When it comes to providing exemplary healthcare for the women of Hampton Roads, for Dr. Derwin Gray II, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
In fact, according to Dr. Gray, the opportunity to work with and be mentored by his father, Dr. Derwin Gray Sr., brought him home. Dr. Gray II, Norfolk Academy Class of 2007, received his Bachelor of Science degree from Morehouse College, earned his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School, and completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU in New York.
The final three months of his residency at NYU were dominated by the first three months of the Covid-19 pandemic. He felt tremendous relief leaving behind the hectic healthcare landscape of New York City during the pandemic and joining his father’s practice at Virginia Center for Women. According to Dr. Gray, many young surgeons say that the toughest part of starting a medical career is securing a reliable, experienced mentor. He never feels alone knowing that he can call on his father for help or consult him in managing difficult cases.
Not only has Dr. Gray benefited from the wonderful guidance of his father, but also from the mentorship he experienced during his 12 years as a student at Norfolk Academy. He remembers how classes taught by Patty Klewans and Susie Coker first introduced him to the scientific method. Rigorous Upper School courses in physics and chemistry also gave him the foundation to succeed at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Varsity basketball Coach Eric Acra taught him a lot about mental toughness, and many of those lessons still help him persevere through some of the more difficult days caring for patients. He also recalls powerful life lessons he learned on the Spanish exchange in 2006. He met lifelong friends and discovered an appreciation for how people of different cultures can share similar values.
Since his return to Hampton Roads, Dr. Gray has continued the tradition of caring mentorship at Norfolk Academy. He serves on the Alumni Board and as a mentor for Bulldogs who want to pursue careers in medicine. He advises current students to take advantage of the wide variety of opportunities available at Norfolk Academy and to spend as much time with each other as their time permits.
Dr. Gray observed, “Norfolk Academy students grow to become world leaders and seeing my classmates succeed has been very inspiring.” He encourages recent graduates to continue to cultivate their Bulldog network and stay in touch. The tree of family, community, and school that sustained Dr. Gray and helped him grow has helped him to start a fruitful career in Hampton Roads, and the NA community is grateful that he has returned to nurture the seeds of curiosity for young Bulldogs.
Written by Charlotte Zito ’99, an Upper School English teacher and faculty advisor to the Tunstall Student Council. This article appeared in the Summer 2023 edition of Academy Magazine.