Kirit Sarvaiya ’97 and Evelyn Burbano-Koehler ’98 M.S. ’03: Building A West Coast Alumni Community
Stevens graduates Evelyn Burbano-Koehler ’98 M.S. ’03 and Kirit Sarvaiya ’97 may be operating from opposite ends of California, but both are ensuring that an active Stevens community retains a bit of Castle Point on the West Coast.
Burbano-Koehler and Sarvaiya are proof that when you earn a degree at Stevens, the university becomes part of you. Both are generous with their time and energy, frequently connecting with alumni in their region. Burbano-Koehler heads the Northern California Alumni Club while Sarvaiya takes the lead with the SoCal Alumni Club.
Burbano-Koehler was 5 years old when she began mixing ingredients to make her own lotions. It was the beginning of a lifelong love for chemistry.
“I wanted to be a mad scientist and create potions,” she says with a laugh.
She was in the sixth grade, already in gifted and talented programs for math and science, when a young African-American woman visited her school to talk about working as an engineer at Exxon.
“That’s it!” she thought. “This woman has my dream job — and it’s called chemical engineering!”
When it was time to choose a college, there was only one that met her demand for excellence.
“It was, and still is, Stevens,” she says.
Now Burbano-Koehler inspires the next generation of women in STEM, mentoring and speaking about her experiences. She is CEO of her own company, Burbano Management LLC, an engineering consulting firm that assists pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with quality in manufacturing, risk mitigation, and compliance with FDA regulations.
She was active in alumni activities while living in New Jersey; when she moved to California in 2008, she reached out to the local alumni club. When Marty Fleisler ’65, then leading the Northern California Club, passed away, Burbano-Koehler was recruited to take the lead.
“Marty was such a gentleman,” she recalls. “I had really big shoes to fill.”
She has been leading the club for nearly seven years, and in 2013 received the Harold R. Fee 1920 Alumni Achievement Award from Stevens.
Sarvaiya’s own journey to Stevens began with a soda can. He was still attending high school in India when he visited the U.S. with his father.
“We kept noticing how frequently aluminum cans were used,” he remembers. “At home, all of our soft drinks were packaged in bottles. Although I was interested in computer science, my father thought I should study metallurgical engineering and bring aluminum can manufacturing to India. Stevens was the only university I could find that offered metallurgical engineering.”
However, by the time he arrived at Stevens, that program had been modernized as a major in materials engineering. Sarvaiya began his career working for a copper refinery, then soon pivoted to software engineering. Today, he is founder and CEO of Malabar Hill Ventures, an investment and management consulting firm.
Sarvaiya also attended alumni events in New Jersey and then, when a job with Microsoft took him to San Francisco, in California.
“When I moved to Southern California, I thought, why doesn’t Stevens have alumni events here too?” he wondered.
Once he learned volunteers were needed, he stepped up.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the success of our first event,” Sarvaiya says. “Some of the guests had traveled long distances to attend.”
And today he continues to welcome alumni members of Stevens’ extended family from both near and far.