Sitting on the tenth floor of the Howe Center, in an office with breathtaking views of Hoboken and New York City, students can find Chris Shemanski, the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Student Life. Shemanski oversees over 110 student organizations on campus, and every year the number just keeps on growing. He is responsible for programs such as Alternative Spring Break and the student leadership program LEADS. Shemanski also works on planning events such as Freshman Orientation with his colleagues to give undergraduate students the best college experience possible.
Although this November will mark his 4th year here at Stevens, but Shemanski has several places he calls home. After receiving his Bachelors in Economics from Manhattan College, and then his Masters in Higher Education in Student Affairs from Texas A&M, he found himself in Ohio. Shemanski has always made it a point to push himself out of his comfort zone, and suggests that students do the same when they arrive on campus this fall. “You never know what’s going to happen…try things that are new, meet new people, be vulnerable through it because it’s not always going to be the most comfortable and that’s okay; that’s when we grow and that’s when we develop into the people we want to become.”
Shemanski explains that a huge reason why he has been at Stevens for the last 4 years is Stevens students. “You all come with such great ideas and really push the limits…you bring ideas of what’s happening outside of Castle Point and this small tight knit community and bring it here on a small scale and that’s exciting. I love the Stevens students that really are creative and, not to be cheesy, innovative…that constant change excites me and makes no day the same” He explains that he has a rough schedule planned, but his days are truly driven by students due to his open door policy. Shemanski was also originally drawn to Stevens due to its strong sense of community. He gushes, “I love the opportunity to build relationships with students, but also to see them grow and develop from when they start here, like at the Stute Freshman Weekend, and then getting to work with them over the next four to five years and then seeing them graduate. It’s amazing to see the growth and development that has happened. At larger institutions that have 50 to 60 thousand students, relationships are much different. You usually get to see them once and then you may never see them again. Here, I walk outside of my office on the campus and it’s really nice to see familiar faces.”
As for getting acclimated to Stevens, Shemanski reminds students “You have all of this [gesturing to Hoboken] and that [New York City] across the way; there are so many social and cultural activities, so take advantage and do that while you can. There are so many opportunities.” The Entertainment Committee provides students opportunities to see Broadway shows, concerts, professional sports games often at reduced rates. Shemanski insists, “all you have to do is show up!”
To students about to embark on this academic journey, Shemanski offers this advice: “Yes college is stressful. Yes, you have a lot going on. Take the time to walk out to Pier A. Just stop along any of the piers and just sit on the grass… just take a breath and soak it in. I think for me, [that] centers me and makes me put everything into perspective. It will all work out. Just take care of yourself along the way.”