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Continuing a Legacy of Education

Cute piglet leans over the back of a chair
Rebecca Robbins, DVM Class of 2009

James Robbins and his daughter, Rebecca, are proud alumni of North Carolina State University. He graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1975, and she actually has three NC State degrees, including two from the College of Veterinary Medicine: a DVM, (2009) and a Ph.D. (2016) in population medicine and veterinary public health. 

Jim’s parents, Bryce and Eldora Robbins established the importance of education within the Robbins family. They were both public school teachers in Randolph County. Later they volunteered in the community, including helping children learn how to read. 

Education is in his DNA, Jim Robbins said.

His daughter adds “My grandparents were very proud of academic accomplishments. I was lucky to grow up in a family that understood the importance of academics.”

It was only natural that the Robbins have decided to continue this legacy by establishing a pair of scholarships at their alma mater.

Three months after Jim Robbins established a scholarship for undergraduate civil engineering students at the NC State College of Engineering, father and daughter created the Rebecca C. Robbins Scholarship Endowment in the pledged amount of $50,000 was for the CVM. 

First preference for the scholarship is given to students with a strong interest in research who are pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine with an emphasis in swine medicine. The research aspect is crucial, she said. “I spend from 30 to 50% of my time doing field research.”

Their NC State educations have paid great dividends. He has been the president and owner of a Durham-based construction company since 1987, and she is the senior production veterinarian for Seaboard Foods. Based in Guymon, Okla., Seaboard is the third largest pork producer and fourth largest pork processor in the United States, with farm operations in five states and a pork processing plant in Guymon. 

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” Jim Robbins said. “NC State played a large part in that. I wanted to do something to give back and to help up and coming students.” 

Rebecca Robbins credits her father with the idea of creating a scholarship at the CVM.

“He approached me,” she said. “He said it was something he would like to do. It was obviously a great fit for both of us, and I was very excited.”

Rebecca Robbins developed the criteria for the scholarship, citing a desire to support food animal medicine. She points out that in addition to the cost of a basic veterinary education, becoming a top candidate for food animal veterinary jobs entails extensive travel, both domestically and internationally, to gain valuable experience where food animal production is taking place. 

During her time at the CVM she visited Peru, the Netherlands and several other places, including the Seaboard facility where she currently works. “It was key to my development,” she said.

Rebecca Robbins spoke highly of her fellow NC State veterinary graduates, whom she calls some of the most influential swine veterinarians in the world. She said that while there is a need for more food animal veterinary students, she believes the quality of today’s students is unprecedented, thanks in part to financial aid offered and the excellence of the faculty at NC State. 

They both said they know they were fortunate to come from a supportive family that appreciates a good education. Rebecca Robbins said that by establishing these scholarships, they hope to give back by extending a helping hand to students who may not have had the advantage of such a positive background. She also points to the important role that food animal medicine plays in our society and the world in general.

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine