Success Knows No Boundaries for ChristinaJ M.Eng. ’06
ChristinaJ M.Eng. ’06, award-winning author of the children’s novel, Royal Planet, draws on her science and engineering background to immerse the reader in a fantastical, action-packed adventure designed to help children navigate topics such as colorism, racism, adoption, trauma, addiction, narcissism, relationships, self-worth, family dynamics and more.
Stevens alumni are known for their ability to succeed, and lead, in whatever fields they choose. Since completing her graduate study at Stevens, ChristinaJ M.Eng. ’06 has more than proven the point.
After completing undergraduate co-ops with Unisys, Lockheed Martin and Glaxosmithkline, ChristinaJ was on the corporate track with the global defense corporation BAE Systems when her supervisor invited her to consider Stevens’ onsite work-study program.
“At first, I gravitated toward a master’s degree in electrical engineering since my undergraduate degree was in computer engineering—I love the science and hardware aspect of the field,” ChristinaJ says. “But because I was currently working as a systems engineer at BAE Systems, I switched my master’s degree to systems engineering to be in line with my career. There are many similarities in electrical and computer engineering. I appreciate having that ECE foundation.”
Although courses were provided at BAE Systems, ChristinaJ quickly switched to taking her classes at the university. “Campus was close to work,” she says. “Being born and raised in the NY/NJ area, Castle Point is such a gem. I loved getting to campus just before sunset, walking up to the castle-like entrance. It was like going from work to a magical calm space—peaceful yet full of energy.”
ChristinaJ’s growing knowledge and expertise earned her the BAE Systems Meritorious Performer Award in 2005. Just a year later, her team won the Chairman’s Gold Award in Innovation, the highest award offered by the global company. “I also co-wrote and published a paper for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE),” she notes.
More recently, ChristinaJ has turned her attention to helping others launch their tech ideas through angel investing. As a general partner with XIA Capital, she is ever on the lookout for forward-thinking approaches to AI and sustainability. She speaks and participates on panels at national and international conferences and pitch sessions.
Despite devoting so much attention to the world of technology innovation, ChristinaJ has always managed to prioritize – and find great success in – her own artistry. As an actress who is also classically trained in Indian dance, she starred in one of the first Telugu movies filmed in the U.S., Atu America, Itu India, and has had supporting roles in numerous dance dramas as well.
She is an experienced choreographer, performer and dance instructor who has performed on Broadway, as well as across North America, Europe and Asia. She opened and managed two dance schools in New York and New Jersey, earning her the 2009 Kerala Cultural Forum of New Jersey Achievement Award. She has competed in – and won – several pageants including Miss India NJ, Miss Millennium Beauty Queen and Miss Asia America. In addition, ChristinaJ has experience in coordinating and judging dance competitions and pageant events.
ChristinaJ’s most recent endeavor began with a bedtime story she conceived for her children, writing while she waited in their elementary school pick-up line. She completed Royal Planet during the pandemic.
“It is an action-packed story with a lot of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing what’s next,” she explains. “It also touches on topics that children will need to understand as they grow into adults, such as colorism, racism, adoption, trauma, addiction, narcissism, relationships, self-worth and family dynamics, without feeling like a lecture.”
The book has already earned 2022 Purple Dragonfly Book Award honors, including first place in the general category, first place in historical fiction, second place for chapter books, and honorable mention in science fiction/fantasy, humor, cultural diversity and several other categories.
As a result, these days most of ChristinaJ’s time is devoted to promoting Royal Planet and developing a prequel. “Each character has a fascinating backstory that I would like to share,” she says.
In addition to angel investing, ChristinaJ steps up in the community by serving as a volunteer for a community-based domestic abuse program. “I find it important to be of service to others. It grounds me and puts things in perspective. Sometimes a person needs someone to help them out of a bad situation. It’s okay to reach out for help,” she says.
Living in Colorado, ChristinaJ stays connected with Stevens by attending virtual alumni meetings and events whenever possible. “I like knowing what’s going on and keeping in touch with my former classmates – even though we started in the same major, our careers took us in so many different directions,” she says.
ChristinaJ believes that her Stevens education prepared her, and her fellow alumni, for success in whatever endeavors they choose. “Engineering is such a fundamental field,” she says. “Stevens teaches you to see things in engineering terms, by breaking it down and finding connections.”
“I used the same approach while writing Royal Planet,” she continues. “I was creating something from nothing and figuring out how the pieces worked. It was exhilarating to put the pieces together to make a cohesive story.”