2012 Graduate Sets Sights on Economic Development in Nicaragua

5/2/2012

When Elias Aleman’s name is called at Stevens’ 2012 graduate commencement ceremony, he’ll proudly hoist his well-earned M.S. in Management degree, but he knows his work his far from over.

Aleman’s dream is to contribute to the economic development of his native country, Nicaragua, and his past studies and future plans are all focused on achieving it. Prior to coming to Stevens he had worked for a short time as a civil engineer and then as business development analyst. This experience led him to realize he needed to further build his project management knowledge and skills if he hoped to positively impact Nicaragua’s development.

He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Universidad Católica Redemptoris Mater in Nicaragua and then went on to enroll in a M.S. in Development Projects Management at one of the most prestigious universities in Nicaragua, the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería. However, he could not complete his program, as he was selected as one of only a handful of students in all of Nicaragua by Fulbright, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, to complete his M.S. in Management in the United States. He chose Stevens because it is among a very small group of universities nationwide that offer certification in project management. He began the program in the fall of 2010 and chose project management as his concentration.

“From foreign aid to financial investment to infrastructure development, there are countless projects going on right now in Nicaragua and other rapidly-changing emerging economies,” Aleman said. “Proper project management is a must to achieve the goals intended by such projects in an efficient manner.”

At Stevens, Aleman has made the most of his time by immersing himself in on-campus activities to soon become one of the friendliest and most familiar faces on campus.

“I thought it would be harder to adjust to a new country, but with all of the groups I became involved in I’ve pretty much been in the honeymoon stage for my entire time I’ve been at Stevens,” Aleman said.

Aleman has served as a graduate Orientation leader for the past three semesters, one of his most defining and memorable experiences at Stevens.

“Stevens has an extremely diverse and heavily international graduate community,” Aleman said. “My interaction with this community helped me realize that even though we each may have our own unique cultures, we’re really not so different. It is wonderful preparation for the workplace today, in which you’ll often find many different cultures within one company, team or division.”

Today, Aleman is the president of the Graduate Management Association, which he founded with friends to add practical management knowledge to the management theory they learn in the classroom. He is also treasurer of the Soccer Club, which plays every Friday, and vice president of the Stevens student chapter of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).

He has also gained valuable work experience in the United Sates, through a financial services internship at the New York City Department of Small Business Services, which provides assistance and support to small business owners. Working with engineers, architects, city officials and consultants, Aleman has contributed to a large-scale project to build a cost estimation tool for the restaurant industry, so restaurant owners can create business plans with accurate projections of the market and secure financing.

Even after Aleman earns his degree, the honeymoon phase at Stevens can continue for at least three years. Aleman will remain at the University as he works toward his Ph.D. in Technology Management, focusing his research on entrepreneurship and leadership.

“I want to learn as much as I can about management, so when I ultimately return to Nicaragua I can really make a difference,” he said.