NEW YORK – The FAITH Endowment welcomes 55 of the brightest and most accomplished young leaders within the Greek American community into the FAITH Academic Excellence program and awards 75 FAITH STEM continuation scholarships. The 2020 FAITH Scholars join over 500 young leaders who represent an exemplary range of innovation, ambition and civic-mindedness – from aspiring architects and educators to future biomedical engineers and data scientists.
Scholarship amounts ranging up to $10,000 were awarded to applicants displaying extraordinary academic achievement and a spirit of charity, philanthropy and altruism found at the core of their Hellenic heritage and Greek Orthodox values. They are accepted into top universities across the country, merited the highest recommendations from their teachers and mentors, scored within the 95th percentile for the ACT and SAT, maintained an A grade point average and ranked within the top 10% of their graduating classes. While following rigorous course plans of AP, honors and dual credit classes, 70% founded clubs at school, interned in fields related to their college majors and earned titles from National Merit Scholar and class valedictorian to student government president and scholastic team captain.
Despite the interruptions they faced during their spring semester, the 2020 FAITH Scholars adapted to meet the growing needs in their communities: grocery shopping for elderly neighbors, creating a support program for low-income medical students and developing curriculum for a virtual educational program for elementary students. Furthermore, they remained engaged with their Greek Orthodox community when it was logistically difficult to do so — heading their parish’s COVID response teams, providing tech support for livestreams and hosting weekly GOYA meetings over Zoom.
“This recognition is an unbelievable honor, and I thank FAITH for supporting me as I begin the next chapter of my studies and further academic and professional pursuits. I greatly appreciate the FAITH Scholar program as an incentive for achievement among young members of the Hellenic community. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to connect with other FAITH Scholars, and I wish to continue my engagement and contribution to this community in the future,” said Joanna Papaioannou, a 2020 FAITH Scholar majoring in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.
FAITH Scholars with FAITH Founder Dr. Roy Vagelos. Photo: Courtesy of the FAITH Endowment
The additional 75 college students qualified to receive the FAITH Scholarship for Excellence in STEM continuation award, bringing the grand total of scholarships FAITH awarded in its sixteenth year to 130. This special scholarship series supports all four years of candidates’ undergraduate studies if they major in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math), maintain a 3.6 minimum GPA and actively continue to participate in organizations related to the Hellenic and Greek Orthodox community throughout their college career.
With the support and network provided by the FAITH Scholarship program and mentors, FAITH STEM Scholars are pushing society forward through data-driven problem solving, transformative technological developments and advancements in scientific and medical fields. Christina Bourantas, a junior at DePauw University majoring in physics, interned at a children’s hospital and aspires to develop prosthetics for those living with neuromuscular conditions. Paul Debassio, a pre-med senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, began volunteering in a student-run EMT program and is now doing a full-time internship in the Yale New Haven Hospital with a focus on pediatric hematology. Loukas Carayannopoulos, a junior nuclear engineer major at MIT, studied alternative energy sources at General Atomics in San Diego, and Mariana Frangos, a freshman math major at Stanford University, collaborated with an international team of data scientists to evaluate clinical trial results for COVID treatments.
“Becoming a part of this amazing group of FAITH Scholars is one of the most important achievements in my life. As someone who has a passion for STEM and a deep appreciation for both my Greek roots and Orthodox Christian faith, I am humbled and beyond grateful for this award and am privileged to be a part of something truly amazing,” said George Tsakalakos, a freshman physics major at Emory University who received the FAITH scholarship in 2019.
FAITH was founded in 2004 with the core mission to promote an understanding of the Greek Orthodox faith, Hellenism and excellence among young people through a series of high quality, innovative educational programs and cultural initiatives.
More information is available by phone: 212-644-6960 or online: www.thefaithendowment.org.