CHICAGO – The Hellenic Bar Association (HBA) this year awarded a total of $70,000 to seven students pursuing education in the field of law at its 68th annual scholarship ball, October 7th. Some 200 supporters, Hellenes and philhellenes in the law, education and businesses sector, attended the intimate event, held at the JW Marriott Hotel in the Chicago Loop. This year, the $5,000 HBA individual scholarships were doubled with a generous matching grant by the John C. Kulis Charitable Foundation.
The 2018 HBA Scholarship Ball commenced with a cocktail hour and welcome from Mistress of Ceremonies TV and radio personality Marianne Murciano, followed by an invocation prayer by the Reverend Father Constantine Aliferakis of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Schererville, Indiana.
HBA President Maria Vathis then delivered a speech highlighting the story of her grandfather, who left Greece for America in the early 1900s “all alone…with only bread in his pocket…selling fruit door to door” to pursue an education and offer his kin opportunities. “Those of us in this room have maximized the opportunity that was given to us, and I think our ancestors would be proud to see all the good we are doing in the community with those opportunities through the Hellenic Bar Association and in many other ways,” Vathis said.
HBA Scholarship Committee Chairs Frank Andreou and EfieVainikos presented the HBA Law Student Scholarships.
This year’s scholars include:
Christina Karahalios – Chicago Kent College of Law
Anna Karnaze – Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Mary Fay Karras – Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Basile Manikas – Loyola University School of Law
Vasiliki Mitrakos – Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Regina Vassilopoulos – Chicago Kent College of Law
Sophia Vatougios – DePaul University College of Law
“To be a recipient of such an award is an honor, and has provided me a tremendous validation of my hard work,” said BasileManikas, 2018 scholarship recipient. “It gives me great pride to be a part of such an incredible, generous and supporting Hellenic organization…receiving the scholarship award has made me hungrier than ever in my pursuit for knowledge and success in my career,” Manikas said.
In addition to supporting Greek-American law students through financial scholarships at their annual gala, the HBA recognizes and celebrates esteemed honorees who have demonstrated the highest level of service to the Hellenic community.
This year’s HBA Hellene of the Year Award went to First Assistant United States Attorney John C. Kocoras, while E. Angelo Spyratos was named Lawyer of the Year. Attorney and children’s book author Nick Katsoris, and Management Director at Midwest Region RMB Capital, Dimitri P. Eliopoulos, were named 2018 honorees.
“I get to stand before you here today because of the support of my parents,” Spyratos said. “In 1970, a Greek carpenter brought his 24-year old wife and their two children, ages two and four, to Chicago, in pursuit of a better life. The key which would open the door was education,” he said, noting the importance of remembering one’s roots as a Greek-American, as they assimilate to the American way of life.
The event’s elegant dinner was accompanied by lively Greek and ballroom dancing, as well as a silent auction and gifts from Sweet Connection Bakery, Papa Nicholas Coffee and Nick Katsoris (Loukoumi Books.)
Established in 1951 by a group of Greek attorneys, the HBA continues its tradition of supporting scholarships for worthy law students with strong academic, spiritual, and cultural foundations, rooted in Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Established by the late Dr. John C. Kulis, The Kulis Foundation is a Chicago-based non-profit organization whose mission, in part, is to support educational programs affiliated with the Orthodox faith and Hellenic heritage.