A dive into life outside teaching

Featured Image: Dr. Dobrin holding a photo of him being recognized for his work with the VB police department.
Benjamin Dobrin | Courtesy

Professor Benjamin Dobrin spends spare time volunteering as a Search and Rescue professional.

Outside of the classroom, VWU Professor Benjamin Dobrin lives a fun and exciting life. In his free time, he is a volunteer for the police department, EMS and public safety and dive team for the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. In addition, he teaches scuba diving classes and hosts training for those who are interested in being a public safety diver.

Dobrin, a staff member for almost 30 years, is a huge asset to the VWU community. Dobrin is the dean of the D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies as well as a professor and chair of the Social Work department.

Prior to his career at VWU, Dobrin traveled up and down the East Coast to obtain his degrees. For his undergrad, he attended the College of William and Mary in the Sociology/Psychology field. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania to obtain his Masters in Social Work, and ended at the University of South Florida College where he received his Doctorate in Public Health. 

Dobrin began as a volunteer EMS in 2003, and following that, he joined their water rescue team, which started his work as a EMS Search and Rescue Team diver. In 2008, Dobrin joined the Chesapeake Police Department’s academy and became a volunteer police officer tasked with taking calls and doing ride-alongs. This is how he became a part of the dive team.

“I was already a public safety diver, and the captain informed me that they’ve never had a volunteer police officer on the team before, so he told me to go to diving school for three weeks and hoped for the best. I then became diver number 13, on a 12-person diving team,” Dobrin said.

The Virginia Beach Police Department then sent him to Florida for diving training. As people started to retire, Dobrin went back to Florida to become an Instructor Trainer; he is now the only Instructor Trainer in the area. Dobrin works both as a recreational and a public safety scuba diving instructor.

Dr. Dobrin, dean of the D. Henry Watts School of Professional Studies, in dive gear. Benjamin Dobrin | Courtesy

Dobrin has dived in many different bodies of water; from lakes to the Atlantic Ocean to the ocean in the Caribbean and even in an aquarium with whale sharks. 

Dobrin’s job as a recovery diver has put him in stressful situations. One procedure involves a diver locating bodies and tying buoys to them.

“I was shaking. I knew I was going to find the body. I found a body, I wasn’t scared of a dead body, but the adrenaline dump was enough that I couldn’t tie a knot underwater with gloves on,” Dobrin said. Due to this incident, the procedure was changed to a two-man team to better deal with the stress. He has a very close-knit team, where they are able to talk through these things and process them together, so by the time he goes home he doesn’t need to do any of it on his own. 

“Being a part of a team is super important, especially when dealing with stressful situations like these,” Dobrin said.

Since Dobrin loves diving so much, he even started a class teaching students on campus all about diving. 

“It’s a great hobby,” Dobrin said. Although he is not teaching it anymore, it was his favorite class to teach.

Dobrin loves teaching at Wesleyan because his roots are here. He heavily encourages students to make college worth it and have no regrets. 

Dobrin gave this advice to the incoming freshmen.

“Get out of your rooms; go do something. It doesn’t matter what you do, but if you are in your room other than the 8 hours a night you should be sleeping, you’re wasting time. If you’re watching TV, you’re wasting time. There is so much to do in college, especially here in Virginia Beach,” Dobrin said. “Join a club or volunteer for EMS, there are so many opportunities. If you know you’re good at something, chances are you have it, and if you don’t, make it happen.”

Dobrin made the most of his time in college while playing sports, participating in a fraternity and staying on top of school work; he has no regrets. 

“Treat college like a job, because it’s the easiest job you will ever have,” Dobrin said.

By Madison Dzwonkowski