Meet the 2016-2017 Scholarship Award Recipients
From its inception, one of our Club’s goals has been to award scholarships to worthy students of Greek descent from the Greater Philadelphia area. For the 2016-2017 year, we awarded $48,500 in scholarships to twelve undergraduate and five graduate students. To date, we have awarded $665,500 to 312 worthy recipients – a wonderful and praiseworthy accomplishment.
The Dr. Michael Dorizas Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship, in the amount of $3,000, honors a widely respected educator, lecturer and athlete. Charissa Skoutelas of Glen Mills, PA received this award.
Charissa Skoutelas graduated from Garnet Valley High School ranking 14th of 382 students. She received the National Honor Society and French Honor Society Awards, as well as being named an AP Scholar with Honors. Charissa is a section leader of her high school marching and concert band, and leader of the flute ensemble. She was inducted into the Tri-M Music Honors Society. Last summer, Charissa participated in the American Music Abroad Silver Tour, an honors band musical tour of Europe. Outside the classroom, Charissa devoted much time to volunteer and community service. She was a member and coordinator of Interact community service club, and actively involved in Students Against Destructive Decisions. Active in her parish of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Media, Charissa is a member of the church choir, recording secretary for the church youth group, GOYA, member of the basketball team and Greek folk dance group. She was awarded the Metropolitan Evangelos Ambassador of Love Award, and the Saint Stephen Service Award. In the summer of 2014, Charissa traveled to Kodiak, Alaska, as part of an OCMC Mission Trip to Saint Herman’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, where she worked to clean up the seminary and teach young children about faith. Charissa will be attending the Pennsylvania State University, Schreyer’s Honor College, where she plans to major in education and history.
The Founders Scholarship, in the amount of $3,000, honors the deceased founders of the Hellenic University Club of Philadelphia. Panos Skoutelas of Glen Mills, PA received this award.
Panos Skoutelas graduated from Garnet Valley High School ranking 4th of 382 students. His outstanding scholastic and academic achievements culminated in the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, and Distinguished Honor Roll awards. In addition, he was named a Commended National Merit Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Panos was a member of his high-school marching band all four years, and was inducted into the Tri-M Music Honors Society. Panos participated in a variety of community service opportunities, including organizing a fundraiser last year to sponsor a child in the Philippines, and dancing in MiniThon to help raise money for children with cancer. Active in his faith, Panos is an altar server at his parish of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Media. His faith and service ideals were strengthened during mission trips to Alaska and Montana. Through OCMC, he helped clean and maintain Saint Herman’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska, and held a Bible camp for local children. And his YOCAMA Mission Trip in Browning, Montana involved building a playground fence for Native American children on the Blackfeet Reservation. He was Vice President of his church youth group, GOYA, and captain of his church basketball team. He is recipient of several awards, including the Metropolitan Evangelos Ambassador of Faith Award, and the Saint Stephen Service Award. Panos will be attending the University of Maryland Honors College where he plans to major in the biological sciences, while enriching his college experience with research, mission work, and studies abroad.
The Paideia Merit Scholarship for a child of a Club member is in the amount of $3,000. Academic excellence is the primary consideration. The parents must be current members of the Club for at least three years. This year the Paideia Scholarship was awarded to Alexander Koch of Merion, PA.
Alexander Koch graduated from Lower Merion High School as a member of the National Honor Society in a challenging Honors and Advanced Placement curriculum. He was very active outside of the classroom, too. Alexander was a four-year varsity cross-country runner and varsity baseball player, serving as co-captain of the baseball team for his senior year. In addition, he was a peer leader for incoming freshman and a three-year member of Best Buddies (to assist mentally challenged students). With all of these activities, Alexander still managed to develop his artistic talent as a four-year member of the Art Forum, where he has learned the values of patience, focus, perseverance and determination. He has also worked as a dishwasher, restaurant busser, and pizza delivery boy. These experiences have kept him humble and grounded and appreciative of all that he has. Alexander will attend Indiana University, where he plans to pursue a degree in Business.
The Goldie S. Vastardis Memorial Scholarship is funded by a grant from Louis Vastardis in memory of his wife. This merit scholarship in the amount of $2,000 is awarded to a student whose parents or grandparents are stewards of St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, PA. The scholarship was awarded to Christina Zografakis of Broomall, PA.
