Alumni Spotlight: Dawud Ingram C’08, Realtor at Signature Realty

Dawud Ingram graduated Drew University in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology and Pan African Studies. He is a passionate individual and a people person. With 8 years in the mental health industry, 5 years in tech, and 5 years in real estate, he turned his excitement for helping others into a career he is truly proud of.

Dawud is an expert at networking, relationship building, marketing and events. Good is never good enough and there is always more to do, more to learn to strive towards excellence.

When not working Dawud is a loving uncle and Godfather and loves to cook and talk to you about all things “geek culture”. He also is a board member for organizations that help youth rise to their full potential and also volunteers with LGBTQ+ youth, being a mentor.

BENEFITS OF DREW

Dawud’s high school guidance counselor raved about Drew and with the encouragement of his mom, he applied.  He said, “When I came to campus for my interview, through the Equal Opportunities Scholar (EOS) program, Drew felt home. I remember standing at the back of Mead Hall looking out at the field and I thought this is where I belong.”

He came to Drew thinking he would major in Political Science, because from the time he was a young child he had always wanted to be a lawyer, but after he took a few Political Science classes he realized it wasn’t the right major for him.  In 2004 Drew introduced Pan African Studies as a major and Dawud was the first student to sign up for it under Dr. Lillie Edwards.  He also had Intro to Sociology with Dr. Kesha Moore and it just clicked.  He said, “I thought, THIS is what I am passionate about learning.  This is where I can see myself excelling. I thought sociology would make me a more interesting candidate for law school.”

As a first-generation student Dawud spent a lot of time working but also participated in many club activities including Kuumba, the Pan-African student organization. During his sophomore year he was in charge of marketing, then became co-chair, then Senior advisor. He said, “It was all about learning about the diaspora and educating everyone on celebrating everything involved in that.  Between that and living in UMOJA House, the Pan African theme house on campus, I was heavily involved in Pan-African issues.  We did great things to spread the word and the joy of being Pan-African. One of the highlights was getting the poet Nikki Giovanni to speak and do a book signing at Drew.” He was also on ECAB for two years, the organization that managed the budget for all student organizations on campus, senator of Student Government, one of the founding members of the Pan African Choir, and a member of Ariel, Muslim Student Association, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, and worked in the Equal Opportunities Scholars (EOS) office directly with Twannah Ellington, Assistant Director, since his freshman year. He was also a peer counselor for the EOS summer program for three years.  Dawud said about his experience as an EOS student, peer counselor, and employee, “It was my way of giving back to an organization that made it possible for me to go to college. EOS is a family.  Years later I am still talking to EOS members and we discuss the joys and the amazing things that are happening in our lives. It really opened my eyes to how interconnected we can all be even though we come from different backgrounds and places.  It was an extra layer of support that I wish everyone had access to. College can be difficult at times and to have a group supporting you, took a load off my shoulders.  Without Twannah Ellington and EOS Director Cordelza Haynes, I wouldn’t have been able to make it as far as I did.  It was through these co-curriculum experiences that I learned the power of networking and the power of community building and how we can do so much as we come together as a student body or as an organization.  I really think this was the foundation of some of the things I did post Drew.”

Dawud’s mentors include Dr. Moore, Dr. Rosenbloom, Dr. Lilly Edwards and Dr. Obiri Addo who Dawud said was amazing! He said, “I had an opportunity to go on a Drew trip with Dr. Addo to Ghana.  This was between my sophomore and junior year.  We travelled 3 weeks, to eight out the ten regions in Ghana and visited some neighboring countries. My research was a cross-cultural study on where I examined the difference between the idea of masculinity in West Africans compared to the idea of masculinity in the African-American community. The interviews I conducted with these men in Africa was an eye-opening experience. This helped me prepare for my future work in social work.

In Dawud’s senior year he was also part of the Drew Honduras Project with Dr. Sandra Jamieson. He said, “She was a great professor who helped me refine my writing.  She helped him figure out the “so what”, why the reader should care. Then to see her in Honduras with these organizations was an amazing experience! It made me realize that there was so much more that we can be doing to help each other globally. We were at an orphanage at a farm talking to boys between 12 and 16 and they had nothing and they were some of the happiest kids I’ve ever met and were willing to share what they had with us. They were so grateful for what we were doing. We painted all of their dormitories and just a simple paint job meant so much.  We should be giving back more to help everyone.  Everything I do has the overarching theme of giving back to those who can’t help themselves.  When you get to a point of success you forget how you had to struggle to get there.  My mother worked hard to make sure that my sisters and I had everything that we needed and she instilled in us the idea that if we work hard enough we can get to the point where we don’t have to struggle. Don’t ever forget where you came from, because it’s the challenges that you went through growing up that puts you on the path to success.  Always lend a hand to someone else because that was you at some point.

Some of Dawud’s favorite memories of Drew include all night study sessions, especially the one before graduation including the Midnight breakfast. He said, “We were seeing the finish line, and getting there, surrounded by my friends, felt like I won the gold medal.  Also, founding the Pan African choir with Mark Miller, was a favorite memory.  It was all about inclusion. If you wanted to be part of the choir regardless of your singing ability, you were part of the choir.  The message was one of love, acceptance, and openness. I remember our first performance was in the church next to campus and we had so many students, faculty, and staff come out and it was a wonderful experience.”

