Aerospace engineer goes out of his way to teach students

The Center for Academic Success buzzes with chatter from students, staff and tutors. Through the commotion, the voice of Stavros Diamantopoulos resonates with commanding presence. Without faltering, he answers a multitude of questions that vary from physics to astronomy.

Diamantopoulos, 29, is a junior at Pierce College majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a focus in astronautics. He will be transferring to California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo in Spring 2016.

As a child, Diamantopoulos fostered a deep curiosity for celestial bodies and space exploration. It did not take long before he knew he wanted to study these subjects after graduating from high school.

He spent his youth roaming the streets of Nikaia, Attiki, in Greece. This suburb on the fringes of Athens was the extent of Diamantopoulos’s world until he came to the United States in December 2012.

This decision to leave home was driven by his desire to pursue a higher-level education. He believed it was the best choice due to the country’s extensive background in space exploration.

“These opportunities were not available in Greece with the economy crisis after 2009 and 2010, the country faced financial cuts and I don’t think they would have been interested in something like space exploration,” laughed Diamantopoulos.

Diamantopoulos credits his mother with pushing him to enroll in college.

“My mother was the one that pushed me since I was a kid to focus more in my education, because that would be the way I could change my life,” Diamantopoulos said. “She was my biggest influence.”

To stay in accordance with his visa status as an international student, Diamantopoulos must take 12 units every semester.

In conjunction with his role as a full-time student, Diamantopoulos is the primary astronomy tutor, the official physics tutor, the head Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) tutor.

“If you take the Pierce catalog and count down the physics courses, I tutor all of them,” Diamantopoulos said. “So every semester, along with the astronomy courses, I have more than a thousand students that are under my advice.”

Dale Fields, who is the chairman of the physics department, has known Diamantopoulos for three years. Fields believes that while the job of a tutor can be a heavy burden at times, Diamantopoulos has proven himself to be a capable mentor.

“We look to see what people would be best in doing tutoring, and since he did fantastically well in the classes themselves I recommended him,” said Fields.

Fields feels that what makes Diamantopoulos unique is his sincerity toward higher education, especially his own.

“When he sets out to accomplish something he puts himself one hundred percent in it,” Fields said. “That level of seriousness and level of commitment is something that is not as common in someone.”

As the head STEM tutor, Diamantopoulos attends monthly seminars to train new tutors and show them how to manage different students.

“Together, with the other lead tutors of other subjects, [we] are responsible to have these training sessions to pass our knowledge to the new tutors,” Diamantopoulos said.

Diamantopoulos admits that he takes his job seriously because it’s not a subject where you can joke about and have fun.

“The responsibility that weighs on my shoulders is great because I tutor material that is critical for students entering universities,” Diamantopoulos said. “I always want to approach the material in a serious way because I respect my professors who have taught me the material and if they were serious enough for me to learn it then I also want to be serious enough when I help a student.”

Office assistant for the CAS Geremy Mason, 28, met Diamantopoulos in the fall semester 2015 and his first impression of Diamantopoulos was what a smart individual and well-spoken person he was something unlike for colleagues to say.

“I like his honesty because I know him in such a different level, and he knows he can tell me anything and I won’t get offended,” Mason said.

Maryam Abbasi, front desk associate of the CAS, admires how knowledgeable, dedicated and genius Diamantopoulos is.

“Stavros is always helping everyone, and he is very active in finding ways to make time for students who need his help,” Abbasi said.

Diamantopoulos admits that it is hard to balance his studies and work as a tutor with the life he leads outside of school. But after years of fine tuning, he has learned the tricks of the trade.

“It takes a lot of effort, good time management and good professionalism,” Diamantopoulos chuckled.

The journey for Diamantopoulos has been long and has yet to come to an end. He knew coming to the United States would not be an easy task. But he left the safety and comfort of his home to pursue .

“When hard situations happen, I concentrate and I put my head down and work even harder, and I know when the day has passed a new one will come and be better,” Diamantopoulos said.