Teaching English to the World: Luis Clement ’77

Written by: Christina Crovetto,
“I dream of my school every time I have the chance to dream.”

The day he set foot at NJIT, Luis Clement ’77 knew that life was going to be different. He arrived in the United States from Colombia in 1971 and enrolled at Essex County College, where he played soccer and was the team’s highest scorer. He transferred to NJIT in 1975 and made his presence known immediately on the soccer field as a “fast and tricky” forward, according to coach, J. Malcolm Simon. While at NJIT, Clement shared two years of “unforgettable happenings” with a group of players from all over the world.

“We had a dream team,” he recalled. "Hernan ‘Chico’ Borja, a former U.S. National Soccer Team member and a member of the NJIT Athletics Hall of Fame, was our fellow player. I lived my best two years of life at NJIT.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology, Clement worked at Weston Instruments in Newark as a quality control engineer from 1978 to 1979, returning to Colombia when his father passed away. “It was very difficult to live far from my family,” he said.

Once back in Colombia, Clement worked for 10 years as a sales field engineer for three different companies: a Swiss-Colombian company named Walter Rothlisberger selling electric power measuring devices; Baxter Labs as a quality control engineer, and Microcom Corporation, a computer company. He followed this up by working in Italy doing marketing research for a local branch of Goodyear, the car service products company. After three months, he returned to Colombia and opened a sales office in Bogota for the same company. Two years later, he teamed up with former NJIT soccer teammate Alfonso Cardenas ’80 in a water- and waste-treatment venture. Cardenas served as project director for design and construction of the local wastewater treatment plant.

In 2002, Clement embarked on a career change as a technical translator and English instructor at Icesi and Autonoma, both universities in Cali, Colombia. At the same time, he launched a startup in electronic waste with his brother, a chemical engineer. However, he decided that his true passion was teaching, and in 2008 founded a private language school, World English Language Center (worldenglish.edu.co). Clement’s school now has 150 students and he is moving forward with his dream of developing a school specializing in conversational English and English for specific purposes.

He still keeps in touch with his former soccer coach.

“Malcolm Simon was like my father,” he said. “I named my son after him.”

What is his lasting impression of NJIT?

“I dream of my school every time I have the chance to dream,” Clement said. “I love it to my bones, probably because there I met my best friends ever.”