforted her when her father was ill.

“When I had her in fifth grade, she was very distraught over her father being sick, and she was one that I took in as my own and made sure she was taken care of emotionally,” Galliano said.

Norelle said she always goes to Galliano when she has concerns or needs to talk, even if it’s something as minor as a homework assignment from another class.

For as long as she can remember, Norelle has been a top student on honor roll and principal’s list. She’s also active in Beta Club and serves as vice president of the explorers club, which promotes scientific discovery.

After school, Norelle can be found on the volleyball court. Previously a track runner and a dancer, she strives to balance her free time to experience new extracurricular organizations and sports.

In the fall, she conducted a campaign that ended in her being elected 2017 homecoming princess.

Eighth grader Jai Gaines said Norelle is always striving for greatness and capable of finding success in nearly everything she does.

“Norelle is very selfless,” Jai said. “She helps everyone before herself, and she always makes sure her friends and her classmates are staying on the right track.”

The recently rebranded East St. John Preparatory Academy has shifted focus to serve fifth through eighth graders, creating a myriad of new classes and activities to help Norelle achieve her goals.

“With the school’s name change and the babies going to the other school, it was a greater opportunity for the older kids to do bigger and better things,” Norelle said, adding she’s now able to participate in advanced classes and STEM activities.

“I want to leave this school being proud of where I came from,” she said.

Though Norelle’s favorite subjects are math and science, she’s cultivated another love: art.

This is her first year in the talented art program and she’s participated in drawing contests throughout the Parish.

In the World Peace Competition, Norelle presented artwork at the state capital after placing second amongst students from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

Norelle enjoys using markers to create realistic drawings of people, and she always carries a stack of colorful art pieces in her school bag.