Noble family shares holiday traditions, favorite picks from Vanderbilt Holiday Gift Guide

Left to right: Jordan, Rosevelt III, Kristen and Rosevelt Noble decorate holiday cookies in their residence at Stambaugh House. (Vanderbilt University)
Left to right: Jordan, Rosevelt III, Kristen and Rosevelt Noble decorate holiday cookies and enjoy cocoa in their residence at Stambaugh House. (Vanderbilt University)

Rosevelt and Kristen Noble have long ties to Vanderbilt University. Rosevelt is a former student-athlete on the Vanderbilt football team and a Double ’Dore, having earned his bachelor’s degree in 1998 and his Ph.D. in 2003.

Kristen earned her bachelor’s from Vanderbilt in 2003. They met on campus when Rosevelt, then a graduate student, coached the competitive flag football team on which Kristen played as an undergraduate. After conducting research for two years post-graduation in her native Cleveland, Kristen returned to Nashville for medical school in 2005, and the couple started dating shortly thereafter.

Rosevelt’s professional career has taken him into the classroom as a senior lecturer in sociology as well as to student-facing roles as a Vanderbilt Visions faculty VUceptor, Posse Scholar Program mentor, faculty head of Stambaugh House on The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons and six years as director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center. In September, he was named associate dean of students for equity, diversity and inclusion. “Working with all students to help them reach their fullest potential is among the most rewarding aspects of my job,” he said.

Kristen is an assistant professor of pediatrics and physician-scientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Taking care of premature and sick babies became my passion when I was a resident in general pediatrics,” she said. “The process of making new discoveries is critical in this field to improve outcomes for babies, especially babies of color who generally have worse outcomes.”

The Nobles are raising their children—daughter, Jordan, and son, Rosevelt III—on campus at Stambaugh House. The entire family is featured in this year’s online Vanderbilt Holiday Gift Guide.

This year’s guide includes clothing items, kids’ gear, holiday-themed gifts and more. When you shop the Vanderbilt Holiday Gift Guide, you help reduce barriers to a Vanderbilt education. Proceeds from the sale of licensed merchandise go toward Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s financial aid program that meets 100 percent of every undergraduate student’s demonstrated financial need without loans.

Below, Rosevelt Noble reflects on some of his favorite parts of the holiday season.

What are some favorite holiday traditions you celebrate as a family?

My family has several holiday traditions. Two of my favorites are our Elf on the Shelf, who we named Charly, and celebrating Kwanzaa. Charly magically appears every year from Dec. 1 through Christmas. Every day she leaves a riddle for the kids to solve to find their hidden treat. Some of my favorite memories are watching the kids work together and go running through the apartment to find the prize once they’ve solved the riddle.

My second favorite holiday tradition is celebrating Kwanzaa, which starts on Dec. 26. We take time each day to celebrate and engage in activities highlighting each of the seven principles: umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith). Celebrating Kwanzaa is an enduring tradition passed down over several generations in my family.

Have you had a memorable winter or holiday experience during your time at the university?

My most memorable winter experience at Vanderbilt happened in a few years ago when we got several inches of snow. I’m from the Chicago area, and my wife is from Cleveland. Thus, we both grew up with a plethora of snow memories! The snow in Nashville that year provided our kids an opportunity to experience a part of our childhood. Our family and the Castilho family (Celso Castilho serves as faculty head of Memorial House) spent hours outside building snowmen and sledding down hills on campus.

When I started as the director of the Black Cultural Center, one of the new programs that I added was an annual Christmas tree decorating event. We bake cookies for the students and make hot apple cider. There’s Christmas music playing while the students all collectively decorate the tree. Our students really look forward to this annual tradition. Last year I had a student send me two photos. One was of him and a group of seven or eight of his friends from their first year at Vanderbilt in front of the BCC Christmas tree, and the second was a similar photo of him with several of the same friends from their senior year in front of the BCC tree.

What’s your advice for balancing holiday traditions with a busy schedule?

Unplug and enjoy the time with your family and friends. Take the official university holidays, but also use your PTO to get a much-needed and likely well-deserved reprieve before the start of the spring semester. This means no emails, work projects or check-ins. I, myself, try to follow this advice!

What are your favorite items from the Vanderbilt Holiday Gift Guide? Is there anything on your shopping list?

I selected the gray quarter-zip for the photo shoot. I chose this particular item because it most fits the style of clothing that I typically wear. It’s versatile in that I can wear a T-shirt underneath for a more casual look, or I can wear a collared shirt underneath for a more formal look.

I would want to receive the gray long-sleeve Vanderbilt T-shirt. I love how it has the new logo, yet overall has a retro look. I would gift the Vanderbilt pom beanie skull cap. As a hairless male, I love a good skull cap during the winter!

Shop the 2023 Vanderbilt Holiday Gift Guide online now through Dec. 31.