Growing up in Fayetteville, Sabriya Dobbins always wanted to go to NC State and become a veterinarian.
She made it to CALS as a Jefferson Scholar and a Caldwell Fellow. And she realized that her calling was different, and more diverse, than expected.
Now she’s an alumna of the Department of Animal Science and a rising star in the Triangle real estate scene. Where she ended up is very different – and better – than she imagined.
What was your experience like at CALS?
Getting accepted was very emotional – I cried when I got the letter. I was proud to represent my family.
My first year, though, I was so scared, because I figured the other kids were from private schools with tutors and things like that, and I didn’t have any of that. I was really intimidated.
I was one of the only minorities in animal science. I remember in my intro classes, a lot of times there were 130 students and maybe three of them were black students. To some people that was nothing because they were used to it, but in Fayetteville, those weren’t the demographics I was used to. Sometimes I thought, should I even be in animal science? I didn’t have a background in farming.
What was your academic journey at CALS?
I had an internship every summer, so I worked at an emergency vet clinic – which made me decide against vet school, that I didn’t want to do that as my full career.
Around that time, I started becoming aware of movements like Black Lives Matter, which made me think about how I could get involved in making the world a better place. A lot was going on in the country at the time, and as a minority, I decided that a social work major could be very impactful. I realized that I want to be an advocate not just for black women, but for any group that needs a voice.
What was it like having such different majors?
It was definitely a journey – I’d go from a class where we were figuring out to address social issues, over to organic chemistry where we were figuring out how many carbons are in a compound. It was exciting because I got to use all parts of my brain. I would urge any student to pursue two majors in two very different fields – that choice changed my life.
With such a diverse academic background, how did you make your career choice?
Employability is something I thought about a lot while I was making these choices in my time at State. My dad has his real estate license, and I worked on mine while I was at CALS. I went to class every weekday, then real estate classes from 9 to 5 every weekend for six weeks. I only had one day off per week. In October 2016, I passed my real estate license test, and I graduated from CALS a year later.
I worked with disabled adults and children for a while after graduation. My animal science degree also allowed me to apply to a lot of pharmaceuticals jobs, but I kept being drawn back to real estate. I started as a sales assistant, then was promoted to community sales manager of a community in Hillsborough. I sold 14 homes in the first four months – it was very stressful but rewarding.
Do you use your CALS degree in your real estate career?
Every day. What I do in real estate is critical thinking, problem-solving, good communication that I learned from all those animal science presentations. When I’m doing a complete market analysis, I’m working with research and using a ton of data, seeing how competitive we are. A lot of that comes from CALS. It’s a very transferrable degree.
Animal Science gave me research experience and a strong foundation of scientific knowledge. I can do any type of science I’m interested in the future. I take a bit of everything I’ve learned and put it into everything I do.
What is your advice to current students?
I’m a huge study abroad advocate. I studied abroad in India, the Dominican Republic, the Czech Republic and Austria. I have lots of Indian clients now, so I’m able to talk to them about traveling in India. It changes the whole dynamic of a conversation if you’re familiar with someone’s home country. Just to even show appreciation for someone else’s culture means a lot to them.
It sounds like you like to stay busy. What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on my MBA at North Carolina A&T University. And I’m happy at my current job. When I plan too far out, I stress. I do better when I do my best where I am and then take life as it comes. I am looking into higher ed in the future as my passions continue to even and become more specific.