SOCIAL WORK

After graduating Drew, I applied for Teach for America but I didn’t get in. They told me that I would be better suited for social work.  I applied to over 100 jobs and I got two offers, one was in NY working for the Harlem Children’s Zone and the other job, the one I picked, was a NJ organization called Family Intervention Services. I always loved working with children and at the time I still thought I wanted to be a lawyer so I thought I’d take the job and work for a couple of years and then apply to law school.   I worked for Family Intervention Services as a Case Manager. I had a Clinician partner and was assigned to children under the care of Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).  Our goal was reunification. My supervisor at the time said, that I was a natural clinician.  I ended up being a substance abuse counselor for teenage boys in a residential facility in Newark, NJ. I was in the field of mental health for 8 years and I loved it.  It was so rewarding and fulfilling but you get to a point where you can’t go on.  Burn out is real and you have to take care of yourself and know when to bow out. If you get to that point and continue to give of yourself, you can do more harm than good.  I still volunteer and I’m on boards, but in 2014, I started my career in real estate.

CAREER IN REAL ESTATE

I’ve been a real estate agent for 5 years and I’m passionate about it. I first worked with a small Boutique real estate firm in Hoboken, then I moved on to Coldwell Banker where I worked for three years but I missed the individual boutique touch. I did research and I found this amazing organization Signature Realty NJ in Summit.  Not only do they care about their clients, but they are all about education. You are never too old to stop learning.  I’m always training and learning how to be a better real estate agent. I love working with first-time home buyers.  I’m currently working on a workshop series on-line that is geared to first-time home owners. I discuss financial literacy, how to pick the perfect team from lawyer, real estate agent, to an inspector, etc. I want to make sure that people know what they need to know.  I want people to know that buying a home is doable.  There are so many tax breaks and benefits from owning your own home.

Everyone needs a place to live, and a home is important to building wealth. I am still true to my social work/mental health background. I’m working with another Drew Alumni, Sergio Peredes, who was one of my closest friends at Drew. We are partnering together to create a development company called All Realty Development, because we both grew up in the Oranges. Our goal is buy and flip houses, but also build projects. We want to build a program where we are doing rent to own properties for low to moderate income individuals.  The money that you need to buy a house is too much for those making $30, $40, to $50,000 a year.  We want to help people who are living in poverty areas in Newark or the Oranges.  We can buy abandoned properties, develop them, put people in them, to give them the opportunity to be home owners.  I’m super excited about it! Financial literacy is the first step.  This is something that most people are not taught.

What do you think is the key to your success as a realtor?

I don’t take no for an answer.  I learned this from Sociology. There is never a wrong answer, there’s just a different way of looking at it.  I’ve used this approach in everything I’ve done.  I helped teens succeed through my social work and I use some of that same understanding of mental health to help my clients.  In real estate, I am your agent, and therapist, with a focus on getting the deal done.  I am going to be your champion. My clients know I will do everything on my end to get them that home and I’ll work to change that no to a yes.

CLIENT SUCCESS SPECIALIST FOR INDEED

What do you do as a Client Success Specialist for Indeed?

I love real estate but real estate can be volatile so I got a second job working as an account executive helping sell advertising space at Yelp, but I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me so now I am in charge of client success at Indeed.  I work with the employers and help them find the perfect candidate for the job.  I do everything from editing a job description to understanding the current market and how they are performing in it.  I love helping people so in helping employers, I’m helping people get jobs every day.

What advice would you give students who are interested in a career in real estate?

I wish I had done this career earlier.  Just learn about the business.  Most people think it’s just door opening but there is so much more to it.  Get involved early.  You’re an independent contractor, so find the companies that are a good fit for you to grow so you lcan be the best agent you can be.

What advice would you give students who are interested in Social work?

There are so many avenues to mental health.  The sky’s the limit.  Follow your passion but know your limits.  Acknowledge them. You can’t do everything all the time.

What advice would you give students who are first-generation?

Do everything.  I saw college as a buffet and I took every class. Explore your passions.  Use this time to find yourself.  You have to take the time to explore everything that is out there.  You have to try things before you realize what you like.  Be open to new experiences.

Are there other dreams you want to fulfill?

My next venture is a catering company.  I want to be a Food truck owner.   I will do progressive American food with a Caribbean twist.  There are multiple ways of garnering revenue streams.  Between working in tech, working in real estate, and becoming a developer, and one day running a food truck, I’d like to also own laundromats and convenience stories and this will help me build my empire.  Some people call me a modern day Renaissance man.

Any fun facts you would like to share?

I am an avid gamer. I also love to read (I read 16 books this month.)  I love fantasy, sci fi and murder mysteries.  I also enjoy self-help books. One of my favorite books is  The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It’s about giving in to new opportunities and it’s a great reminder to open yourself up to new possibilities.

Lastly, I love being an uncle and godfather.

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