Close to 600 people gathered to honor the achievements and service of The American College of Greece’s (PIERCE, DEREE & ALBA) distinguished alumni at the 2014 Alumni Achievement Awards held September 12 at ACG’s Agia Paraskevi campus.
During the celebratory evening that raised funds for scholarships, ACG President Dr. David G. Horner presented the prestigious Maria West Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the College’s founder, to Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis – Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO – for her extensive charitable work and contribution to society.
The DEREE alumna – who is also known for founding and presiding over the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer ELPIDA – thanked ACG for the “great honor,” and for the encouragement to continue her work “building a better world for our children.”
Vardinoyannis recounted how she fulfilled her life’s dream when she earned her BA in History of Art from DEREE in 2002, and encouraged students to “use all their “power and strength” to make their dreams come true, praising DEREE for setting “humanitarian initiatives as priorities in the heart of education.”
Ourania Kli-Efremoglou (PIERCE UPPER 1952 and 1954) president of the Foundation of the Hellenic World, won the Philanthropy & Community Service Award, noting in a moving speech that “My husband and I and my son believed that we had to give back to our country, our fellow humans, and society. Besides, this is what my school taught me: Non ministrari sed ministrare – Not to be served, but to serve. I’ve done my duty and nothing more.”
Also recognized at the 2014 AAA were eight other renowned alumni from PIERCE, DEREE & ALBA, who were awarded for distinction in various fields:
Alexandra Pitta-Chazapi, PIERCE 1967, Managing Director, Attiki Bee Culturing Co. Alexandros Pittas SA, (Business); Paris Kafantaris, DEREE 1980, WE Marketing Vice President, Procter & Gamble, (Business) – award accepted by his niece; Theano Liakopoulou, ALBA 1999, Partner, McKinsey & Company, (Business); Evita Arapoglou, PIERCE 1974, Art Historian and Author, (Arts & Culture); Aris Stouraitis, DEREE 1988, Professor, Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, (Education); Athena Andreadis, PIERCE 1973, Scientist and Author, (Science) – award accepted by her father; Antonios Fiorakis, DEREE 2007, Co-Founder and CEO, incrediblue.com (Entrepreneurship), and Ioannis Arabatzis, ALBA 2005, Founder and Managing Director, Nanophos SA (Entrepreneurship).
Former President of the Hellenic Parliament Anna Psarouda Benaki, PIERCE ’52, PIERCE Upper Division ’53, and herself a 2011 ACG Alumnae Award Recipient – of the Woman in Public Service Award – presented the Stavros Niarchos Foundation with ACG’s Commitment to Education Award in recognition of its support of educational initiatives, alongside its charitable work.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Foundation was Director of Public Affairs & Assistant Operating Officer at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Lenia Vlavianou, who thanked ACG for the ‘’honor,’ and for working with the Foundation to establish the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Scholarship Program – which allows more outstanding students of Greek public-universities to study in ACG-DEREE’s Parallel Studies program, after an exclusive grant from the Foundation.
George D. Behrakis, president of the Behrakis Foundation, was also honored with the Greek Heritage Award for promoting Hellenism and was shown receiving the award from President Horner in Boston by video, as a prior commitment kept him away.
“I'm a great believer in philanthropy and I would hope more people that have made it in a career would give more towards philanthropy whether it's in education, whether it's in healthcare, whether it's in religion; whatever it is, and give to the youth,” Behrakis prodded.
In his opening remarks during the second ACG Alumni Awards, ACG President Dr David G. Horner welcomed guests, which included captains of industry and politics, ACG faculty, staff, alumni, students, and friends, while noting the many achievements of ACG Alumni, who now number over 37,000 in Greece and abroad.
“Tonight we honor exemplars of the mission, vision and values of The American College of Greece…We are inspired by their example,” said Dr. Horner.
“Your generosity will make possible the education of gifted and deserving students who will become the leaders of tomorrow, continuing the proud tradition of this institution dating back to 1875,” Dr. Horner added referring to the fundraising evening’s net proceeds which will fund merit- and need-based scholarships at ACG.
Dr. Horner then asked the audience at the Irene Bailey Open Air Theater to stand if they had received any academic or other merit scholarship, any financial assistance or a reduction in tuition for any reason – including funding to study abroad – during their studies at ACG.
Dozens in the audience answered his call, standing up to wide applause.
President Horner stressed that ACG’s overall percentage increase in enrollment at PIERCE, DEREE and ALBA this autumn – the largest since 1991 – was made possible “in part because student financial support has increased five-fold since 2008-09…This year alone ACG will award nearly five million euros in student financial assistance.”
During the ceremony, ACG paid a moving tribute to the late Avraam Albert Arouh (1950-2014), who dedicated his life to education and served The American College of Greece as a faculty member of Economics for 33 years. Dr. Melenia Arouh, PIERCE 1995 – DEREE 1999, accepted the commemorative award for her father.
Celebrated Master of Ceremonies Alexis Kostalas was on hand to guide guests throughout the awards, and was a great contributor to the success of the inspiring and moving ceremony.
“Tonight, you have rewarded the achievements of the present. But above all, you have supported the students – tomorrow’s pioneers of change,” Kostalas concluded.
The evening also showcased the talents of PIERCE and DEREE students and professors, who performed musical interludes, including a “flash mob” made up of PIERCE students descending upon the stage just after the last award – ending the ceremony in a memorable song-and-dance performance.
A reception followed catered by celebrity chefs offering savory delights to go with splendid wine and beer by acclaimed winemakers and Athenian Brewery. A jazz quartet, made up of two DEREE music professors and other musicians, also kept guests entertained.
ACG is especially proud of its celebrated alumni all around the world, who are not only excelling in their various fields, but in so doing act as ambassadors for the whole ACG family.
The American College of Greece would like to thank the benefactors of the awards.
Congratulations are also in order for the 2014 Alumni Achievement Award organizers: Mary-Irene Triantafillou (DEREE ’89), Executive Director of Development at ACG, and Vassia Comis, Executive Director, College Events.
See the honorees at the 2011 Alumnae Awards Benefit Dinner.
The AMERICAN COLLEGE OF GREECE (PIERCE-DEREE-ALBA) is a non-profit, non-sectarian educational institution founded in 1875. It is the oldest and largest American college in Europe, offering secondary, undergraduate, and graduate studies as well as programs in professional education. ACG is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the most prestigious accrediting organization in the United States, and has a degree validation agreement with the Open University of the United Kingdom. The College enrolls approximately 4,000 students and has more than 37,000 alumni who live and work in dozens of countries around the world.