Posted on

DEREE’s Honors’ Students Seizing Opportunities at Home and Abroad

This summer, DEREE’s outstanding International Honors Program (IHP) students – the first class graduated last year – are continuing to make a name for themselves, with their successes at home and abroad exceeding even their own expectations.

Some have been chosen to intern at leading multinational companies, others are packing their bags for the renowned Stanford Summer International Honors Program (SSIHP), others have chosen to take one or two stimulating honors seminars on offer at DEREE this summer, or are gearing up to attend a stellar graduate school in the fall.

Case in point, Maria Zoe Papaioannou, an International Honors student who graduated from DEREE with a BSc in Business Administration (with a major in Finance) at the start of the year, and is wrapping up a memorable internship in the Finance Department of the multinational DIAGEO in London.

Papaioannou, who is delivering the student address at this year’s DEREE Commencement, says the IHP, which she enrolled in four years ago, “has proven to be one of the strongest assets in my CV both directly and indirectly…with interdisciplinary and specially-designed classes.” It also afforded her the opportunity to attend Stanford University’s Summer International Honors program, and “opened many doors both academically and professionally… there is always a job interview question where I can expand on all the skills and knowledge gained through the program.”

Papaioannou, who will also soon complete her studies at the National Polytechnic University of Athens with a degree in Applied Mathematics, enthusiastically recommends the DEREE IHP, saying “it was an honor to be an honor's student!” 

It’s no surprise, really, that those who chose to take part in DEREE’s IHP are doing so well, as the caliber of the students is very high to begin with: students have to have a high C.I. to enroll in the program and maintain it throughout their studies, says the program’s director Dr. Helen Maragou, adding, that “the seminars are interdisciplinary, in order to encourage students to become well-rounded, inquisitive, critical thinkers.”

The program aims at producing well-educated, articulate citizens who exemplify the highest standards of academic, professional and personal achievement. Students take four honors seminars and then embark on their honors thesis – a capstone project that allows them to immerse themselves in a topic under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

Students also have to produce a creative project for each seminar, and these projects usually span the gamut of creativity: from art installations and photo exhibits, to videos, short movies, games, photo exhibits, and more, says Dr. Maragou, who has been leading the program since 2012, and has been teaching English and American Literature at DEREE for several years.

Dr. Maragou says that she is very proud of the first five Honors students who graduated in 2014 and are “doing so well.  This year, we will have another 10 outstanding students graduating… Currently, there are 119 students in the program, sophomores to seniors from different majors.”

The program seeks to develop students’ intellectual and civic leadership skills through dynamic teaching and student involvement that extend beyond the classroom, says Dr. Maragou, adding that two of the main academic goals of the program are innovation and creativity. All these goals are being met, say the students, who wax lyrical about the seminars they have taken and the opportunities afforded them.

Thodoris Sotiriou, who is majoring in Management at DEREE while studying Computer Science at the Athens University of Economics and Business, praises the program’s interdisciplinary approach and says it exceeded his expectations with “flying colors…I learned about capitalism through art and explored digital citizenship through Plato…I would definitely recommend the program not only for what it is, but more importantly for what it represents. It represents excellence and opportunities…”

Thodoris singles out his favorite parts: “The opportunity to attend Stanford University, the opportunity to write and publish your Honors Thesis, the opportunity to learn amazing new things through various courses and constantly challenge yourself…. and believe me when I say the fruits of these efforts have a very long-lasting effect,” he notes, adding, “I had the chance to meet very cool professors and deep dive into unexplored fields.”

Thodoris is currently wrapping up his invaluable internship in the Marketing Activation Excellence division of the Coca-Cola Company in Hungary. He is also looking forward to attending Stanford University’s International Honors program this summer.

DEREE junior Eirini Melegkovits, who is studying Psychology and hopes to pursue graduate studies in either Europe or the US, agrees that the IHP seminars are “intriguing and challenging, but not because they’re hard.” Rather, “because you become engaged in something often completely new, something creative, which allows you to actively discover, think openly and change your perspective on multiple topics.”

Another IHP junior Manos Kalokairinos agrees, noting that the honors program helped him “think multi-dimensionally” and enhanced his “ability to discuss not only the economic aspect of a subject, but the cultural, the political, and so forth.” Manos, who is majoring in Economics and works both on and off campus while pursuing his studies, sings the praises of Dr. Maragou, who he says is “always trying to present us with upcoming internships and opportunities, which are priceless for our CV…”

He singles out “the two cornerstones of the IHP: the Honors Thesis – which can even be published, enhancing one’s CV, and can be the extra boost towards graduate school or a job opportunity,” and the Stanford Summer International Honors Program, a unique two-month opportunity offered to outstanding DEREE Honors students.

DEREE honors student Christos Lamnidis also praises the program’s interdisciplinary approach, saying it helped him “discover” his more creative side, while giving him the opportunity to explore other academic fields aside from his major.

Currently a sophomore majoring in Finance with two minors in Philosophy and Economics, Christos hopes to pursue his MBA at Columbia University in the future. In the meantime, he plans on continuing his experiential learning journey in IHP by taking the honors seminar Strolling Incognito in Athens, billed as “a structured physical and intellectual walkabout around the city of Athens.” Joined by Honors students from the University of North Florida (UNF) on study abroad, Christos and other IHP students will engage in an experiential study of the Athenian scene, which aims to transform them into “both readers and writers of the text of the city,” through its literal and figurative exploration. The course kicks off June 30, taught by urban sociologist Georgia Giannakopoulou.

“We offer the UNF students two honors seminars in the second summer session that begins end June,” says Dr. Maragou, and one more was on offer during the first summer session “Coming up, we have the Strolling Incognito in Athens seminar, taught by urban sociologist Georgia Giannakopoulou, and the Documentary Photography seminar, taught by award-winning photographer Yiannis Kontos. Each year, we have a mix of professionals and academics teaching our IHP summer seminars,” she says.  

“We also want to make an effort to truly internationalize the program by bringing more students from abroad,” Dr. Maragou adds. “But, we also plan on creating more opportunities for our own IHP students – while we continue to focus on outstanding seminars taught by inspiring faculty, as well as in providing scholarships and more opportunities for internships and study abroad” she concludes.

Read more about the International Honors Program at DEREEInterdisciplinary Courses for the Curious Mind