Howe School Dean Encourages Chinese Students to Become ‘Citizens of the World’

New graduates welcomed to Alumni Association as Stevens continues building bridges overseas

12/6/2013

There’s a word Dr. Gregory Prastacos, dean of the Howe School, keeps coming back to when he describes Stevens alumni in China.

Thirst.

“The new alumni chapter we have in China is the most enthusiastic, the most thirsty, the most eager to do things for Stevens and our students,” Prastacos told a group of graduate students who recently completed their degrees and are now preparing to further their studies or enter the workforce.

Prastacos described what he called his “special attachment” to China. He’s made many visits over the past decade. In June, Prastacos traveled to Beijing to host a reception for Stevens alumni in the country, officially introducing a local alumni chapter in China’s capital.

Prastacos explained the role played, and opportunities offered, by Stevens to its alumni after graduation, focusing on connections to employers around the globe and other resources they can take advantage of.

Given its outstanding academic reputation and ideal location minutes from New York City, Stevens is a popular choice for graduate education for Chinese students, and the university’s Chinese alumni base is extremely strong. Stevens also is engaged in a number of international educational partnerships and collaborations, including with prestigious Chinese universities such as the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) and Beijing Institute of Technology.

The dean invited questions and comments from the audience of new graduates. A number of those comments were highly supportive of the learning they received at Stevens, but suggested they could use additional support in becoming more integrated in the local community, as well as in meeting employers who could sponsor them as they aim to meet residency requirements.

That, of course, is what Stevens’ alumni office is all about, said Michael Smullen, associate executive director of the Alumni Association.

There are nearly 40,000 Stevens alumni around the world, Smullen said, “and the second you say to another Stevens grad that you graduated from here, they’re going to open up to you like you’ve never seen.”

And the Alumni Association is standing by to offer students that kind of help, with contacts at businesses in every industry and geographic area.

“We’re happy to make that connection for you,” Smullen said.

Prastacos also urged students to adopt a global perspective before heading back to their homelands.

“You have to be international, you have to be citizens of the world,” Prastacos said. “When you go back, you don’t know how much you’ll be appreciated.” Without that cultural understanding, he added, “you’ll have studied at an American university, but you will leave without that perspective.”

But they can’t go home just yet. Noting the room was filled with engineering graduates, Prastacos said “you have to go work for a few years — then come back here to study business.”

Staying connected

At the event, Chinese alumni were encouraged to link up with the Alumni Association through its networks online. Here’s a listing of resources for interested alumni:

Stevens LinkedIn group: www.stevens.edu/alumni/linkedin

Stevens China alumni LinkedIn group: www.stevens.edu/alumni/china-linkedin

Stevens alumni Weibo page: http://weibo.com/chinastevens

Alumni can also visit the China alumni site, at www.stevens.net.cn, or email the China alumni group at chinaclub@alumni.stevens.edu