Christina Zografakis graduated from Marple Newton High School as a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honors Society, while taking a very demanding course load of all Honors and Advanced Placement classes. She actually began taking high school level courses in Mathematics and Spanish in 7th grade. Christina still found time for extracurricular and volunteer activities too numerous to mention here, but including: four-year member of the Students’ Council, Vice President of the SPCA Club, and Recording Secretary for GOYA. Most notably, she has been a four-year member of the Touch of Class Competition Team and has become an accomplished dancer in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and production numbers. This led to her becoming a member of the Philadelphia 76ers pre-pro team, performing at their games, as well as games for the Philadelphia Wings and the Harlem Globetrotters. Christina’s talent even led to a dance role in the 2010 film Standing Ovation (when she was in the 6th grade!). Not surprisingly, she has won many first place awards in Sights & Sounds competitions. Christina has also won the AHEPA Medal twice in her Greek School career, as well as the Ambassador of Peace Award in GOYA. She wishes to become a Pharmacist and will begin working toward that goal as an undergraduate at Temple University this fall.
The Dimitri J. Ververelli Memorial Scholarship is offered to a student pursuing a degree in the fields of Architecture or Engineering. This scholarship, in the amount of $2,000, was established in 2006 by Mrs. Anastasia Ververelli to honor her husband, Dimitri, past president of the Club. The scholarship was awarded to Annina Baker of Wayne, PA.
Annina Baker is a rising senior student of Mechanical Engineering at Villanova University. She focuses her studies on Dynamic Systems and Controls and Mechatronics. She is currently participating as a Research Assistant and Student Manager at Teledyne Marine Systems in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This is a well-known company that focuses on underwater acoustics, sonars, remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles. Annina is the co-designer of MATE’s automatic Text Message Alert System and was invited to present and implement her technology at the Regional and International MATE competitions. Annina is a member of "Villanova Voices", the Villanova University Women's Choir. She is also the Founder and Creator of the "Princess Project". From October 2011 the goal of this effort is to visit as fairy tale princesses and perform for hospitalized, special needs, and underprivileged children and inspire them to follow their dreams while maintaining integrity and selflessness.
The Theresa A. Chletcos Memorial Scholarship is offered to a qualified student pursuing an undergraduate degree in the field of education. Established in 2013, this award honors past president and founding member, Theresa A. Chletcos. This scholarship is funded through a bequest of Theresa A. Chletcos and her friends and family. The scholarship, in the amount of $2,000, was presented to Ioanna Yiantsos of Cheltenham, PA.
Ioanna Yiantsos just finished her junior year at Temple University, majoring in cell & molecular biology and minoring in psychology. Despite taking the most demanding science courses offered at Temple, she has excelled. A 2013 graduate of Cheltenham High School, Ioanna was the Drum Major there. According to a very reliable source, when the faculty director of the marching band left at the beginning of her senior year, she demonstrated leadership by becoming the de facto director. With such a demanding course load at Temple, it is hard to imagine Ioanna could find time for outside activities, but she has. She was in Temple’s marching band for two years and has been secretary and now president of the Pan-Macedonian Society and captain of its professional dance troupe. Ioanna teaches Greek dance at both Annunciation and St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Churches and still makes time to work at her father’s snack shop. Most importantly, Professor Glenn Rall at Fox Chase Cancer Center says “she has become the most dedicated and hardworking student I’ve trained in my 20 years”. In her role as his lab assistant, she has already become a co-author of a published scholarly research article. After earning her degree from Temple, Ioanna hopes to earn a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and conduct research that will benefit stroke and Alzheimer’s patients.
Christopher Demetris Memorial Scholarship established by Jack and Dolly Demetris in memory of their son Christopher. The Christopher Demetris Memorial Scholarship for $2,000 was given to Maria Raggousis of Bensalem, PA.
With her roots in Bensalem, PA, Maria Raggousis is currently attending Drexel University and will be in her fourth year of an accelerated five-year program to a combined Bachelor and Master of Science in Architectural and Civil Engineering. Maria’s confidence and passion allow her to excel both in school and in the workplace where she hopes to become part of the solution for the world's infrastructure and looks to a more sustainable future. She has had two internships as part of her college experience working with a general contractor and consultant engineering firm and hopes to keep the momentum going into a full-time career. Maria's involvement on-and-off campus includes leadership in professional organizations to performing in various music groups throughout the Philadelphia area. Her leadership with the professional societies of Drexel include working with K-12 Outreach for the Society of Women Engineers; President of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honors Society; and Secretary/Treasurer for Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering Honors Society. When not immersed in school or work, Maria relaxes with music by playing flute, saxophone, and vibraphone in Jazz, Fusion, and Chamber Winds ensembles. She is an advocate for both visual and performing arts and loves to think creatively, even while pursuing technical careers.
