Valley Forge, PA – Just three years, the Educational Guidance Program (EGP), that started out in a church hall, shows great promise as a new generation of mentors take hold. Student attendees are returning year after year, to, as they say, “pay it forward,” by giving back to the next class of young Greek-Americans.
On Saturday morning at the Valley Forge Sheraton, the EGP, developed by Hellenic Hearts, hosted its 3rd Annual College Fair & Mentoring Event. Nearly 100 Greek American students from across the Delaware Valley, participated. Two guest panel forums took place. The first featured a field of experts that focused on admissions applications in education. The other, a group of former EGP member students and mentors, that shared their experiences.
The presentation-forum went on simultaneously, while a workshop took place next door with mentors for students. Students met and asked questions of both new and former mentors during the breakout session. Volunteers, consisting of young professionals, and some teachers who, themselves, understood the process, shared career path information as well their experiences. During the forum, parents also inquired about methods in which students can apply and become excepted to schools and their varying application process. They learned about featuring and highlighting the application with extracurricular activities, describing their commitments or passion projects, and providing insight on their leisure pursuits and interests. Throughout the day, parents and students were extremely inquisitive and engaged.
Mentors met in small groups (nearly one on one) during the break-out session, which gave this event a much needed and unique opportunity for the students. Questions were often followed by second and third follow-up questions from the same students. And an undeniable level of comfort and understanding was immediately visible between the students and mentors, who throughout the day, built a level of understanding. Students certainly left feeling a sense of direction.
With each year, the EGP continues to grow on top of the next set of recruits and students. How did it all happen? It all started when founder and president of Hellenic Hearts, John Aivazoglou met up with St. Demetrios GOYA basketball coach, Louie Karapanagiotidis during a basketball game a few years ago. Their conversation led to the fact that young Greek-Americans weren’t being given guidance into education and the professional workforce. Karapanagiotidis had a dream that he shared with Aivazoglou; to give back to his community by enacting a program that would put Greek-Americans on a path that does more than giving away free mentoring.
EGP It teaches them how to be part of an evolving and growing community as well from the perspective of economics via career/education guidance, an area that has been underexplored by the Greek-American community organizations and churches. “We know there have been efforts like this in our community, but they generally revolve around scholarships, but we go beyond that,” says Karapanagiotidis. “That’s why we continue to grow and succeed,” added Karapanagiotidis. Aivazoglou and Hellenic Hearts agreed to fund the concept, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Hellenic Hearts Educational Guidance Program provides education-to-career guidance to Greek-American youths through mentoring, networking, admissions counseling, and Professionalism programs, to promote higher education and increasing professional success. To learn more, visit https://hellenichearts.org/egp.