Freshmen on move-in day and alumni on their graduation day have a lot of the same questions on their mind with no exact answers: Where will I go from here? What will I do? Will I be successful? But despite these unanswered questions, they do have the answer to one: “What’s a seawolf?”

So what is the answer? Alia Sabur knew it was, “I am,” at the age of 10 when she began her college career at Stony Brook University with the same questions on her mind. Joe Nathan knew the answer when he began his career as a major league baseball player. Scott Higham knew the answer when he accepted a Pulitzer Prize. The Stony Brook Alumni have found success in fields ranging from costume design to the Republican Party and with Macintosh.

Sabur, one of the most notable of Stony Brook’s graduates, holds the record for being the youngest college professor in the world at 18.

Showing signs of superior intelligence from a young age, Sabur started taking college-level courses after her school district found it was unable to meet her academic needs.

“I was pretty scared at the time,” she said. “I thought college was more grown-up.”

She credits her professors and the classes she took in helping her adjust to higher-level education and for playing a big role in her decision to study applied mathematics.

“Get to know your professors,” she says. “They’re really on your side… take advantage of the vast array of courses.”

Completing her undergraduate career in 2003 at the age of 14, Sabur went on to obtain a Masters and then PhD in Material Science and Engineering from Drexel University. She began her teaching career in 2008, working for the Southern University at New Orleans and later, as an SBU research liaison at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. She left the position in 2009, according to her website.

Now 24, with a degree from George Washington University Law School, Sabur is working for the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a patent examiner, overseeing the rights that a government grants to an inventor regarding his or her product. She says she is “glad” remembering her time at George Washington “in addition to that non-traditional experience [Stony Brook].”

Sabur is just one of many SBU alumni who have gone on to lead successful careers, ranging from performers and writers to scientists and politicians. Executive Director Matthew Colson of the Alumni Association stresses that student-alumni relations are important because they can lead to internship and job opportunities, and create networks for students both before and after graduation.

“The Stony Brook Alumni Association seeks to foster a lifelong intellectual and emotional connection between the University and its graduates, and to provide the University with goodwill and support,” said Colson in an email. “The Association is also here to help students make the most of their experience at Stony Brook.”

But SBU graduates are not just academics, they come in all shapes and sizes. Joe Nathan, for example, a 1997 SBU graduate, currently a pitcher for The Texas Rangers. Nathan credits his high school baseball coach for encouraging him to apply to Stony Brook.

“In high school, I wasn’t a player that many colleges were interested in,” he said. “[Stony Brook] allowed me to grow as a person and a player.”
Nathan played shortstop for the then division three team before switching to pitcher.

After taking some time off to play minor league baseball for the Bellingham Giants, Nathan returned to Stony Brook and graduated with a degree in business management. Following graduation he played another two-year stint with Bellingham before being called up to the San Francisco Giants, a major league team, in 1999. He was traded in 2003 to the Minnesota Twins and continued on with them until 2011 when he was traded to the Texas Rangers.

“Picking a field of interest is of the utmost importance,” Nathan said of the college experience. “Whatever field it is, make sure you’re having fun with it and can become the best that you can be.”

He honored his Alma Mater in 2009 by donating $500,000 to the Stony Brook Athletics Department for a new baseball field. The university opened it in 2011, naming it The Joe Nathan Field.

SBU alumni are also well known for their creative achievements with many going on to win academy awards, Pulitzers and Nobel prizes. Investigative reporter Scott Higham, who writes for The Washington Post, is one example.

Writing for the paper since 2000, Higham was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2002 alongside journalists Sari Horwitz and Sarah Cohen. The trio helped expose the neglect and deaths of over 200 children in the foster care program of the District of Columbia, which led to reforms within the D.C. welfare system.  Higham  has also written on the subjects of homeland security, the Abu Ghraib Prison investigation and the 2001 disappearance of D.C. intern, Chandra Levy, on which he co-authored a book, Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery, according to The Washington Post’s website.

Graduating with a history degree in 1982, Higham began his career at the Allentown Morning Call in Pennsyvania, eventually going to work for the Miami Herald in Baltimore Sun before landing a job at The Washington Post. He attributes his decision to go into journalism to his time spent at The Stony Brook Press where he served as editor of the paper.

“I love the camaraderie of the place,” he said, joking that it was also the reason why he neglected his grades. “I did just enough to get B’s. I probably could have gotten A’s, but I was more concerned about my work at The Stony Brook Press.”

Despite this, Higham commends the school on its diversity and academic reputation.

“It’s become a very good school,” he said. “It will help when it comes time to look for jobs and graduate school.”

These are just three of many former students who have graced the halls of Stony Brook University and gone on to lead successful and impressive careers. And who knows? Maybe someone reading this will be among them in the future.


Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.