The George C. Liacouras Memorial Scholarship is offered to a student pursuing an undergraduate degree at the Wharton School or the College of the University of Pennsylvania. This scholarship was established by Mrs. Effie Liacouras to honor her husband, George C. Liacouras. The award in the amount of $5,000 was presented to Marina Tsikouras of Philadelphia, PA.
Marina Tsikouras is a student at the University of Pennsylvania in the Huntsman Program for International Studies and Business, a dual degree program between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School. Her concentrations in the Wharton School include Real Estate, Marketing and Operations, and Social Impact and Responsibility. In the College of Arts and Sciences, Renee is majoring in International Studies, with a minor in French Studies and Urban Studies. Her proficiency in the French language and her interest in French culture were demonstrated in the fall semester, 2015, when Marina participated in a study abroad program at Sciences Po Lyon. There she directly enrolled in political science and international development courses. Marina has a strong interest in international educational development and urban planning. This summer she will be an intern at J.P. Morgan’s Public Finance Division, where she hopes to increase her knowledge of public policy and finance. Marina grew up in Philadelphia. She attended Merion Mercy Academy, where she distinguished herself as a student. She expects to graduate from Penn in May 2017.
The Chios Liberation Memorial Scholarship is offered by the Chios Society of Philadelphia to a student of Chian descent in memory of all those who gave their lives for the liberation of Chios. The Scholarship, in the amount of $2,000, was presented to Timothy Daly of Lancaster, PA.
Timothy Daly is a student at the Schreyer Honors College and Smeal College of Business of the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. He will be receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Management with a minor in the Legal Environment of Business and a concurrent Bachelor of Arts degree in Labor and Employment Relations in May 2017. He is also working toward an integrated Master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations, which he anticipates completing in the spring of 2018. He has made the Dean’s List every semester. His leadership and entrepreneurial skills are amply demonstrated by the many activities in which he has participated over the years. These include leadership roles in Christian Orthodox Fellowship, the Penn State Shaping the Future Summit, Penn State Schreyer Honors College Freshman Orientation, as well as leadership in developing a business plan for a local start-up and co-founding Dr. Tattaway Laser Hair and Tattoo Removal, a business in Bethlehem, PA. Timothy’s grandmother was born in Nenita, Chios.
The Chios Society of Philadelphia “Koraes” Scholarship is offered to students of Chian descent in memory and honor of past and present leaders and members of the Chios Society of Philadelphia. The Scholarship, in the amount of $2,000, was presented to Renee Harris of Drexel Hill, PA.
Renee Harris earned her B.A. in chemistry at Barnard College as a Howard Hughes Pipeline Award Recipient and then went on to earn a M.S. degree in chemistry at Temple University. She is currently an accelerated nursing student at Penn where she will be completing her B.S.N. and M.S.N. degrees before pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing at Penn. Renee has been a dedicated student and scientific researcher. For about two years, she worked as a Research Assistant at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY. Renee has been the recipient of eight scholarships and has two presentations and one published paper. Renee has demonstrated a marked interest in patient advocacy and teaching. She has a strong interest in the care of disabled clients and their families, which she has demonstrated through her work at the Office of Disability Services at Columbia University and Access Services, Inc. She is also interested in veteran's healthcare; especially in creating healthcare opportunities for homeless, psychologically, and physically impaired veterans. One of Renee’s main nursing goals is to work in the area of nurse anesthesia. Renee is of Chian and Cypriot descent.
The Cyprus Society Scholarship, funded by the Cyprus Society of Greater Philadelphia, is offered to a student whose family are members in good standing of the Cyprus Society for the past three years. Academic excellence is the primary consideration for this $2,000 award, which was presented to Vasiliki Christou of Garnet Valley, PA.
Vasiliki Christou (“Soula”, as she is affectionately called) graduated from Garnet Valley High School and just completed her first year at the University of Maryland. This dedicated scholar is focused on a career in dentistry. In addition to making Dean’s List, Soula was invited to join the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and she is a member of the Student Dental Advisory Board. Soula was a peer mentor this year for other students in her Principles of Biology course and she contributed to her collegiate community by assisting families who are not able to afford dental hygiene products. At an early age, Soula quickly learned what Paideia means in a Greek Cypriot household attending Greek School, becoming a leader in GOYA, and a member of the Greek Dance Troupe. Not surprisingly, Soula is fluent in Greek and in Spanish and somehow she has made time to play and practice two instruments, piano and flute, and participate on several sports teams including soccer, softball, gymnastics, volleyball and track. To indulge in what super busy girls call “relaxation”, Soula works out with other young ladies in a group at Maryland called CHAARG whose focus is developing a healthy mind/body and spirit through positivity and motivational optimism.
