Broomall, PA – While schools all over the Philadelphia metropolitan area are preparing for graduation and commencement ceremonies, Greek-American students are already looking ahead to the future.
On Saturday morning, Hellenic Hearts Educational Guidance Program (EGP), hosted for the 2nd year in a row its Annual College Fair & Mentoring Event at St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, PA. The event provided education to career guidance to the Greek-American youth. It’s a unique program, provided by the Hellenic Hearts organization, and it’s free to Greek-Americans.
At its core, the program teaches and provides mentoring, networking, admissions counseling, and professionalism programs. This year, several changes and additions were added, as told to us by Louie Karapanagiotides, director of the Education Guidance Program. “This being our 2nd year of the program, our team really worked hard to ensure that the day’s activities and material weren’t just recycled from the previous year but. We wanted the event to have a fresh feel with all current information. It truly was a great day for all us, students, parents, and advisors alike. Our biggest addition to this year’s event was our college fair in which we had 12 universities/colleges represented, who answered our parents and students’ every question as it related to admissions, campus life, class offerings, etc.”.
The range of schools was remarkable – big, small, private, public, trade schools. An amazingly diversified group to make sure kids were afforded every opportunity available. Schools included Villanova, Drexel, Saint Joseph’s, Rosemont and many many more. Another new addition was the Student Experience panel in which four current college students from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, Temple, and Saint Joseph’s provided further detail at a more granular level as it is related to their college experiences and allowed for an in-depth Q&A session with the audience. All in all, over 100 parents and students and over 30 advisors and presenters took part in the day.”
The mentoring program has grown and been expanded to include recent graduates to mentors, while the shift to the group discussion is two-fold. As the program continues to gain more interest from the community, it no longer can do 1-on-1 sessions. The team of volunteers that work for program listened to a lot of the feedback from past events and wanted to give students a chance to hear the questions that their peers had and the respective answers from the advisors. This way they are exposed to areas or information, they would have never been exposed to otherwise. It was an unforeseen blessing Karapanagiotides saw first hand and described to us. “I wandered and listened in on these conversations; I actually noticed some of the students answering the younger student’s questions thus becoming a mentor themselves. This is literally one of the goals of our program, to make sure those that we mentor now, turn around one day and mentor the generation that comes after them. It’s a wonderful thing to witness.”
Another new addition this year is the scholarships. Hellenic Hearts is granting 15 $1,000 (or a total of $15,000) in scholarships to those going to college in the fall or are currently in college. They focus a ton on mentorship, and this was the next logical step for the program.
“We are so proud and applaud the board of Hellenic Hearts for setting this amount aside to help these kids out financially, even more so than they already do with the SAT program,” said Karapanagiotides. Scholarship applications can be found on Hellenic Hearts website for those that are interested.
Now, two years in, the organization looks to continue to grow. “I think one thing we would really like to see improve is our presence within all of the churches in the surrounding area. More specifically, we really need to raise awareness of our program to make sure that every child that could benefit from our program has the chance to do so”, said Karapanagiotides.
The EGP program will be a staple part of a diet for the next generation of Greek-Americans. It’s a unique and valuable asset that can be embraced by all and help build our community. One of the core values at EGP is to make the collective experience and resources of Hellenic Hearts accessible to the youth and to create an environment that builds confidence so that kids may reach whatever academic and professional goals they desire, regardless of their financial means or education levels. With that in mind, this program will certainly bring the community closer together and give the generations that will follow a chance to be successful and hopefully breed a never-ending cycle of mentorship and guidance for those in need.