Working with the locals to rebuild the Iraqi Health System, May 2003 (Photo: Miami Law)
2L Noel Christian Pace is anything but an ordinary law student. The six-foot three paratrooper and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve came to Miami Law after a successful career in both military and civilian healthcare management.
On November 11th, Veteran's Day, University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala, will host a ceremony in recognition of Pace's promotion to Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Each year, while hundreds of Lieutenant Colonels are considered for promotion, only a select number are promoted and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
As a Distinguished Military Graduate of Tulane University's Army ROTC program, Pace earned his Master's Degree in Health Administration from Baylor University and his Master's in Business Administration from the University of Denver. He completed his healthcare administrative residency at Evans Army Community Hospital, where his graduate management project on orthopedic surgery practice optimization was used by the U.S. Army Surgeon General in testimony to the U.S. Senate regarding sound business practices.
Dual board-certified in healthcare management and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Certified-Fellow of the American Academy of Medical Administrators, and Fellow of the American College of Contingency Planners, Pace commanded the 560th Medical Company in the Republic of Korea, participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and deployed to Colombia for Operation Willing Spirit in 2008.
While in Iraq, Pace coordinated medical, surgical, and air-evacuation support for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and served as the de facto minister of health for the At'Tamin province, helping rebuild the Iraqi health system. Following his return from Iraq, Pace was tasked with leveraging his experience from the war in operationalizing the U.S. Army Trauma Training Center (ATTC) at UM/Jackson's Ryder Trauma Center, which trains all Army forward surgical teams before they deploy overseas.
In this capacity, Pace first discovered the synergistic relationship between the University of Miami and the U.S. Army. There he learned of the planned medical-legal partnership among the Miller School of Medicine, the School of Law, and the Veteran's Administration, which is now Miami Law's Health Rights Clinic.
After almost two years at the ATTC, he was recruited by a large group of surgeons, including some UM alumni, to serve as the Executive Director of the South Florida Surgery Center in South Miami. Simultaneously, as a now citizen-soldier, he continued his work in the U.S. Army Reserve as a member of Special Operations Command South at Homestead Air Reserve Base, which is the special operations component of U.S. Southern Command headquartered in Doral.
Eager to build upon his military experience and his career in healthcare management, Pace arrived at Miami Law in 2012. After a successful first year of law school, where he was selected as a J.W. Johnson/R.H. Waters Fellow, made the Dean's List, and was elected as President of the Health Law Association, Pace was selected by a board of senior Army officers to attend the prestigious U.S. Army War College, in order to earn his Master's in Strategic Studies in conjunction with his J.D. degree. In addition, after clerking for 11th Judicial Circuit Civil Division Judge and Federal Bench nominee Darrin P. Gayles, Pace spent time in Washington, D.C. working with the Army's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program where he is a member of the Army Staff.
As a second year student, Pace is a member of the Health Rights Clinic, the National Security & Armed Conflict Law Review, and The Society of Bar & Gavel. He is also studying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what can be done to improve it with distinguished tax law Professor Frances R. Hill.
"Noel has thoughtfully integrated all of the pieces of his professional past to create a coherent legal career path for himself. As the President of the Health Law Association, Noel has the experience, ability and drive to maximize the value of the organization to the student members and the school itself," said Professor Mary Coombs, Faculty Advisor for the Health Law Association.
Through his involvement in the Health Rights Clinic, Pace is able to leverage his expertise in governmental healthcare policy, adding a unique perspective to the clinic. Professor JoNel Newman, the Clinic's director, explained, "Noel's experience, and his dedication to his clients, has been invaluable in his outstanding clinic work."
When asked about his experience at Miami Law thus far, Pace said, "UM Law and thePost-911 G.I. Bill scholarship are affording me the opportunity to combine my past healthcare leadership experiences with outstanding legal training, in order to better help healthcare organizations, professionals, and patients. Given the seismic shift in health law created by the ACA, I feel grateful for the chance to attend a law school with a strong health law program, and many invaluable opportunities to connect with professionals in Miami's second largest industry, the provision of health care."