Campus & Community

Stevens Freshmen Jump Right In

The first year of study on any university campus is full of exciting challenges. You discover your passions, hone in on your strengths, find new friends and mentors, and experience tremendous personal and professional growth.

At Stevens, freshman students stand out from the start – intellectually, socially, in the arts and athletics, and within the Hoboken community itself.

Read on about first-year students who took special advantage of the tremendous opportunities at Stevens to excel in every aspect of university life and beyond.

The Leader

Matthew Hunt of Wall Township, N.J. didn’t let his freshman status stop him from running for office. As just a freshman, the Mechanical Engineering major was elected by his fellow students to both the Student Government Association (he is a senator) and the Honor Board (he is co-chair of the Bylaw Committee).

Despite a rigorous academic workload – Hunt is in both the Cooperative Education program and the Stevens Scholars Research Program – he also is extremely active in campus life. He competes on the club volleyball team, serves as a member of the Entertainment Committee, and is rushing for Alpha Sigma Phi social fraternity and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.

“Something I had decided going into college was that I did not want to look back on my graduation day and think, ‘I could have done more,’” Hunt said. “At Stevens, becoming involved in campus life was not a difficult process at all. It has allowed me to not only make friends on campus, but also to make the most of my experience.”

The Musician

Daniel Aleman of Kearny, N.J. is pursuing a double degree in Engineering Management and Music & Technology. In his free time, he pursues his passion for music by performing with the Stevens jazz and concert bands, working in the pit orchestra for musical theater, and volunteering for WCPR, Stevens’ official radio station. Off campus, he moonlights as a live sound and recording engineer.

“I took the initiative to join things that piqued my interests, but advice from upperclassmen and faculty definitely helped,” he said. “Joining one activity here starts a domino effect; you soon find yourself in a whole slew of stuff.”

He said engaging fully in campus life was an easy way to make the successful transition from high school to college.

“The more you get involved and socialize, the more people you will meet and you’ll begin to realize a college campus is more than just a set of buildings and students; it’s another home for you,” he said.

The Athletes

Elena Piper, a Quantitative Finance major from Chesapeake, Va., is on the varsity swimming team at Stevens, which helped her develop new friendships and balance her time between practice, meets, classes, studying, socializing, and a host of other activities, including the Honor Board, the business organization Phi Beta Lamda, and the environmental club S.A.V.E.

“Stevens is the perfect college if you’re worried about the adjustment to a college campus,” Piper said. “Most of my friends are on the varsity swim team but my involvement in the Honor Board as well as other clubs has allowed me to meet new people that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Business Technology Management major Gavriella Risman-Jones of New Boston, N.H. came to Stevens after being recruited to join the varsity softball team. In addition to softball, she also works in the Office of Residence Life, and is applying to be a Resident Assistant and tour guide.

“I love the community feel of Stevens,” she said. “My professors and teaching assistants know me and make themselves readily available for extra help. Stevens challenges all students, which will only benefit us in the real world.”

The Renaissance Men

Jacob Vanderbilt of Davis, Cali., a Chemical Engineering major, has a great many interests, and at Stevens he found a way to pursue them all. His charitable side finds ways to give back through the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. His inner-leader serves on the student-faculty alliance and organizes student activities through the Entertainment Committee. The athlete in him competes with the Stevens Club Baseball team.

“One of the great things about Stevens is that there are people here who will share your interests,” Vanderbilt said. “I was surprised at how easy it was for me to adjust, especially living over 3,000 miles from home, but Stevens makes it easy. There is so much to do and so many terrific people to meet that you become comfortable quite quickly.”

Charles Shotmeyer of Franklin Lakes, N.J., a Biomedical Engineering major, is also involved in array of groups and activities, including the Student Government Association, the Stevens Club Soccer Team, the Stevens Christian Fellowship, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the College Republicans, and the Stevens Health Professions Club.  

“Due to the size and environment of the campus, I was able to find many people who shared the same interests that I have, while at the same time I was able to try things that were not offered at my high school,” Shotmeyer said. “The possibilities are endless.”

The Performers

Molly Dugan of Morris Plains, N.J. and Trevor Batchelder of Toms River, N.J. spent their freshman years near the stage. Both theater-lovers are members of the Stevens Dramatic Society (SDS), and they have already taken part in several productions.

