Col. Noel Christian Pace, a second-year law student, is one of a select few who was confirmed by the United States Senate as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
“This promotion allows me to better help soldiers and their families serve honorably,” he said.
University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala will host a ceremony Monday to recognize Pace’s promotion. Before enrolling in law school, Pace worked in health care management while working on his military career.
On behalf of the Army Reserve, Pace is helping implement the military initiative Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2), a resilience program that provides training and self-development tools.
Before beginning law school, he served as the full-time director of CSF2 at U.S. Army Forces Command Headquarters in North Carolina.
“It teaches critical thinking skills and helps soldiers make better decisions,” he said.
In 2003, he used his healthcare management expertise in the field at Iraq and served as a de facto minister of health in the At’Tamin province. He worked with Iraqi health officials to revitalize the region’s health supplies.
“I was the only one who had a master’s in healthcare administration, so I was asked to get this healthcare system back and running,” Pace said.
When he returned from Iraq, he shared his experiences with the U.S. Army Trauma Training Center (ATTC) at UM/Jackson’s Ryder Trauma Center, which trains all Army forward surgical teams before being deployed.
Pace finds that a legal background is most conducive to improving a health care system.
“A healthcare system is based on laws, policies and procedures,” he said. “A medical background is not oriented on doing that.”
At the law school, Pace interns with the Health Rights Clinic, a medical-legal partnership operated in tandem with the Miller School. Pace is able to put his classroom knowledge to use by representing nine clients.
He provides legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged veterans under the supervision of attorneys and faculty.
“They need help,” he said. “Instead of reading things in books, I’m out there, learning how to practice law.”
Pace said that the toughest part of representing a client is “dealing with the bureaucracy” and much of the work involves listening to people.
“Many people have multiple factors that are affecting them,” he said. “Every person and situation is different. You have to spend a lot of time listening.”
Pace is also a member of the “National Security and Armed Conflict Law Review,” the Society of Bar and Gavel and the Health Law Association.
“Noel has thoughtfully integrated all of the pieces of his professional past to create a coherent legal career path for himself,” said professor Mary Coombs, faculty adviser for the Health Law Association, in an article published by the School of Law. “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.”
Pace graduated from the Army ROTC program at Tulane University and later earned master’s degrees in health administration and business administration from Baylor University and the University of Denver, respectively.
He is also dual board-certified in healthcare management and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and certified-fellow of the American Academy of Medical Administrators.