Gabriel Thomas sitting at a table with her hands resting on it.
Gabriel Thomas will graduate next month with a bachelor’s in mass communications with a concentration in broadcast journalism. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

Class of 2022: Gabriel Thomas is a TV journalist who’s passionate about serving the community

‘It's not just her natural curious nature and inquisitive spirit … it's that she truly wants to make a difference in the world.’

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Gabriel Thomas had always loved communicating with others, but it wasn’t until she began taking journalism classes at Virginia Commonwealth University that she found inspiration for her future career.

“I always knew that I wanted to talk [professionally],” Thomas said. “I just didn’t know in what aspect I wanted to talk. But I started taking journalism classes and fell in love with it. Since then I’ve connected with so many people in the journalism industry.”

Thomas will graduate next month with a bachelor’s in mass communications with a concentration in broadcast journalism from the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences. In July, she will begin working as a reporter for WTKR News 3, a CBS affiliate serving Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina.

During her time at VCU, Thomas was a news intern with WTVR CBS 6 in Richmond and the E.W. Scripps Co., and also interned at the General Assembly in the office of Del. Delores McQuinn. Thomas also has contributed a number of opinion articles to The Commonwealth Times, and she is a member of the VCU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

She considers herself a “pandemic journalist,” as COVID-19 emerged during her second semester and led to her learning the trade at a time when journalists had to figure out new ways to report the news and navigate challenging circumstances.

“We had to learn how to tell stories when the world is in shambles,” she said. “During the pandemic, I saw how many people in our communities were scared to speak up or they weren’t given an opportunity to voice their opinions. I feel like journalists can play a huge part in giving voice to the voiceless, and I want to be that missing puzzle piece.”

Beyond journalism, Thomas’ VCU experience was defined by service and giving back to the community.

A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Thomas and her fellow members have contributed to a variety of community service projects, including volunteering at Feed More, creating more than 400 hygiene kits for the homeless, and a weekly cleanup of Cherry Street in Richmond.

In high school, Thomas founded a program called The Prom Fairy DMV that provided high school girls with prom dresses. As a student a VCU, she worked with Richmond Public Schools to provide a similar service at Armstrong High School, taking nearly 100 dresses to the school for fittings.

At VCU, Thomas also was a RAM CAMP leader, serving as a co-facilitator for a weeklong leadership camp for incoming students and serving as a mentor for first-year students.

Following graduation, Thomas is planning to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from VCU in addition to her job as a TV reporter.

She also hopes to teach journalism at the college level one day. She discovered an interest in instructional design while taking classes with Brianne L. Jackson, Ph.D., assistant director of professional development and an instructor of education with VCU Online and the VCU School of Education.

“I never knew that I would be interested in creating curriculums and lesson plans,” Thomas said. “But now that I have that knowledge, I'm working on getting my certifications for instructional design as well as my master’s degree.”

Jackson was not just an inspiring professor, but was always available to share advice, provide tips on applying to grad school and even giving the occasional pep talk, Thomas said.

Jackson said Thomas is an impressive student who is going to make an impact on the world.

“It's not just her natural curious nature and inquisitive spirit that make her amazing, it's that she truly wants to make a difference in the world,” Jackson said. “And you know what? With her spirit, intelligence and dedication, I have no doubt that she will.”