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Dr. Derwin Gray II '07 returned to campus Monday to talk to students about his service as a physician and how his experiences at Norfolk Academy started him on his career path. He offered three challenges to the Upper School students and ninth graders in Johnson Theater: Try many different courses, clubs, and activities while in school; push yourself and don't be afraid to fail; and take responsibility for your actions, because honor matters.

“Always great to come back here," Dr. Gray said. “I feel welcome here and it's always such a pleasure to see the small campus changes but really to see no measurable change in the spirit of the place."

Dr. Gray developed and made lasting friendships as a Bulldog; fellow classmates joined him Monday for his speech. He fondly remembers his time with Mrs. Diane Wallace in 4B, learning to love science in Middle School with Mrs. Susie Coker, and gaining emotional and physical toughness playing JV Basketball under Coach Chad Byler. In 10th grade, he went on a Spanish Exchange with Dr. Grayson Bryant, where he learned more about himself as a person.

“You are very, very fortunate," he said. “Your teachers know you well, they're rooting for you. It's something that is easy to take for granted, but that does not happen for most kids around the country."

From NA he advanced to Morehouse College, a Historically Black school in Georgia he chose over Ivy League opportunities. He explored as many opportunities as possible at Morehouse, presenting at nationwide conferences, meeting with medical experts, and working to prepare for a career as a doctor.

He next attended Eastern Virginia Medical School, then became a Resident Physician in New York City, where he was working at a busy hospital when the Covid pandemic broke out in early 2020. He was already a top-notch physician, but doing primarily teaching and other entry-level work required in residencies.

Overnight, he was thrust into caring on a constant basis for patients who were facing deadly health emergencies. He witnessed young patients pass away in front of him. He worked with women in the middle of giving birth, who knew essentially nothing about how the disease would affect both mother and child.  

“As a physician I see myself as a member of an integral healthcare team, someone who delivers a service to a community one patient at a time," he said.

Dr. Gray now works as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Virginia Center for Women in Chesapeake, where he is a senior partner, along with his father. Dr. Derwin Gray Sr.

He wove his career path into his lessons and calls for students.

Try new things: “Join clubs, research, make friends," he said. “Step out of your comfort zone. Seek those experiences, because you'll discover some pretty surprising things about yourself."

Push yourself: “You should be growing, you should be getting sharper. In seeking challenges you'll test your own limits and you'll find where you have room to grow. You'll fall short sometimes, you'll fail, but you'll be better for it."

Learn about yourself: “There are fewer more important things in your life than learning how to celebrate and embrace your individuality."

Value the honor and integrity emphasized at NA: “Take responsibility. Those strong ethical principles that are taught to you here really matter. Honor matters."

Dr. Derwin Gray II '07 speaks to Upper School and ninth grade students on February 26, 2024.

Dr. Derwin Gray II '07 speaks to Upper School and ninth grade students on February 26, 2024. Dr. Gray was working in New York City during the worst of the Covid pandemic and now works with his father, Dr. Derwin Gray Sr., at the Virginia Center for Women in Chesapeake.

Classmates joined Dr. Gray after his presentation.

Classmates joined Dr. Gray after his presentation.

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