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NSU alumna has

successful career

with U.S. Public

Health Service

Growing up in a small, rural community in South

Dakota, Dr. Rochelle Nolte had big dreams. She also

had an unparalleled sense of compassion and drive,

and the desire to make a difference, which is what

attracted her to Northern State University.




oday, Nolte is at the pinnacle of a

highly successful career as a board

certified physician. She attributes

that life transformation to NSU

and the top-notch professors who

wouldn’t settle for anything less than her full


“My experiences with the Public Health

Service have been beyond anything I ever

could have dreamed up for myself. I never

could have imagined such a great career,” she

said. “I have Northern to thank for that.”

Nolte attended NSU from 1988 to 1992. She

was active in 4-H, Cadet Club, and ROTC.

She was named the ROTC Cadet of the Year

for two consecutive years and was awarded

the Army Reserve Component Achievement

Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Her experiences with ROTC and NSU helped

her find her calling in the medical field, and

before graduation she knew she wanted to

work for the U.S. Public Health Service.

She graduated summa cum laude

with a bachelor’s degree in biology and

environmental science. Hoping to work as a

physician on the front lines of America’s public

health, she applied and was accepted to the

esteemed military medical school Uniformed

Services University of the Health Sciences


Nolte admits that at first she was intimidated

since many of her classmates had graduated

from the most prestigious institutions in

the nation. But, she said, Northern State

University gave her every opportunity to be


Northern professors – including Dr. Lynn

Hodgson, Dr. Sam Gingrich, and many others –

provided advice, encouragement and personal

attention that increased

her confidence level and

challenged her to do her

best in whatever she was


She also remembers

being required to take

classes in a wide variety

of disciplines and said at

that time, she didn’t realize how they would

relate to her future. She now credits her

well-rounded education to the appreciation

and passion she has for many subjects,

including world history and circuit training,

which allowed her to use her sports medicine

knowledge to treat patients, as well as join

them in the gym.

Nolte officially became a doctor in 1996,

completing her post-graduate medical

training at Dewitt Army Hospital and Johns

Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Based on

her superior residency performance, Nolte

was hand-selected as the outstanding family

medicine resident and chief resident. Then,

she completed a respected fellowship in sport

medicine at USUHS, which fueled her passion

for the field.

While working to continue her education

she also worked as a member of the

disaster medical assistance team, a group of

professional medical personnel that provide

rapid-response medical care or casualty

decontamination during a terrorist attack,

natural disaster or other national emergencies.

Her missions included serving as an

emergency responder in two hurricanes, the

World Trade Center attacks, the Brentwood

Post Office attacks involving airborne anthrax,

the Pentagon, the Salt Lake City Olympics,

presidential inaugurations and events, and the

Kosovar Refugee Crisis. Nolte’s distinguished

service was recognized by the United States

military with the PHS Commendation Medal,

Special Assignment Award, Presidential Unit

Citation, National Defense Service Medal,

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal,

Crisis Response Service Award, and the Army

Achievement Medal.

Nolte’s experience also includes serving

with the U.S. Coast Guard in various roles.

While there, she was named the PHS Clinical

Physician of the Year. Now at the Bureau of

Prisons in San Diego, Calif., she plays a critical

role in caring for patients with complex

medical and psychiatric problems. She

continues to practice Sports Medicine, taking

care of Recruits at Marine Corps Recruit

Depot in San Diego for a couple of mornings

each month.

Today, Nolte has authored 16 publications,

has spoken at over 30 conferences and

workshops, and is a member of numerous

medical associations. In her spare time, she

volunteers as the team physician for the DC

Divas Women’s Football Team and enjoys

spending time with her family.

Nolte is married with two daughters and

is looking forward to bringing them back to

South Dakota for their first Gypsy Day.

--By Kelli Krause

Northern State University alumna Dr. Rochelle Nolte

checks the vitals of a newborn following an emergency

delivery on a ship.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)