Law school grad proves it’s never too late to switch lanes
By Nadia Felder
As fearful as it may seem, there have been plenty of people who have switched career lanes after years of gaining work experience in one industry — and yet still found success., Dedra Sibley, a Florida A&M University College of Law 2006 graduate is one such individual.
With four degrees from four different institutions, Sibley is no stranger to change. With a deep childhood desire to one day become an attorney, she began her journey with a simple associate’s degree from Brevard Community College. From there, she transferred to the University of Central Florida receiving her bachelor’s in finance and eventually an MBA from Webster University.
“I got pregnant after my first year in college, then married young.…Life happened,” Sibley said. “I resolved myself to giving up on my dream of becoming an attorney, but I pursued my education in order to provide a better life for my family.”
A good corporate government job would do just that. For almost ten years, she served as a principal project analyst at Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, Fla., one of the leading companies to produce technological military systems and product solutions worldwide. There, she established herself as one of the lead analysts and was even recognized as the ‘Most Valuable Team Member’ in 2001.
With or without recognition, the thought of law school still lingered. So in 2002, when a law school opened in Orlando, Sibley stopped dreaming and applied.
“After many years of taking a different path, I finally had the opportunity to realize my lifelong dream to become an attorney when FAMU College of Law opened,” she said.
She quickly became an unordinary law student, considering most choose law school after undergrad — she already had degrees, a good career and a happy family. Yet in 2006, she walked across the stage with a juris doctor degree and a dream that finally became a reality.
For seven years, Sibley worked hard as an attorney and eventually built her own private practice (Sibley Law P.A. in Rockledge, FL.). Daringly, a new dream emerged…and it was time for Sibley to help others reach their “unbelievable” goals just as she did.
“I have worked for several different contractors over the years but I am much more passionate about helping youth (and people in general) reach their goals and expand their quality of life through higher education,” she said.
Today, Sibley stands proud as the Provost on the campus of Eastern Florida State College in Brevard County. In recognition of her outstanding contributions at the college and in the community, she was recently awarded the 2017 Professional Excellence in Government Industry Award as part of the FAMU College of Law Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Her story proves that success and self-doubt do not mix. That’s why dedication and passion are at the top of her list for tips for success.
“If you don’t have the fulfillment in your position, keep modifying your role or job until you can find the right balance that works for you,” said Sibley. “Have passion and believe in whatever you are doing.”