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Subrina Dhammi: A Strong and Grateful Heart

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The soundtrack to Subrina Dhammi’s life would include Indian dance music, news reels, her daughter’s laughter, the hum of airplanes as she travels across the world and loving words from her husband.

This News13 anchor feels incredibly lucky to live her dream and chase her passion from dawn to dusk and every moment in between. The first generation in her family to be born and raised in America, she grew up bilingual, speaking both English and Hindi. Subrina is also a professional Indian classical dancer and put on a three-hour solo performance to graduate from her dance school. She was crowned Miss India New York in 2003 and she was second runner-up for Miss India USA in 2004.

Grounded Beginnings
Clearly there are many layers to the lovely Subrina, who so many viewers wake up to each morning. She still gets a bit nervous, although she has been doing this for over 12 years. Her story is truly unique and inspiring. “My parents are both from tiny villages in India. They came to the United States in 1980 to pursue better job options. They’re both psychologists,” she explained. “I have a brother who is 18 months younger than I am. We grew up in a religious, Hindu household, speaking Hindi at home, eating mainly Indian food and going to temple every weekend. I learned Indian classical dance and became quite an accomplished dancer. My mother always hoped I would end up being a Bollywood actress.”

Just before her tenth birthday, her parents divorced, which was a rarity for Indian families of decades ago. Her father was out of the picture from that point, so she and her brother spent their teenage years growing up with a single mom. By high school, Subrina realized she did not want to be a professional Indian dancer or an actress, so she needed to choose a career path. She joined the TV club in her school, Jay High School, in Hopewell Junction, New York. That decision set her firmly on her career path.

“I was not that kid who had a passion for watching the news. We never gathered around the TV to watch the six o’clock news each evening. But I knew I was always very inquisitive, and I had a knack for communicating with people. I decided to pick colleges that had strong communications programs,” she noted. “Syracuse University was my top choice because of the great reputation of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.”

The Next Level
Subrina had the opportunity to intern with the British Broadcasting Corporation in London while in college. Her mother, however, was not convinced and believed that if she was not going to be an actress, a dancer or marry a very rich man, she should be a doctor or engineer. She applied to both the communications school and the engineering school at Syracuse University. “I got rejected from the communications school because my grades weren’t strong enough, which meant I started my freshman year of college as a bio-engineering major. Within my first semester I quickly realized it was not for me. I worked my tail off my freshman year to get as high a GPA as I could in order to transfer to the communications school,” she smiled. “Thankfully, I got in and began my major in broadcast journalism.”

As luck would have it, during her senior year she worked in the career center at Syracuse University and saw a job posting come through for a reporter position in Albany, New York. This was an hour and a half away from her, and when the news director at WNYT agreed to meet with her, they ended up speaking for over an hour; she was offered a job as a reporter. She spent her first year working for a newsroom in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Encouraging New Directions
In 2012, she began to push for a chance to anchor the morning show, knowing there had never been a woman on that show. Her news director at the time gave her a chance, and she is so grateful for his forward thinking. “I was honored to join and quickly found a new home in what became the number one news show in the Capital Region. People always ask me, ‘What time do you get up for work?’ At 12:30 a.m., pretty much the time most people go to bed at night. ‘What time do you go to bed?’ Pretty much the time a toddler goes to bed, around 7:30 p.m. I anchor the show from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. alongside Asa Stackel and Meteorologist Neal Estano,” she continued. “We’re a new team as of 2018, but we’re having a great time working together and getting to know each other.”

She met the love of her life, Ryan, in 2005 while walking into her apartment building, explaining that she ran into a handsome man in the lobby. She introduced herself and discovered he was working on a project she had been reporting on, a superfund project to clean up the Housatonic River. The couple fell in love and five years later, in 2010, married at 5:30 a.m. on Empire State Plaza.

“We decided to elope and save the money we would have spent on a wedding to take a long and amazing honeymoon. A longtime photographer at WNYT, Duffer Kendrick, got ordained and married us,” she related. “We had a small group of close friends there, had a five-minute ceremony and got in our car to drive to JFK and fly to the Maldives for two weeks.”

Subrina enjoys running, cooking, traveling, experiencing different cultures and sampling new food and wine, such as pasta in Florence, beef bourguignon in Paris, jerk chicken in Jamaica, and fish caught straight out of the ocean and cooked immediately in the Maldives. The couple has traveled extensively in the United States, and they have also been to Montreal, London, Lisbon, Madrid, Tuscany, Puerto Vallarta and Aruba. They became engaged in Costa Rica.

Family Life
In 2014, she feels she received the greatest and most amazing blessing of all, her precious daughter, Sonya, who is truly the light of her life. “She has taught me so much more about myself than I could have ever learned through anyone else,” Subrina reflected. “Having had some ups and downs with my own mother, I have rediscovered just how powerful and precious the relationship between a mother and daughter can be.”

The family lives in Saratoga County and she adores the North Country, as it’s family-oriented and offers many fun outdoor activities. Her job affords her the opportunity to visit all parts of the region and meet people from every part of it. When she leaves the studio between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., she picks up Sonya from Pre-K. She’s happy that WNYT is so wonderfully accommodating with families. Ryan is an engineer and works from home, so he takes care of Sonya in the morning; then they swap, and she gets to be with her. Subrina takes the opportunity to nap alongside Sonya to keep up her seemingly non-stop schedule.

Live Fully Present
“When young students ask me for advice, here’s what I say,” Subrina advised. “Be persistent and do not be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is how I got my internship with the BBC in London. Asking more questions is how I got out of the mailroom during that internship and went out with a reporter on a story. Asking questions is how I got to meet with the news director at WNYT when I was a senior in college; that led to the job I have now. Asking questions is how I was able to fill in as an anchor for the first time. Asking questions is how I got to join the morning team as the first female anchor. Asking questions is how a chance meeting turned into a second meeting and ended up in what is now a wonderful marriage with my husband.”

“Listen to that inner voice. You know, the one that nags you when you get that feeling like maybe you should say something. Don’t live in shoulda-woulda-coulda land. Don’t feel like it’s too late to circle back and ask the questions you wanted to ask. In the middle of all that, take a moment to stop, look up from your smartphone and appreciate what is in front of you. Find joy in a moment that doesn’t require a picture or a selfie. Breathe. Life is so beautiful! I’m so thankful for all the blessings I have in my life, mainly my precious daughter and my amazing husband.”

Subrina’s passion is to appreciate each day, love every moment and give her absolute best to whatever task she takes on. She loves putting the show together each morning. Most people don’t realize how much the anchors are truly involved in producing the two-hour show. “I pick many of the stories and write more than half of the show every day,” she described. “I love to write; I love to tell stories and I love connecting with people. This is such a powerful time for women. We get to teach our young girls their opportunities are endless. They can be whatever they want to be. Having faced adversity while pursuing my own career path, I would say this to any young girl or woman: you are so much stronger than you think. All you need to do is try. I guarantee you, you will surprise yourself. There is no such thing as failure. Every step provides an opportunity for growth. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and let your voice be heard!”

Her grateful heart is evident, and she wanted us to know that she is specifically grateful for five things: her Indian heritage, her amazing husband, her wonderful daughter, Indian food and Italian food and being able to sleep on the weekends!

The next time you’re hitting the sheets after watching a movie or reading, think of Subrina, who is waking up and splashing cold water on her face to begin her day. As you watch her in the morning after putting the coffee on, know she has already had several cups!

Follow Subrina on Facebook and watch her each morning on WNYT NewsChannel 13