It was a night filled with great pride, heartfelt passion and true promise for the 40 “best and brightest” star scholarship recipients, their families and the more than 450 guests who attended the stellar event that featured Academy Award winning filmmaker, Alexander Payne as the 2012 Paradigm Recipient and Chicago’s own Dean Richards, Emmy Award winning reporter as Master of Ceremonies. Petros Gaitanos, renowned Greek singer and songwriter provided star quality entertainment, making it a most memorable evening. The fantastic Silent Auction was a considerable help to the Foundation, raising funds for its scholarship and educational programs.
“Pride, Passion and Promise… Every one of the PanHellenic scholars has these three characteristics. Pride in their Hellenic heritage and upbringing — Passion for learning and seeking higher education — and the Promise to succeed and contribute meaningfully to American society,” said Mr. Chris P. Tomaras, Chairman of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation in his remarks.
The event on June 16th marked the Foundation’s first decade of publicly celebrating and applauding the academic excellence and accomplishments of 40 outstanding Greek American college students (see accompanying list of names of the award recipients). The 2012 recipients were inducted as members of the Foundation’s prestigious PanHellenic Honors Society, which now has a total of 227 members. As members, they will be part of a network that will foster the spirit of Hellenism, promote leadership and stimulate a desire to render service. The Foundation plans to host its first leadership conference of the Honors Society in the fall of 2012.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow award recipients, Cleopatra Haviaras, a junior from CUNY Queens College with a major in History and Classics, thanked Mr. Tomaras and the Foundation by saying “I express my thanks to the Foundation and Mr. Tomaras for recognizing and awarding the students for their achievements. They have bestowed upon us a most gracious award indeed, one that will enable us to move forward with our heads held high.”
Following the scholarship presentation, Dean Richards introduced the short video biography of Alexander Payne, acclaimed director and writer who received the 2012 Paradigm Award. In receiving the Paradigm Award, Payne thanked Mr. Tomaras and the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation for being selected as this year’s recipient. He shared his family’s story of how his grandfather settled in Omaha, Nebraska, opened a restaurant and adapted to his new adopted American home, while making sure his family knew and remembered their Hellenic roots.
“When my father wanted to go to Dartmouth, he told my grandfather that he was going to an Ivy League school, you know Dad, like Harvard.” My grandfather said “so why not go to Harvard?”
Payne also shared with the recipients his own educational journey of how his parents hoped he would become a lawyer, but how he pursued his own passion of becoming a filmmaker.
Addressing the scholarship recipients Payne said, “The only modest piece of advice I will offer you tonight — for God’s sake, don’t listen to your parents when it comes to choosing a profession. They love you so much, but they often mistake financial security as early as possible with happiness in life. They are not the same thing, not by a long shot. Earth, during the brief flash of life that God gives you and that you call your own, offers way too many spectacular possibilities than can be predicted, or worse, dictated by loving and well-intended Greek parents.”
In his address, Mr. Tomaras thanked the many supporters who have helped the Foundation achieve its goal of providing annually a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships to deserving students. He also informed guests that the new Hellenic Birthright program was well underway, as 15 participants ages 18-25, were on their way on Sunday, June 17th embarking on “a journey of a lifetime.” Hellenic Birthright is a cultural enrichment and study abroad program for Greek American college students that have never been to Greece, sponsored by the Foundation, and created in collaboration with the American College of Thessaloniki. He thanked all Donors, in particular the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their continued support of the Foundation’s scholarship program and for their major contribution as a Premier Founding Sponsor of Hellenic Birthright.
In looking forward to the next ten years, Mr. Tomaras outlined the Foundation’s plans to establish scholarship programs that will support students throughout their four-year education; expand the scholarship program to graduate students and create educational and leadership programs that will engage and attract not only past scholarship recipients, but also other interested college students.
“These new goals are a considerable challenge for the PanHellenic Foundation, but they must be met,” said Mr. Tomaras. “To that end, we are exploring a number of initiatives including the establishment of an endowment fund. This is a major undertaking, one that will ensure the legacy of the Foundation lives on. Together, we will make these goals a reality,” continued Mr. Tomaras.
Mr. Tomaras concluded his remarks by thanking the Board of Directors, Advisory Board members and the dedicated team of professionals who make it possible for the Foundation to stay on course. Following the Awards Ceremony, guests experienced a magnificent dinner and enjoyed the uplifting, energetic entertainment of Petros Gaitanos.
2012 PanHellenic Scholarship Award Recipients:
Antonio Anagnostopoulos – Loyola University – Chicago
Melpomeni Arianas – University of Illinois at Chicago
Anna Baboulas – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Zacharias Bouras – University of Chicago
Teresa Bozikis – Northern Illinois University
Theresa Chresand – University of Minnesota
Eleni Christou – University of Florida
Agnes Dardas – Harvard University
Nicholas Demas – Yale University
Edward Fancher – New York University
Stergios Gatzoflias – Northeastern University
Vasiliki Giannakakos – Cornell University
Alexander Gruebele – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Yvonne Hajaj – Youngstown State University
Demitrios Haldes – University of Notre Dame
Cleopatra Haviaras – CUNY Queens College
Andrew Kalina – Harvard University
Mary Kamos – Loyola University – Maryland
Evangelos Kustubardis – Stevens Institute of Technology
Nicholas Lambert – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Melissa Likiardopoulos – Hellenic College
Alexandra Mullenax – University of Florida
Vassiliki Papagermanos – Barnard College at Columbia University
Enji Papazisi – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Efthimia Peiralis – DePaul University
Elia Pepps – Millikin University
Demetra Perry – Cornell University
Anna Petrides – Pennsylvania State University
Petros Petridis – Columbia University
Katerina Rallis – Elmhurst College
Jenny Sampras – University of Illinois at Chicago
John Secaras – Northwestern University
Theodora Skeadas – Harvard University
Andrew Sotiriou – Yale University
George Sotos – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lydia Souroufis – Boston University
Evan Tassis – Johns Hopkins University
George Touloumes – Princeton University
Ted Vlahos – Loyola University – Chicago
Neil Vranis – Johns Hopkins University