Q&A with DFC Dean Alvin Abraham

The Newsroom connected with Dougherty Family College (DFC) Dean Alvin Abraham on what's next for him, highlights of his time at St. Thomas and more.

What went into your decision to leave St. Thomas and DFC?

Please know that I did not come to this decision easily. My husband, Nick, and I recently came into parenthood through the adoption of our now two-year-old daughter, Willa, and our three-month-old son, Ozzie. Both of us being educators, this was something we have looked forward to our entire lives. These last few months have been tougher than normal, adjusting to a growing family in the wake of COVID-19 and the civil unrest resulting from George Floyd’s murder, all while working tirelessly alongside the DFC team to provide the best quality programming for students this fall. After much reflection and a realization that we cannot continue to care for our new family the way we desire without the support of a village around us, we knew we needed to make the leap to Houston where my parents, siblings and many cousins reside. Nick and I both grew up with family units beyond our parents and siblings and know that is what we need and want for ours. While this is a tough and untimely decision professionally, it is the right decision personally.

What’s next for you after you leave St. Thomas?

To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what’s next. I know I want to continue to be in a role that helps young people access a great education, but I’m unsure of where that will be. I’m interviewing for a few roles and believe the right thing will come to fruition soon.

What will you miss the most after you leave?

I’ll miss the people I’ve met the most. I’ve been fortunate to engage with some of the smartest, kindest, hardest working students, families and colleagues in my career. There’s something special about the people here – maybe it’s the insanely cold winters or the small-town feel of the Twin Cities – but I’ll miss the relationships I’ve built and plan to work hard to keep in touch while in Texas.

I’ll also really miss the weather. Yes – the weather. I moved to Minnesota in 2012 and immediately fell in love with the weather. I grew up in Houston, where there isn’t seasonal change. It’s either hot and humid, or incredibly hot and incredibly humid. It was wonderful to move to a place with distinct seasons and special cultural moments about each of them. Who doesn’t love being out on the lake with friends on a summer day? Or sitting by a bonfire with friends in the fall crisp air? Or building a snowperson after a fresh snowfall? These are things this Texas boy will miss and thoroughly enjoyed during my eight years in Minnesota.

What were some of the key lessons your learned as dean of DFC?

  • I learned the value of working with a team that deeply cares about the well-being of students more than anything else.
  • I learned how important having a leader like Dr. Sullivan is to the success of an innovative new program like DFC.
  • I learned that people are incredibly generous in the Twin Cities – with their time, talents and money.
  • I learned that when people who care so much about something come together and work really hard, great things can happen.
  • I learned that our future is bright, despite everything that’s going on in the world, because this next generation of young people entering adulthood are brilliant, hardworking, care deeply about what’s right and are willing to fight for it.

What are some of the highlights of your time here?

Whenever I’m down, I think back to the day that our inaugural class of DFC students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas at commencement. It was a beautiful thing and will be something I cherish and think back to often.

What excites you as you think about the future of DFC?

Two things excite me as I think about the future of DFC – the students and the team. We have the best team around, bar none. And the team has the great fortune of working alongside insanely talented Twin Cities students – all who come to us for a variety of reasons but leave prepared and on fire to take on the world.