“I initially wanted to be a lawyer,” said Million Tsegay, a summer ’22 graduate of Robinson’s M.S. in Commercial Real Estate (MCRE) program. Tsegay completed the first phase of her plan by earning a degree in paralegal studies with a minor in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati in 2010.
The rest of her journey unfolded as she pursued a career as a paralegal, working bankruptcy cases, then shifting to criminal litigation. As she accumulated experience in that arena, she discovered her passion: the world of real estate.
Tsegay wasn’t new to the field. She was born in east Africa, where her parents and extended family developed large apartment and industrial properties.
“I watched real estate projects grow from the ground up,” Tsegay said. “Combining my background in law and real estate made sense.”
Tsegay worked as a real estate paralegal in Charlotte, North Carolina, and eventually joined RaceTrac’s real estate department in Atlanta.
She quickly closed on a high number of successful transactions. Discontent with playing such a small role, Tsegay broadened her knowledge by discussing property purchase and disposal deals with the engineering, construction, and acquisition teams.
Her proactiveness and fluency in real estate terminology impressed her colleagues, including RaceTrac’s director of real estate, Leslie Batchelor, who also served as a guest speaker for Robinson’s MCRE program. Batchelor recognized Tsegay’s ambition and suggested she pursue the degree.
Even with several years of experience in real estate, Tsegay uncovered new insights about the finance and entrepreneurial sides of the industry—especially in Lynn McKee’s CRE Financing course. McKee also is senior vice president at Truist and shares real-world knowledge with his students.
“We started every class by discussing what was happening in the real estate and finance markets and how Truist was making acquisition and loan decisions,” Tsegay said. “At my new job, when we need answers, I have them.”
In the spring before graduation, Tsegay accepted a real estate paralegal position at Drapac Capital Partners.
“At Robinson, I gained hands-on knowledge that I use every day,” Tsegay said. “I’m really happy.”