CHICAGO – Nearly 500 members of the city’s Greek-American and Philhellene community gathered in celebration of the 12th annual PanHellenic Scholarship Awards Gala on June 20 at the Hilton Chicago.
This year, 40 students were awarded scholarships totaling $250,000, while esteemed athlete, entrepreneur, and author Dean Karnazes was the recipient of the foundation’s 2015 Paradigm Award.
“I’m not good at giving advice, but my advice would be listen to everyone and follow no one,” Karnazes stated during his speech to the crowd. “Follow what’s in your own heart and pursue your own unique passions, and that’s the key to happiness and fulfillment,” he added.
Actress, writer, and producer Krystal White served as Emcee for the evening. She expressed her appreciation for the foundation’s mission, and for its Chairman and Founder Chris P. Tomaras.
“What I admire about Mr. Tomaras is that he is so passionate about helping people pursue their dreams, and you can tell that he really means it in the way he speaks about it,” White said.
It was an ornate setting with elegant decor filled with guests in fancy attire enjoying a gourmet dinner, chatting amongst friends and delighting in the musical entertainment provided by the Chris Sarlas Orchestra.
“We had a wonderful evening, and it was an opportunity for us, as we do every year, to help students of Greek descent,” Tomaras said.
Now in its 17th year, the PHSF has awarded to date $2.25 million in academic scholarships to 284 Greek American students pursuing undergraduate studies at accredited colleges and universities across the country.
“I feel extremely enthused, proud and excited to have received this award,” said Athanasia Giannetos, a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champagne who gave a speech that night. “Looking back to the ancient Greeks and to antiquity can support our construction and foundation of America today,” she added.
Representing various educational institutions and study focuses, the 40 honored students mingled with each other and the crowd that attended in recognition of their achievements.
“I feel like we have been treated like celebrities,” said scholarship recipient Evdokia Spears. “It’s a huge honor to see our hard work paying off, and not only to be appreciated, but honored as well.”
Of the 40 scholarships awarded, 20 were in the amount of $10,000 based on academic achievement and financial need and 20 in the amount of $2,500 were based solely on academic achievement.
“What the foundation is doing goes beyond monetary significance,” said scholarship recipient George Anagnostopoulos. “It’s the fact that they believe in us, and that just moves mountains for us, and for us to have the support of the Hellenic community really inspires us,” he added.
“The award means more than just money to me,” said Konstantine Kosmidis. “To me, it means the opportunity to continue doing what I’m passionate about…and I look forward to giving back whether it’s through volunteering or through a future monetary donation to help give other students an opportunity,” he added.
A night filled with celebration for a noble cause, the PanHellenic Scholarship Gala has for years brought together the most enthusiastic of Greek-Americans and their friends.
“This is just another day in the life of Chris Tomaras,” said Founder of The Sports Index and Greek Media Club, Terry Poulos. “We are almost spoiled because he’s done it so many times and we’ve come to expect this grandiose experience and he never fails to deliver,” he added.
In addition to the annual academic scholarships awarded, the PHSF also supports the immersion program Hellenic Birthright, a unique educational and cultural experience for Greek-American youth visiting Greece for the first time.
“The community applauds what we do because they recognize the significance of this particular effort, and every year we see more and more people supporting us,” Tomaras said. “Hopefully others will join the ranks and they will continue appreciating what we are doing so we can continue our effort,” he added.
For more information about the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation, visit