University of Texas at Austin


Embracing Change - Profile Gabrielle Costello

By Rebecca Riley

Published July 8, 2024

Gabrielle Costello

Gabrielle Costello's journey from high school English teacher to research administrator at the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences is a remarkable testament to her adaptability, passion for learning, and commitment to making a positive impact in different spheres of education.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Gabrielle moved south to attend Tulane University, where she earned a BA in English and Sociology. After graduation, she began a career as a high school English teacher in a small town near New Orleans, embracing her role with enthusiasm. Gabrielle fondly recalls her time in New Orleans, where she fully immersed herself in the local culture and community. "There's a lot to do there. There's a lot of culture, and there's a lot of really delicious food," she said with a smile.

"During Mardis Gras, the city basically shuts down," Gabrielle explained. "If you're not into it, you should probably leave town!" Living in New Orleans made for some great memories and the kind of vibrant parades only the Crescent City can offer.

Her decision to move to Austin was driven by both personal and professional reasons. "I ended up in Texas because my brother and sister-in-law live in Houston," Gabrielle explains. "And my now fiancé, who works in software, was looking at different locations based on his job opportunities." Austin's dynamic tech scene and outdoor lifestyle resonated with Gabrielle and her fiancé. "We bought a kayak and enjoy exploring the local lakes. Our dog, Clifton, loves the parks as much as we do."

Clifton, an 80-pound bundle of energy adopted through Austin Pets Alive, has become a beloved part of Gabrielle's family. "He's a giant baby," she chuckles. "He thinks he's a lap dog!"

Reflecting on her transition from teaching to research administration, Gabrielle said, “I really loved teaching, but I knew that I didn’t necessarily want to be in the classroom forever. One of the things that I loved most about teaching was the people and being able to help them. I like that I am still in education and still making a difference in a different way.”

She expressed gratitude for the supportive environment at the Oden Institute. "It was kind of scary in the beginning," she confesses. "Coming from a teaching background, everything felt new and different. But everyone here has been really sweet and helpful. I’m happy that I was able to make that transition."

Upon joining the Oden Institute, Gabrielle was greeted by a familiar face. Her path crossed once again with Kelly Tagle's, a former colleague from their teaching days at the same Austin high school. "Kelly taught Spanish while I taught English," Gabrielle recalls. "It's a small world—we both ended up at the Oden Institute."

In addition to her professional growth, Gabrielle is also enjoying personal milestones. She recently got engaged and is planning a wedding for next spring. "There are so many choices,” she said. “My parents have been married for - it’s going to be 34 years this spring, and my mom was saying how when she got married, you chose the venue and whether to have chicken or red meat, and that’s it. Now, there are so many choices. Which is nice, but it’s also a lot to do. I just picked up my dress last week!”

Gabrielle also has a myriad of hobbies keeping her busy. 

"I grew up playing soccer," she shares. When she moved to Austin, she joined a coed team with the Austin Sports and Social Club. "It was fun, but definitely a different vibe," she said, joking that it was more of a "beer league.”  Eventually, she found her niche in the Austin Women's Soccer League, where she's been playing for several years. "All the people on the team are super awesome," Gabrielle notes, highlighting the camaraderie across different age groups and backgrounds.

An avid reader, Gabrielle is involved in a virtual book club with friends from high school spread across the country. "It’s been really nice to keep up with them," she said, appreciating the bonds maintained despite geographical distances.

Approaching her one-year anniversary at the Oden Institute this August, Gabrielle reflects on how much she has grown in her role. Whether she's navigating the intricacies of research administration or planning her wedding, she approaches each challenge with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

Gabrielle Costello's story is one of reinvention, demonstrating that with determination and an open heart, it's possible to thrive in new and unexpected ways.