Dugan, who was in charge of props for the spring musical, is a Mechanical Engineering major who committed to joining the performing arts community during Pre-Orientation, when she met many students who shared her interests, including upperclassmen who encouraged her to join SDS.

“Getting involved on campus exposed me to people I may not have been friendly with otherwise,” Dugan said.

In addition to his involvement in SDS, Batchelder also participates in choir and the theater fraternity Theta Alphi Phi. He is also pledging to the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.

“The clubs cover a wide variety of interests and there truly is something for everyone,” said Batchelder, a Chemical Engineering major. “On the off chance that there isn’t, it is easy to create your own club.”

What Can Stevens Be for You?

These Stevens students agree that the freshman experience at Stevens is unique. It is easy to become involved, and there are countless options and opportunities to participate in clubs, activities, sports, fraternities, sororities, academic research and must more. All freshmen need to do is decide what is the best fit for them and then dive right in and take advantage.

“Stevens really does a great job of offering a variety of options for student involvement including clubs, professional associations, volunteer opportunities, fraternities and sororities,” said Holly Nelson, assistant director of Student Life. “As students get involved in one campus group, that one activity will usually lead to meeting other students, making friends, and getting involved with more activities they hear about through their friends. The best thing about being a student at Stevens is that if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you have the opportunity to start a new organization with your peers!”

The Stevens Club Fair – an event which occurs annually each fall semester at which every registered club on campus distributes information, meets with potential members, and answers questions – is one key reason.

“Seeing all of the different options was really the moment that I decided I wanted to be as involved as I could be,” Hunt said.

“All of the clubs actively welcome new members so it’s easy to join up,” Batchelder said.

Participating in Pre-Orientation and Orientation also greatly assists freshmen in adjusting to college life.

“The Pre-Orientation experience made all the difference in the world,” Aleman said. “It gave me a family away from home and was an amazing way to start college.”

“I highly recommend doing pre-orientation,” Risman-Jones added. “I made a lot of friends in those few days who I’m still close with now. I was able to get to know my roommates before classes started, and I was also able to familiarize myself with the school earlier.”  

They also credit Stevens’ relatively small undergraduate population as a huge advantage for freshmen students.

“Stevens is just big enough that you are always meeting new people, which is great for a freshman, but it’s small enough that you always run into friends,” Dugan said.

“Being with students who are in the same classes, involved in the same things, and have the same struggles as you was truly what allowed me to persevere through my freshman year,” added Hunt.

Piper said the physical size of the campus is another asset.

“I love already knowing where all the buildings are and really feeling like the whole campus is just my big home,” she said. 

Stevens hometown, Hoboken, has also been ranked as one of the nation’s best college town, ensuring freshmen have the world at their fingertips.

“There is no better location than Hoboken, and having New York only ten minutes away gives you so many things to do,” said Aleman.

“There is plenty to do on campus, in Hoboken, and across the river in New York City,” added Batchelder.

And last, the great people at Stevens are perhaps its biggest advantage to first-year students.

“Everyone on campus is extremely friendly and inclusive so I was able to meet upperclassman and other freshman extremely easy,” Shotmeyer said. “I was able to talk with upperclassman that had taken classes before and they were able to give me some pointers.”

“The upperclassmen, and people in general at Stevens, are really friendly and want to get you on the right track both academically and socially,” Vanderbilt said. “This friendliness is what made Stevens my first choice when I was looking at colleges, and it continues to reassure me that I made the right decision.”

“The academics here are top-notch, but it’s the people that make it really special,” added Aleman. 

What advice do these stand-out students have for incoming freshmen?

Jump right in and worry about the little things later.

“Keep in mind that the first few weeks of the year will be exciting and nerve-wracking and a little bit scary for everyone, but that’s normal, and as the semester continues you’ll find your niche,” Risman-Jones said.

“Be as open as possible,” Hunt added. “College is what you make it, and if you are open to everything happens, it can and will be one of the best experiences of your entire life.”

“Your first year experience is really about casting a wide net, catching a lot, and keeping what you like,” concluded Vanderbilt. “That way you can continue through your Stevens experience doing things you love with people you enjoy.”