The John S. Vodantis Memorial Scholarship for Greek Studies in the amount of $5,000 is awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in Greek Studies, Classics, Classical Archaeology, and/or Ancient History. Recipients do not have to be of Greek descent. This award honors Past President and Emeritus Member John S. Vodantis and is funded by his wife Hope and donations from his family and friends. The award was presented to Victoria Szafara of Philadelphia, PA.
Victoria Szafara will be graduating a year from now with a B.A. in Classics and Art History and a minor in German. As a Presidential Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Eta Sigma Phi Classics Honor Societies, and the founding member of the Temple University Undergraduate Art History Guild, Victoria has earned a full academic scholarship and three academic stipends while pursuing her degree at Temple University. It is not surprising that Victoria was Valedictorian of her class at Nazareth Academy High School. While in grade school, Victoria visited the Philadelphia National Liberty Museum where she purchased a memento, a shirt with a quote from Thales, the Father of Natural Philosophy. She quickly outgrew the shirt but the quote has helped to direct her life-long pursuit of Paideia and her academic goals. Thales is quoted as saying, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what will become of me? If not now, when?’ Victoria went to college thinking she would major in the sciences and pursue medicine but quickly discovered her passion – classics, ancient history and archaeology. She interned and ultimately was employed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Education Department and at the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology where she helps educate others about Hellenism and her classical passions.
The Padis Memorial Graduate Scholarship is awarded to a senior undergradate or graduate student pursuing a graduate degree full-time at an accredited university or professional school. Academic excellence is the primary consideration for this scholarship. Established in 1986, this annual award honors Philadelphia physician, first president and founding member of the Club, Dr. Nicholas Padis. The Dr. Nicholas Padis Memorial Graduate Scholarship for $5,000 was presented to Georgianna Sandilos of Ambler, PA.
Georgianna Sandilos received her B.S. degree in Biological Sciences summa cum laude from Drexel University in 2015. During her studies, she had the distinction of starting as a STAR student, this is an elite program for high achieving freshmen who are invited to join a research group in the first year of their studies. Georgianna also became a member of the Drexel EMS squad and is on the Executive Board of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. She volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Fox Chase Cancer Center. In 2015, Georgianna started the medical degree portion of the seven-year BS/MD program at the Drexel College of Medicine and she has declared her specialization in Emergency Medicine and Infectious Disease. She continues to volunteer in various clinics around Philadelphia and is the President of the Transplant Surgery Observation Program for the upcoming 2016-2017 year. Georgianna plays the piano and the violin and enjoys hiking and reading.
The Dr. Peter A. Theodos Memorial Graduate Scholarship in the amount of $1,500 is awarded to a senior undergraduate or graduate student pursuing studies leading to a Doctor of Medicine degree. This annual award honors Philadelphia physician, past president and founding member of the Club, Dr. Peter A. Theodos. This scholarship is funded by his wife Marcella Theodos and was presented to Gia Yannekis of Philadelphia, PA.
Gia Yannekis is a third year student in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2013 with a B.A. in Sociology. She was on the Dean’s List every semester in college and received honors for her senior thesis. While attending Barnard, Gia had an extraordinary record of student service, which included serving as Head Barnard Student Admissions Representative, a liaison between school administrators and students; a volunteer for community outreach programs such as the Bronx Family Outreach Center; and as a mentor for Harlem youth. She was also an Elizabeth Blackwell Society Mentorship chair and a Medical Students for Choice co-chair. Gia’s outstanding service to Barnard earned her receipt of a Community Impact Star Volunteer Award in 2010. Gia also found the time to do a study abroad program in International Health and Development at University College, London. After graduating from Barnard, Gia spent one year as an AmeriCorps Community Health Corps member in Boston, where she worked with over-weight youth. Since starting at Penn Med, Gia has continued her community service. She works as a clinical volunteer at Puentes de Salud, a medical clinic that provides outpatient medical care to Spanish-speaking immigrant patients. She also engages in cancer research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Despite her involvement in these and other activities, Gia’s academic performance at Penn Med puts her at the top of her class. In the future, Gia hopes to provide maternal and child health services to vulnerable urban populations and to mentor the next generation of female medical leaders.
