February 15, 2021

Mom's Legacy to Change Lives Continues with Gayle's Closet

By B&SC News Team

Mom's Legacy to Change Lives Continues with Gayle's Closet

Gayle Cheeks-Harrell was a stickler for professionalism.

As a career specialist who worked to help rehabilitate and prepare substance abuse patients to return to the workforce, she knew that how you looked on the outside was as important as what you knew on the inside.

When she passed away last May, her son Eric Harrell, Virginia state director of marketing and communications at Bryant & Stratton College, wanted her legacy to live on.

Today it does, through the Bryant & Stratton students who are wearing her closet full of fine professional threads to succeed in interviews, and life.

“She had a passion for fashion and a passion for helping people overcome their challenges and succeed,” Harrell said. “Helping others by using her clothes is a perfect fit.”

The items were split between the Hampton and Virginia Beach campuses in a program called Gayle’s Closet, a place where students can come and choose professional clothing to use for job interviews. Though all three Virginia campuses’ career services departments always had career closets, they were not always well stocked.

When Gayle’s clothes arrived, they not only filled a need, they invigorated the program. Her former co-workers at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, where she served as the substance abuse rehabilitation coordinator, raised

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