June 20, 2018, Chicago, IL – On Saturday, June 16, 2018 the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation held its annual Awards Ceremony & Gala at the Hilton Chicago. The PanHellenic broke a new record this year by awarding 45 talented Greek American undergraduates with a total of $260,000 in scholarship awards.
Celebrations began on Friday, June 15 with an Alumni Weekend Welcome Reception at Holland & Knight courtesy of the Foundation’s pro bono counsel, Elias Matsakis and co-sponsored by College Year in Athens. 2018 Recipients, PanHellenic Alumni, and other Greek American young professionals enjoyed food and drinks while admiring the beautiful Chicago skyline.
Saturday morning, 2018 Recipients, PanHellenic Alumni, and other young professionals met at the Racquet Club of Chicago for our 2nd Annual Mentorship Luncheon graciously hosted by Nick Alexos and sponsored by The Hellenic Initiative. Over lunch, students engaged in meaningful advising from an impressive group of mentors. Mentors included: Nicholas W. Alexos, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, DENTSPLY SIRONA Inc.; Michael Konidaris, Principal Economist, Macroeconomic Advisers by IHS Markit; Stephen J. Livaditis, Managing Director-Eastdil Secured, LLC; Doretta Mistras, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs; Tim S. Provias, MD, MPH, Interventional Cardiology Specialist, Northwestern Medicine; Evonne Sepsis, Managing Director and Founder, ESC Advisors; Georgia Giakoumis Spear, MD, Chief of the Department of Breast Imaging, NorthShore University; Maria Spiropulu, PHD, Shang-Yi Ch’en Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology; Gregory Tsonis, ESQ, Litigation Associate, Kirkland & Ellis; and Eric Vassilatos, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Vivid Seats. After lunch was served, keynote speaker, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael, gave a powerful speech encouraging millennials to continue their good works and giving back to the community.
Saturday evening began with the Awards Ceremony. Trish Christakes and Pete Zervakis served as Mistress and Master of Ceremonies. Trish and Pete are both previous PanHellenic Award recipients who understand the importance of giving back and staying involved with the Foundation. They described the impact their scholarships have had on their lives, and they did an excellent job emceeing the event.
John Manos, Treasurer and Trustee of the PanHellenic, conducted the Awards Ceremony for the 2018 Scholarship Recipients. Presenting the awards were Dr. Constantine Georgakis, Chairman of the Academic Committee and Robert A. Buhler, Chairman and Trustee. The Foundation was overjoyed to award such an impressive group of young Greek Americans this year.
Following the Awards Ceremony, the PanHellenic featured its exclusive Gala video showing how the Foundation provides more than just financial aid to students, hence our 2018 Gala theme – “Beyond a Scholarship.” The video features 2007 Scholarship Recipient Demi Giannaras, speaking to her close relationship with the PanHellenic, her friendship with our beloved late Founder, Chris P. Tomaras and how it has influenced her life.
Mr. Buhler then presented the Chairman’s Report, describing how the PanHellenic will continue to go “Beyond a Scholarship” and provide our scholars with more opportunities. Mr. Buhler also unveiled our new giving program called Scholarship Society. This unique program allows donors to pledge one $10,000 scholarship each year for 5 or 10 years, while enjoying a closer connection to the Foundation and their scholars.
This year’s Paradigm Honoree was renowned public servant and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Presenting the Award this year was Athan P. Sotos, Secretary and Trustee of the PanHellenic. Mr. Sotos explained that the Paradigm presentation was always the apex of the Awards Ceremony for Mr. Tomaras because this was the chance to truly inspire our recipients.
Mr. Priebus gave a passionate speech about how Hellenic values such as faith, family, and philotimo set Greek Americans apart and truly enhance the fabric of American society. He recalled his childhood and how his Hellenic upbringing truly propelled him in life. Mr. Priebus reminded us that even though our parents and grandparents came to this country with very little, they all came looking for the same set of freedoms that are entitled to all people. No matter what our differences are we are bound together by our love of freedom. At the end of his speech, Mr. Priebus reminded scholars that they must go forward through life in service of one another, to never let their talents go to waste, and as they continue on, their education will help them reach their highest goals and help advance society.
Following the Paradigm Presentation, the Foundation honored two generous sets of donors who have already fulfilled their Scholarship Society pledges, with contributions totaling $100,000 or more. Honored were Jimmy and Eleni Bousis as well as John and Mary Pappajohn. Both contributed over $100,000 to the Foundation since its inception.
Following the Awards Ceremony guests enjoyed cocktails in the Hilton’s beautiful Normandie Lounge, and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner served in the Grand Ballroom. Scholars then opened the dance floor by leading the first dance with incredible entertainment provided by Yanni Papastefanou & Orchestra, featuring Helena Panayi & Roula Vassos who all traveled to Chicago from New York.
All photos courtesy of Sofia Spentzas – Spiral Art Design