The Maria Galanos Hetos Graduate Scholarship is awarded to a student of Greek descent, with demonstrated financial need, who will use this scholarship to matriculate in a graduate (master’s or doctoral level) degree program in the field of education or in education-related studies in other disciplines (e.g. school psychological testing, learning technology, educational leadership/management, school/counseling psychology). Established in 2011, this annual award is funded by Maria Galanos Hetos, EdD, Hellenic University Club of Philadelphia past president, and wife of past president and founding member, Nicholas S. Hetos, D.D.S. in the amount of $2,000. This year’s recipient is Mary Weston.
A literature major at Bard College, Mary Weston graduated four years ago. After graduating, Mary first worked for AmeriCorps VISTA in Philadelphia as a Mentor Program Coordinator for The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. She then gained experience as an afterschool teacher and a summer school teacher at the Henry C. Lea Elementary School in Philadelphia. Mary was also a General Education Development tutor in Philadelphia, helping adults earn Certificates of High School Equivalency. These experiences have raised her awareness that the poor and underprivileged in our society do not have equal access to education. However, Mary knows good teachers can overcome some of the barriers to learning in challenged school districts and foster personal and intellectual growth. To her, pursuit of Paideia means that all of us benefit when children have access to quality education. Mary’s career objective is to teach literature at the high school level. She will be working toward that goal by pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching at Brown University.
The John S. Manos Esquire Memorial Graduate Scholarship, in the amount of $2,000, is awarded to a senior undergraduate or graduate student with financial need pursuing studies leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree. Established in 2009, this annual award honors John Stanley Manos, Esquire, Philadelphia lawyer and long-time member of the Club. This scholarship is funded by the John S. Manos Memorial Scholarship Fund and was presented to Dorothy Hazan of Wayne, PA.
Dorothy Hazan graduated from Union College with a Bachelor of Science Degree as a double major in Psychology and English. On the Dean’s List throughout, she is a member of the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta, the Psychology Honors Society, Psi Chi, and was recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences in the United States. Dorothy is co-founder and president of the Union College Pre-Law Society, and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, an international co-educational service fraternity. Dorothy applied her writing and critical analysis skills as a Communications Department intern at both Union College and the Public Health Management Corporation in Philadelphia. In May 2014, she was awarded the Eugene I. Yudis prize for best prose fiction. Dorothy’s work with a sociology professor who previously worked as a child advocate in Washington, DC, and her assignment as an intern in the Victim and Witness Services unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office solidified her aspiration to a career in public interest law. Dorothy has chosen to attend the University of Pennsylvania Law School because of their commitment to public interest and pro bono work. After graduation, she hopes to apply her passion for helping others to a career advocating for families, youth and victims of domestic violence.
The Kathleen and Nicholas Fisfis Graduate Scholarship, in the amount of $5,000, is awarded to a qualifying senior undergraduate or graduate student of Greek descent with financial need pursuing studies leading to a graduate or post-graduate degree in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine (STEMM). Established in 2016, this annual award is funded by Kathleen and Nicholas Fisfis. This year’s recipient is James Tur.
James Tur arrived in Camden, N.J. to pursue a medical degree at Cooper Medical at Rowan University six years after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in physics and mathematics. James thought that college would be where he would discover and structure his path toward a life-long career. That didn’t happen and as a matter of fact he discovered quite the opposite that even though he loved multiple scientific disciplines, he definitely did not want to be a physicist or a mathematician. After graduating from college, James spent the next four years evolving into an amazing teacher and tutor who connected authentically with less fortunate individuals and those suffering from mental illness. In the summer of 2010, while volunteering with an organization that provides medical care to the homeless, James decided he had to become a doctor so he could provide quality care to a huge segment of the population that rarely received compassion, let alone medical attention. From 2012 to 2014, while teaching fulltime, James became the program coordinator and electronic medical records coordinator for Doctors Without Walls, Santa Barbara Street Medicine. In his first year at Cooper Medical, James became the founder of the highly successful Street Medicine Initiative in which Cooper students and physicians work as volunteers to bring medical care to the large homeless community in Camden. James has found his calling as a medical student at Cooper. James’ recommender wrote that “medical students are typically high academic achievers, meritorious students with outstanding academic skills. James certainly has these qualities in spades, but what really sets him apart is his exceptional sense of civic and social engagement, his leadership skills, his personal drive and his ability to translate these qualities into thoughtful action to improve the world around him.”