Alumna Profiled: Gina Thanopoulou
Graduated: Deree (’88)
Lives in: Athens – Greece
Current Position: Counseling Psychologist, Psycho-educational Counselor, Lecturer
“Try to turn your attention to your inner self and listen clearly to your inner voice, because it can give you amazing treasures. The value of life is inside, so when we listen to our inner self, we get amazing guidance.”
GINA THANOPOULOU was born in Athens, Greece and graduated from Deree in 1988, majoring in history, with a minor in psychology. Graduating with the highest distinction, summa cum laude, Gina was also chosen to be valedictorian. She earned her Master’s degree inPsychology, Counseling & Theater Education from Emerson College in 1992, followed by her Ed. M in Psycho-educational Counseling, Risk and Prevention Psychology from Harvard University in 1994. Following her studies, Gina returned to Greece where she helped set up, coordinate and worked as a counseling psychologist at Pierce – ACG’s Centre of Counseling & Career Services from 1994-1997. She also worked for 17 years (1999 – 2016) as the Director of the Center for Counseling & Learning Services of the International School of Athens (ISA, formerly-known as TASIS). Gina Thanopoulou maintains her private practice as a counseling/educational psychologist to children, adolescents, adults, parents, families & couples, and also collaborates with Athens Medical Partners. She also serves as a guest lecturer at Deree – ACG, as well as at Panteion University, the University of Piraeus’s department of Business and Financial Management, and at various other cultural, charitable and educational foundations in Greece and abroad. She also writes on psychological issues online at Huffingtonpost.gr and at Thriveglobal.gr, and also delivers scientific seminars and presentations nationally and abroad. She was awarded for her multiple volunteer services in counselling and supporting children in need from UNESCO’s Greek Chapter in 2016.
Q: What are three enduring values Deree has taught you?
Deree taught me to collaborate; it also instilled in me, or rather augmented, my love for learning, while it enhanced my belief in my inner value.
I also gained a lot of inspiration from my professors, such as Wayne Burke. He was an amazing professor in public speaking. I found inspiration and how to find your inner voice, and follow who you are inside. While studying History and Psychology at Deree, I was also a student at a Greek university – the University of Athens’ School of Philosophy – as well as at the National Theater of Greece’s Drama School, which I also finished with honors. I also learned a lot about ethics at Deree. I learned a lot from Deree History Professor Panayiotis Zaronis, who instilled in me an even greater appreciation for history. He was an amazing professor; he was loved by many.
Q: How would you describe Deree in three words?
Love for learning.
Belief in inner value.
Q: What is your fondest memory from your time at Deree?
Of course, when I was a valedictorian, addressing a huge room of many students, delivering the valedictorian speech and the late Dr.Bailey gave me an award; it was very moving. I graduated with some great fellow students. I felt very proud to have been chosen as valedictorian.
Q: What do you miss the most from your days at Deree?
I miss some inspiring professors, like Professor Zaronis, Professor Burke, and others, and I remember the comradery in the cafeteria, the music that my friend Jimmy Kyritsis played; I miss that sense of belonging.
Q: If you could go back in time, is there anything that you would do differently?
I would be more involved in the many services to the community, and would be involved in showing how important and valuable Deree is. The college has enormous value, and teaches value in a unique way to students. I think it’s important to be an advocate for Deree, to speak up for what it does and offers.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus?
I really enjoyed Dance class, and the Dance Hall was my favorite place. I was also on the student affairs committee and enjoyed getting together with members in the cafeteria, of course.
Q: Who was your favorite teacher and why?
I deeply admired Professor Burke, Professor Zaronis, and Professor Houndoumadi and learned a great deal from them.
Q: After graduation, you have maintained a relationship with your school and classmates.
I have stayed in touch with some. I am also currently teaching a graduate seminar at Deree. As you know, I also worked at Pierce for four years, and was fortunate to have Dr. Bailey trust me with the role of coordinator of Pierce –ACG’s Center for Counseling & Career Services, which we built from scratch, and offered our services to students, parents, and teachers. It was innovative and groundbreaking for its time.
Q: Looking back, how did your time at Deree help you become the person you are today?
It gave me 100 per cent confidence in myself, to raise my voice, to learn to trust my inner voice, be who I am, and instilled in me the importance of communication, collaboration, and a love of learning.
Q: What advice would you give a new Deree student?
I would say take advantage of all the things that Deree offers, e.g., the unique John S. Bailey Library – which is tremendously valuable – also get involved in community service, and in extracurricular activities for the community.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration because I am a counselor of psychology, from my books, and I do a lot of spiritual things. I was lucky to train with Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman, my advisor when I was at Harvard University. I was very fortunate to be his teacher assistant, and I learned a great deal from him – amazing knowledge that I treasure, such as the three key values, the balance of body, mind and spirt. An emotionally intelligent person is one who combines mind, body, spirit balance. I am inspired by what he taught me about the value of empathy. That’s why I got into psychoeducational counseling. I feel with you, not for you. It’s an illusion to think you can feel for someone; you can’t feel for someone. Later, it was Susan David who wrote the book on Emotional Agility, and taught me about spiritual intelligence and emotional agility.
Q: What is your motto in life?
Try to turn your attention to your inner self and listen clearly to your inner voice, because it can give you amazing treasures. The value of life is inside, so when we listen to our inner self, we get amazing guidance.
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