CHICAGO – The Greek Women’s University Club (GWUC) celebrated the organization’s 90th anniversary and the launch of the Hellenic Revolution’s 200th anniversary with a scholarship presentation to three female students on December 29th at Jameson’s Charhouse.
Fittingly, the scholars received awards of $1,821 each. “In 2021, as the GWUC celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the beginning of the Greek struggle for Independence, we thought it appropriate to give academic merit scholarship grants in the amount of $1821,” said GWUC Co-president Harriette Condes Zervakis. “Our recipients may recall the importance of that year when they think of their award,” she said.
The in-person dinner event brought together members and friends of the GWUC, and included a holiday music presentation with Marguerite Matthews, while Joanne Chamis served as Emcee. In addition, the GWUC gifted copies of the special anniversary edition of Portes magazine to the guests.
In attendance, among others, were Consul General of Greece for the Midwestern States, Emmanuel Koubarakis, who spoke about honoring Greek history. GWUC Past President Theodora Nicolandis reflected on the 90th Anniversary of GWUC, while Ruth Faklis spoke about the years of the Revolution.
“It is said that the war led to the formation of modern Greece. But perhaps it was the people and the history of their ancestors that created the Greece we know today,” Faklis said. “Their creativity, their thirst for knowledge, their fighting spirit led us to where we are today – a free and independent Greece.”
GWUC’s 2021 scholarships were presented in memory of Greek war heroine Laskarina Bouboulina, Charles C. Condes, and the Chicago Greek Chorus. Recipients this year were Demetra Despoina Alikakos, Danielle Testen and Angela Lee Vainikos.
“I feel honored and blessed to have been chosen for this scholarship,” Alikakos said. “It gives me great confidence as I go forward knowing that I am part of a community, the Greek American Community, that values education and looks to encourage and support students as they pursue their dreams.”
The GWUC promotes education, encourages the arts, literature, and sciences, and enhances knowledge pertaining to Hellenic history and culture. Established in 1931, the GWUC also hosts a biannual national music competition for Greek youth ages 20-29 and awards scholarships to young women of Greek descent.
“As high achievers in our community, we congratulate Demetra, Danielle, and Angela, and have faith they will carry our Greek heritage into the future,” Condes Zervakis said.
About the 2021 GWUC Scholars
Demetra Despina Alikakosis a senior at DePaul University in Chicago. She is pursuing a double major in Bassoon Performance and Mathematical Sciences, with a concentration in statistics. Demetra’s official transcripts demonstrate that she has ‘aced’ all her courses at DePaul, including some with subjects such as Woodwind Pedagogy, Music and Politics, Multivariable Calculus II, and Applied Regression Analysis. She is always on the Dean’s List for the School of Music.
Recommendation letters for Demetra cited her “excellent work that impresses faculty, staff, and students within our program.” Demetra is the Ensemble Librarian at the School of Music who “tasked herself with re-organizing our orchestra catalog – a very large and time consuming project.”
Over the years, Demetra has volunteered as a camp counselor, Junior Olympics Coordinator, Greek dance troupe dancer, Greek Fest organizer, and Sunday School volunteer. She has also won awards for the beautiful icons that she has painted.
Danielle Testenis currently completing a Master’s Degree in Special Education at Dominican University. She will also have endorsements for teaching Driver’s Education and English as a Second Language (ESL) to students with special needs.
An Associate Dean noted: “Ms. Testen’s academic performance has been outstanding,” adding that Danielle has “strong research, analytical, and writing skills.” Danielle’s transcripts attest to these remarks.
The Chief Learning Officer described Danielle as “the quintessential learner” and one who “is not afraid to ask the ‘what if’ question, (similar to Socrates)…” Danielle has volunteered with the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, Special Olympics, Easter Seals, and has assisted third grade ESL students learn to read. Danielle is currently being tutored in Greek by her daughter who is attending Greek school.
Angela Lee Vainikosis a junior at Loyola University in Chicago with a double major in English and Secondary Education. In her letter of recommendation, one of Angela’s professors gave her the “highest recommendation” citing Angela’s “high level of academic motivation and dedication,” and her engaging, well-written, and persuasive arguments on complex issues.
Angela’s Scholastic Bowl coach stated, “her accomplishments are great, but her potential is even greater.” Angela is the secretary for the Loyola Hellenic Student Association. She strives to showcase Greek/ethnic culture on campus, one example being the ‘OXI’ Day Celebration.
In addition, at her home parish of Sts. Constantine and Helen, Angela has volunteered as an assistant Sunday School teacher who created lesson plans, and a Senior Handmaiden. Angela has also worked at After School Matters in Chicago, as a student instructor for students in grades 8 through 11. This fall Angela will utilize her teaching skills as an intern with the U.S. State Department Foreign Service Institute, assisting U.S. diplomats to learn Greek language and culture.