Three Coyle Brothers at Stevens Continue Family Legacy

11/8/2011

No one needed to tell the Coyle boys where to find the Calder Mobile or that Benny’s pizza is infinitely better than Gino’s. They knew these things, since they’ve wandered the Stevens campus and neighborhood for longer than they can remember.

They’ve been visiting Castle Point —and hearing the stories—since they were in strollers, with mom Helen Emmanuelidis Coyle ’83, M.Eng. ’85, and dad James ’83, M.Eng. ’00, towing them along. Even their uncles Anastasios Emmanuelidis, M.Eng. ’79, and Konstantinos Emmanuelidis ’80 went to Stevens.

This fall, the Coyle family achieved a landmark that’s impressive even for a university that fosters a healthy number of legacy families. Three of the four Coyle boys are now attending Stevens, with the youngest son eyeing the Stute in the next few years.

Sean, Kiriakos ‘‘Kirk’’ and Christopher Coyle of Tenafly, N.J., all call Stevens home, with Sean a senior, Kirk a junior, and Christopher a member of the impressive freshman class who entered this fall.

All three insist that their parents didn’t push them to attend Stevens, and they all applied to at least seven schools. Their dad especially encouraged them to explore different options.

“As much as he tried to push us away, we stuck around,” Sean says recently, with a smile.

For the Coyle sons, it came down to Stevens’ strong engineering program, a great location and a familiarity with a place they’ve known almost all of their lives. First Sean, then both he and Kirk, have also passed down their special Stevens knowledge: from what classes you really have to focus on, what professors to take (and avoid) and even what’s the best food in Pierce.

They lead independent lives and have their own friends at Stevens, they say, and live in different residences. But having his brothers around makes Stevens feel even more like home, Sean says.

“It was also nice to know that I had my brothers (with me), whom I’ve known forever,” Christopher says.

When all three brothers stop by the Stevens Alumni Office one late September afternoon, some similarities are striking. They are all tall like their father, dark-haired, articulate. All three are majoring in biomedical engineering, with Sean planning to work as an engineer designing prosthetics, Kirk an aspiring orthopedic surgeon and Christopher a future dentist. All three are Eagle Scouts, their dad proudly mentions. And they all speak Greek.

Sean is easily identifiable as the warm, steady, oldest brother, Kirk seems quieter and more intense, Christopher, the most talkative of the three. All are members of Stevens’ Biomedical Engineering Society. But Sean serves as a senator with the Student Government Association and a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, while Kirk competes in club lacrosse, and Christopher plays string bass in the Stevens Orchestra.

They readily acknowledge that Kirk is the best student, and he’s now tutoring Christopher in Chemistry and Calculus, but Christopher gives his own special kind of help to his older brother. “I definitely tell Kirk how to dress,” he says jokingly.

Their parents, who met freshman year and were chemistry lab partners, are obviously proud of them.

Helen, a physics teacher at Tenafly High School, says that her sons were already independent, so sharing the same campus wasn’t a concern. She’s happy to have them close by, and thrilled that they chose Stevens, she says.

“Obviously, (my husband and I) both loved Stevens. It’s such a good, solid education,” she says. “It stays with you. You’re always a Stevens engineer.”

Dad Jim, a principal mechanical engineer with Arcadis, says that he’s just happy that they’re all doing well and enjoying college. The familiarity with Stevens helped them enter their college years with confidence, he says.

They get along most of the time, he says with a laugh. One thing is certain.

“They cover each other’s backs,” Jim says.

The three oldest Coyle boys like to call their youngest brother, Steven, “the baby” — something Steven, 16, a high school junior, may not find endearing. But Steven has his own gifts: he’s a budding engineer with a kind heart. Is he the next Coyle to enter Stevens?

"Leave a spot for him, just in case,” his dad says.