The annual Deree Commencement, our biggest event of the year, celebrates the perseverance of each and every one of our students, and all the hard work that has led them to this wonderful occasion, their graduation day!
Students of The American College of Greece distinguish themselves in various venues: in classrooms, studios, and laboratories; on playing fields and performance stages, in campus organizations and volunteer service in the community; in study and internships around the world. Just a few days ago, at the 2017 Student Awards Ceremony held on June 28, over 140 students and graduates received awards, recognizing their outstanding performances in a range of student achievements!
And so, on Saturday, July 1, more than 360 undergraduate and graduate Deree students from 24 countries gathered at the track and field to be awarded their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, joining the 52,000-strong ACG alumni family.
Dr. David G. Horner, President of The American College of Greece welcomed the graduating students and their friends and family, along with the Board of Trustees, and ACG faculty and staff to the 2017 Deree Commencement Ceremony.
“The Deree graduates we focus on this evening have worked hard and richly deserve the recognition we will bestow upon them,” said Dr. Horner adding that, “they are ready to navigate the challenges of a global economy and to be constructive agents of social change.”
Dr. Horner then introduced the Ambassador of the United States Embassy in Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, who honored Deree with his presence, bringing a greeting on behalf of the people of the United States. US Ambassador Pyatt addressed the graduating Class of 2017 saying, “Your outstanding education has given you the tools to make a difference. Now it’s up to you to engage, connect, and make changes – in your own communities and in the global community. Your generation can build a bright future for Greece, and for all of us!”
The 2017 Commencement Address was delivered by this year’s honorary degree recipients: Olga E. Julius who has served as the Principal and driving force of Pierce – The American College of Greece for 42 years, and Philip C. Korologos, who has served as Chair of the ACG Board of Trustees since 2011.
Pierce Principal Olga E. Julius received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, and with her characteristic smile and sweetness said, “How lucky am I to share this night with 368 graduates! It is my great pleasure to have been associated with this institution for 42 years. I have been extremely fortunate to have spent my life in secondary education, transferring my love to the children, enjoying abundant opportunities to develop innovative programs and experiencing extraordinary moments.”
Principal Julius added, “The missionaries who envisioned the creation of this school in Smyrna, Asia Minor, in 1875, devoted their time, talents and energy, worked in challenging times, not seeking praise or credit, promoting the idea of education for girls, which was revolutionary in those times, in Turkey. It has been my great privilege to inherit and to build on this proud history and tradition!”
Philip C. Korologos, a partner in the law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in New York, joined the ACG Board of Trustees in 2006, was its Vice-Chair from 2009-2011, and has since served as Chair of Board.
Upon receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, Mr. Korologos addressed the graduating class and shared with them a few values he has picked up over the years to further the ACG mission. “Firstly,” he said, “take what you have learned here and use it to your best advantage. Really use it. This great faculty has taught you to think, to care, to believe, to hope, and to desire achievement. Take those lessons with you on all your future adventures.” And secondly, “Don’t hope that others will make you great. Aim and strive for that greatness through your own acts and deeds. Your future achievements will provide distinctive and sustainable value to Greece, to Hellenic heritage, and to the global community!”
Graduating student Peter Paraskevopoulos followed, delivering the 2017 Student Address. Just before he received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Peter shared a few parting thoughts with his fellow graduates saying, “More than anything else, Deree will remain ingrained in our minds and spirits as fostering three core values: diversity, leadership, and meritocracy. This graduating class represents the strength of diversity in action. We represent 24 different countries, various ethnicities, cultures, and genders; and yet, despite our differences, we have learned to work collectively toward common goals.”
“We also learned to lead and make a difference in our communities,” Peter said, with respect to the many experiences the students have had during their time at Deree, ranging from studying and working abroad as interns, to participating in the active student life on campus, to volunteering in community outreach programs.
Peter gracefully ended his address by urging his fellow classmates to “aspire to lead with dignity, to listen instead of declaim, and stand our ground when we witness injustices.”
And as the Conferral of Degrees began, 368 graduating Deree students donned their brightest smile and, cheered on by an audience of their peers and supporters, they were awarded their degrees of Master of Science, Master of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Science, on a night that concludes years of hard work and perseverance, and exciting opportunities and experiences.
President Horner gave his closing remarks saying, “While others helped to bring you to this moment, it is you who claimed this investment and made it your own. Now you stand at the threshold of a future you must also claim as your own. Graduates of 2017, we are proud of your accomplishments; we are the better for our association with you as colleagues in learning, and we send you forth in confidence to share the gifts that you, uniquely, can offer!”
As Dr. Horner presented the Deree Class of 2017, the excitement came to a crescendo as colorful fireworks filled the summer night sky! The Deree Class of 2017 was loudly and joyfully cheered on by an ecstatic and proud audience, celebrating their accomplishments and wishing them luck, inspiration, and determination in their next steps.