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The 2014 Panhellenic Scholarship Foundation Awards Gala
With close to 500 supporters in attendance, the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation (PHSF) recognized the outstanding academic accomplishments of 40 exceptional Greek American undergraduates at the 2014 Gala held in the International Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago on Saturday, June 14, 2014. A total of $250,000 in scholarship and merit awards were presented to recipients from across the country, attending such prestigious universities as Stanford, Dartmouth, MIT, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago.
“This year’s recipients brought pride and honor to the Greek American Community as have all of our scholarship recipients,” said Chris P. Tomaras, Founder and Chairman of the PHSF. “When we began the mission of promoting education through scholarships, cultural enrichment programs and leadership building, I never imagined that we would have awarded a total of $2 million to 264 outstanding undergraduates. All of our recipients have demonstrated remarkable academic excellence. We are very proud of their accomplishments.”
Pete Zervakis, reporter for the ABC television affiliate, WKOW in Madison, Wisconsin, was Master of Ceremonies. A 2008 PanHellenic scholarship recipient, Pete Zervakis shared his personal story of how the scholarship changed his life. For Pete, it was a full circle moment that inspired all of the recipients in attendance.
Executive Director of the Foundation, Yanni Valsamas, thanked Mr. Tomaras in his remarks for his untiring efforts by saying: “Mr. Tomaras, your commitment to educating youth has led you to make the kinds of personal sacrifices and fiscal contributions one would expect in a great leader.” Following his remarks, Mr. Valsamas began the Awards Ceremony by calling to the stage each of the 2014 recipients. Presenting the awards were Mr. Tomaras and Dr. George Alexopoulos, Chairman of the Foundation’s Academic Committee. One by one the proud recipients received their certificate and award, pausing for photographs by family and friends.
Thanking the Foundation on behalf of this year’s recipients was Dimitrios Nikitopoulos, a freshman at Johns Hopkins University pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Robotics. “We share the pride of a rich heritage…We share the pride of a rich religious identity…We share the pride of a culture that stresses the importance of hard work, conviction, and love of family. This is a culture of values and principles practiced by our parents and grandparents and conveyed to us by them through our upbringing.” He concluded his remarks by expressing that each of the students share in the pride and honor of being a PanHellenic Scholar.
The Foundations’ 2014 Paradigm Award was bestowed to James D. Speros, Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Fidelity Investments. Mr. Speros delivered a powerful speech with advice to the scholarship recipients urging them to be proud of their name and carry it responsibly, with honor and respect, while always applying in their daily lives the values of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
A number of Church and Community leaders attended the event that included Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, Consul General of Greece in Chicago Ioanna Efthymiadou, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Judge Paul Lillios, Judge James Booras, Judge Louis Apostle, the Provost of Deree College, Dr. Thimios Zaharopoulos, and several educational and business personalities and members of the press.
“I am truly grateful to our donors, guests, Mr. James D. Speros and our recipients who made the 2014 Awards Ceremony and Gala not only a successful fundraiser, but an enjoyable, uplifting evening,” said Chris Tomaras. “Pride and Honor were at the core of this event as we are very proud of the significant accomplishments our PanHellenic Scholars have made and will continue to make as life-long achievers. We honor them and wish them success and happiness as they pursue their career goals. Our goal is to continue to expand our mission. Let us make the investment in the talents of our young people, so that we may continue our great legacy of education and the pursuit of excellence,” encouraged Mr. Tomaras.
With the conclusion of the Awards Ceremony, guests enjoyed delicious appetizers and dinner, with musical entertainment by the Hellenic 5 Orchestra and the songs of Babis Tsertos, who came from Greece exclusively for this event and offered his performance pro-bono.
The Foundation expresses a special thanks to all of the donors who took part in the Chairman’s Challenge initiative. Among them, the Premier Benefactors who each provided a $10,000 scholarship. “We are deeply indebted to everyone for their donation whether large or small. Together, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of Greek American college students who will become life-long significant achievers” said Mr. Tomaras.
For more information on the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation’s programs and initiatives their website is panhellenicscholaships.org and phone, 312-357-6432.