Greek-American Investor Tells Students: ‘Know Where You Came From’

John Calamos Sr. speaking to graduating students. (Photo by Caroline Alden Photography courtesy of Hellenic College Holy Cross.)

Greek-American investor and self-made billionaire John Calamos Sr. has told hundreds of graduating students from an Orthodox theological college in Massachusetts: “You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you came from.”

Calamos, who grew up in an immigrant Greek family in Chicago, was speaking after being awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.

In a wide-ranging address, he told students he had been the first in his family to go to university: “Our family values and strong work ethic was very valuable to me.”

“I worked my way through college. A very confused student, I changed my major several times.

“When I was a student at Illinois Institute of Technology studying architecture and switching to finance, it was all about critical thinking.

“When I was in college I gained knowledge about the history of the world through philosophy.

“Looking back, my education was critical to my success over the years.”

Graduating students. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Alden Photography).

Calamos, now a mutual-fund manager and a self-made billionaire, also served as a combat pilot in Vietnam.

Describing some of the dangerous missions he undertook, Calamos said these “critical experiences” motivated him to remember his Orthodox faith:

“Remembering my prayers from Sunday school I began praying every day. In combat you make many life-and-death decisions. I still thank the Lord for bringing me home safe and helping me make the right decisions at critical times.”

Emphasizing the importance of faith to the class of 2018, Calamos added: “As you received your degree today, what you are doing going forward into the ministry is extremely important.

“I commend you for doing that and encourage you to teach the younger generation the importance of faith, whether you go into the ministry or not.”

(Photo courtesy of Caroline Alden Photography)