Perhaps nothing feels more fulfilling to Stevens undergraduate students than commencement, a moment to celebrate that they "made it" – they, indeed, persevered to earn a degree from a premier university and are launching to the next phase of their lives.
Although their experiences and destinations are diverse, graduates of the Stevens Class of 2011 share a commonality at this important milestone in their student careers. The Stevens advantage continues to give graduates a remarkable return on investment. An impressive 96% of last year's graduating class accepted employment opportunities of their choice, and the Class of 2011 continues to experience higher placement rates than last year at this time, a stellar record, especially, in the constrained job market they face today.
The 2011 Commencement ceremonies mark the start of promising careers in the workforce and advanced degree programs for Stevens graduates. They have accepted offers at top companies in industry and government. Among the long list of employers are ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, DuPont, and the Department of Defense. What's more, those who sought medical, dental and other graduate schools will be attending programs at Columbia University, Georgetown University Medical School, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, to name a few.
While we would be delighted to highlight the accomplishments of each and every graduate, meet graduating seniors Veronica Smith, Rui Xiong, Ellyn Griggs, and Robert Bishop. Their stories represent the overall success enjoyed by this year's graduating class.
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Employment: Johnson & Johnson
As a Stevens co-op student, Veronica joined the 40% of Stevens students who take part in this unique academically-based program. She alternated semesters in class with full-time work experience, and that's where she was first introduced to Johnson & Johnson, the company she has chosen for full-time employment post graduation. Graduating with a biomedical engineering degree as well as graduate certificates in project management and health care management, Veronica is on her way to an exciting career at Johnson & Johnson in the highly selective Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) program in which she'll serve in two domestic and one international, eight-month management rotations. "It's exciting, and I look forward to this new experience," Veronica said. "I'll be supervising at the Acuvue® contact lens plant. It'll be a challenge, and that's exactly what I wanted and am prepared for."
At Stevens, Veronica also seized the opportunity to participate in tissue engineering research under Dr. Hongjun Wang and was able to take part in a neuroscience summer research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was a member of Stevens' track and field team as well as a peer mentor, an upper-class undergraduate student who assists new undergraduates in their academic transition into college.
Reflecting on her transformation at Stevens, Veronica noted how independent and focused she's become. "When I first came to Stevens, I thought I wanted to focus more on research and go to graduate school," she said. "And I got to try that here. I changed my direction, but it was great to be able to test my original interest right away. I wouldn't have found the path I'm on now had I not had the opportunity to explore my options before graduating. My friends who were at other universities didn't have such opportunities. Because I did, I was able to actually create a more focused plan while I was still an undergraduate student. I highly encourage students just beginning their journey here to take full advantage of all the ways Stevens allows students to discover their passions."
Major: Business and Technology
Employment: Federal Reserve Bank, New York City
Rui is launching from Stevens with both a bachelor's degree in business and technology and a master's degree in global innovation management. He also earned graduate certificates in project management and technology management. Rui is happy to have accepted a fulltime post at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City as a bank examiner and is excited that the role will allow him rotational stints in various areas of the company (for example, liquidity, management and financial analysis) to further diversify his experience there. He was first introduced to the Federal Reserve Bank through an internship at Stevens, and for two years he also took part in their College Federal Challenge, a team academic competition for undergraduate students. Among the topics he tackled was quantitative finance.
Rui pursued many opportunities in- and outside of class to explore his interest in economics, business, finance, and monetary policy, a curiosity he said grew from following the financial crisis events of 2007. Ample openings for student involvement and its proximity to Manhattan were significant factors in his choice to attend Stevens.
"I liked my program, and I was fortunate to have access to a wonderful group of peers and faculty," Rui said. "The size of Stevens is a great asset for students. I developed close relationships with everyone, including faculty and administration. Here, you won't have a class with someone once and then never see them again. My peers at other institutions certainly weren't saying that about their experiences. And the classes at Stevens are diverse; that is very true. The global influence here is extremely beneficial. Stevens really transformed my world view in many ways."
Major: Mechanical Engineering
As a Stevens Scholar, Ellyn is graduating with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in systems engineering. In addition to summer research in nanotechnology at Stevens, her involvements outside the classroom are more than impressive. Ellyn's activities include varsity field hockey (captain) as well as a stint on the track and field team her freshman year. She participated in two paid summer internships at L'Oreal in the company's Franklin, New Jersey manufacturing plant. Ellyn was one of only two juniors selected for the internship. She also served as a resident assistant, member of the leadership honor society Gear and Triangle, a student blogger for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, treasurer of her sorority, secretary of the Greek honor society, club field hockey coach, and a peer mentor.
In a fulltime position at L'Oreal, Ellyn will enter her new career through the company's Management Development Program, a rotational leadership program in which she'll work two or three rotations at various locations and in different job functions to then take on a managerial position within the company. Ellyn looks forward to her first placement at L'Oreal's manufacturing plant in Kentucky, where the majority of the company's hair care and hair styling products are made.
It's clear from her resume, Ellyn has lived the advice she gives to new students. "I would tell anyone entering Stevens that they can do anything here. Really, it's such a benefit to get involved," she said. "There is so much to do here, and you don't need to be intimidated by all the options. It's all about time management. Once you get that down, the sky's the limit!"
Major: Business and Technology
Employment: JPMorgan Chase
A business and technology major who minored in economics, Robert is graduating from Stevens with a fulltime position at JPMorgan Chase as an operations analyst, and he is looking forward to the challenge. He said the main draw to his program of study at Stevens was his dream to someday work for a top company on Wall Street. Although he had some ambivalence about pursuing that passion, he's grateful Stevens allowed him the opportunity to experience it first hand to see if it was good fit. Indeed, it was.
Not only did he get hands-on experience through an internship with the company during the summer concluding his junior year at Stevens, but Robert was also involved in a major project born from the Stevens Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) program, which joins select students from the Stevens' Schaefer School of Engineering and Howe School of Technology Management to develop market plans centered around Stevens startup companies. The goal is to cultivate tomorrow's technology entrepreneurs through first-hand research and commercialization experience.
Like many of his peers, Robert leaves Stevens with appreciation for the diverse experiences available to students. "The opportunities available here really set Stevens apart from other schools," Robert said. "I was a varsity student athlete, had a competitive internship, handled a rigorous course load, and teamed up with peers, professors and business leaders to advance a new tool designed by a software startup company, ID8 Systems, within a new marketplace. And as if that wasn't enough, I had the chance to do more." At Stevens, Robert also served as a Resident Assistant and captain of the varsity wrestling team, played club men's lacrosse, was a peer mentor and Orientation Leader, and enjoyed being heavily involved in a fraternity.