Graduate Gabriel Breakstone: From FCB ambassador to Search and Rescue volunteer

Gabriel Breakstone regularly volunteers with the Coconino Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit with a full day classes, homework and hours spent at his job in the W. A. Franke College of Business. 

Breakstone, a senior graduating this weekend with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, has always felt a call to serve his community. He started volunteering with the with law enforcement when he was a freshman at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale and was involved with the local Jewish community in the valley. Breakstone also enjoyed traveling the world with his family, which prompted his interest in becoming an airline pilot. 

“For the longest time, I always wondered and dreamed about law, law enforcement and flying,” Breakstone said.  

Breakstone chose to attend Northern Arizona University because he wanted to stay in state and attend a university that was part of a small, college –town.  

Upon his arrival to NAU, he attended freshman orientation at the W. A. Franke College of Business, where he met Bernadine Lewis, program director in the college. 

“I was immediately struck by his professionalism and maturity as an incoming freshman,” she said “Gabriel was so impressive that I invited him to become an FCB Ambassador. He is the second student to be hired in their freshman year.”  

Breakstone accepted the position as a FCB ambassador and has worked in the college in various positions throughout his college career.  

“I had the opportunity to be able to engage with the high-level professionals and donors that work with the FCB, it was a truly unique and frankly unheard-of experience for a university student,” Breakstone said.  

During Breakstone’s freshman year at NAU, he met Sheriff Jim Driscoll, who introduced him to the idea of volunteering with the Coconino Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit. Breakstone  applied after their conversation and soon  joined the academy, where he trained to become a qualified and effective member of the search and rescue team. After his graduation from the academy, Breakstone joined the team and regularly volunteers his time and energy after long days of attending classes at NAU.  

“I have had the honor of working with people from 18 to 80 years of age. Our unit is made up of people from all backgrounds, retired and active, students, doctors, pilots and more,” Breakstone said. “My time with the search and rescue unit allowed me to partake in something larger than myself. When I assisted on a mission, we were often able to make someone’s day just a little bit better, and that comes on a day which might be one of the worst days of that person’s life.”  

As Breakstone’s time at NAU soon comes to a close, he prepares for his next adventure in public service. He plans to move back to Scottsdale after graduation to pursue two paths that will define his future: joining the Phoenix Police Academy to become a sworn reserve police officer and attending flight school to further his aspirations of becoming a commercial airline pilot.  

“When I was younger, people around me would joke that I was 15 going on 50. I was also precocious in this way, but I needed a place to further refine that maturity. NAU gave me that place, allowing me to further develop my passion for business and hospitality as well as to learn and grow both personally and professionally.” 

Breakstone credits his personal development at NAU, allowing him to grow into the young professional that he is today, to the interpersonal relationships he had with his professors, staff and peers. 

“NAU prepared me for my future by allowing me to work, live, laugh and explore life in ways that gave me confidence, conviction and perseverance that I can do anything I set my mind to moving forward,” he said. “Without NAU, I would not be who I am today.”  

NAU Communications