Alumni Spotlight: Stavroula (Vivian) Haritos, CYA Summer ’03

It is hard to believe that I attended CYA for a semester abroad over 16 years ago. All of these years later, I still consider CYA one of my most cherished experiences as a college student and young adult—I made lifelong friendships, rediscovered my ancestral home, and gained a word-class education—in fact, a CYA classmate even attended my wedding last year!

As a Junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I remember holding the CYA pamphlet in my hands, which I pulled from a display in the Academic office outlining semesters abroad. While marketing and communications have certainly changed since the early 2000s, one thing remains constant: My belief in CYA, their mission, and the tremendous benefit and personal impact of study abroad.

For me, CYA not only provided superior academic offerings but a community of individuals from all over the world who shared a common passion. These individuals helped weave a rich tapestry comprised of curiosity and love for Greece, her history, and her culture. I recall vividly my two wonderful professors—renowned academics Dr. Nanno Marinatos, along with Dr. Steven Diamant, and their enthusiasm for the material they were teaching.

As an Art History major and Classics minor, the course syllabi, on-site trips, reading materials, and in-class lectures were all expertly assembled to provide a better understanding of Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Our trips as a class were unforgettable; we went to Crete, explored the Peloponnese, and stood in awe at the ruins of Akrotiri and Knossos, with ample behind-the-scenes experiences through historical sites, museums, and archaeological excavations that had not even been published yet.

It felt special because it was special—and that is the reason we must continue to support CYA.

Professor Diamant and students getting some shade at Akrotiri, Santorini

Since completing my studies, I went on to pursue my passion in the Arts, and have gained experience through a variety of non-profit work in exhibitions, education, and public programming. Today, I am proud to represent another organization that I consider special—The PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation, where I currently serve as Director of Development. Founded in 2002 by Chris P. Tomaras, the PanHellenic has gone on to award $3.25+ million in scholarships to almost 500 of the top Greek American undergraduates in the United States. For more information, please visit www.panhellenicsf.org. Our next scholarship application will be available on October 1st and qualifying undergraduates are encouraged to apply by January 31, 2020.

In 2018, things seemed to come full-circle when the PanHellenic received a generous Corporate Sponsorship from CYA. We were honored to welcome Campus Relations Manager, Alexia Lingaas, along with CYA Alumna Marissa Linzi ’10 to Chicago for our Alumni Weekend, where they represented CYA and shared the tremendous benefit of study abroad with our Alumni and Scholars.

This past June 14-16, CYA continued their generous support of the Foundation with a Corporate Sponsorship that helped kick-off our Alumni Weekend at Holland and Knight. CYA Board of Trustee member, Endy Zemenides CYA ‘95, represented CYA and shared his personal experience as an alum. In addition to the Welcome Reception sponsored by CYA, the Foundation held a third annual Mentorship Luncheon sponsored by The Hellenic Initiative, where fourteen mentors shared valuable knowledge and insight with our scholarship recipients. The weekend culminated with our Awards Ceremony and Gala, where the Foundation awarded $250,000 in scholarships and announced a new internship initiative. The Foundation welcomed over 600 guests to our 2019 Alumni Weekend events.

Lastly, I wish to thank everyone at CYA who make these life-changing experiences possible—may you continue to flourish and thrive for generations to come. Thank you.


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Written by Tina Voulgari