On February 17, Chicago area Hellenic Student Associations will host the 14th annual PanHellenic Youth Ball. Ahead of the event, we asked members why they got involved. Find out!
Hellenic Student Association
Many university campuses throughout the U.S. have a Hellenic Student Association (HSA). Typically, these organizations are made up of members of Greek descent. Occasionally, people will join that are not Greek, because they are interested in the culture. HSAs support members with networking and scholarship opportunities. They also celebrate and promote Greek culture, and are a place where lifelong friendships are made.
We always hear that “We’re losing the youth”, or “The youth aren’t interested in celebrating their culture and heritage. We always disagree with those statements, because we see the youth so actively involved. HSAs prove those statements wrong.
For the past 14 years, the Chicago area HSAs from DePaul University, Loyola University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), University of Chicago (UChicago) have come together to host a charity event. Students from all colleges all over the Midwest attend, including Elmhurst College, North Park University, Harper College, College of DuPage, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ohio State, University of Wisconsin, and Michigan State. This year, the PanHellenic Youth Ball will take place on February 17. We thought this was a perfect time to ask some of the members why they joined, and why HSAs are important. Read on.
Q&A with members of Chicago area Hellenic Student Associations
Maria A. Karamitsos: Why did you join the HSA?
George Kitsios, University of Chicago HSA President: Back in New York, I helped run my high school’s Hellenic Student Association. So when I came to Chicago for college, I was looking for that familiarity that I think is really unique to meeting other Greeks. As a result, I’ve been really fortunate to not only meet other Greeks at UChicago, but at so many other colleges in the area as well.
Demetra Arianas, UIC HSA President: Being Greek and being involved in the Greek community was something I’ve always been proud of from a young age. I joined UIC’s HSA my freshman year and I have made some of my best college memories through HSA. I have formed lifelong bonds while keeping my Hellenic pride alive through our various events. UIC HSA was a great way for me to become involved, display leadership, and connect all the Hellenic youth at UIC while promoting educational, social, and philanthropic events. As I graduate this semester, I’m realizing just how much I will miss this association but realize how lucky I was to attend a university that had such a strong HSA.
MAK: Why should young Greeks join the HSA at their university?
Panagiotis Zografos, Loyola HSA President: I believe HSA has not only given me the opportunity to connect with many other Greeks around the city, but it also brought me close to my best friends. HSA meets once a week at Loyola so people get to meet up and relax for a little bit, taking a break from the stresses of school.
Taso Kokkinias, UIC HSA Treasurer: I joined UIC HSA my sophomore year and quickly realized that I wished I had joined sooner. As a member of UIC HSA, I was able to partake in various social, volunteer, sporting, and educational events that brought me to some of my closest college friends. Through HSA I was able to express my love for the Greek culture while having fun.
Antonia Stroponiatis, DePaul HSA, President: My first friends in college were people that I met in HSA. I believe that HSA on college campuses is somewhat like a ‘home base’ for students to have that immediate connection with others. Its’ rekindled old friendships, brought together new ones, and I continue to see it bring people together all the time.
MAK: Let’s talk about the PanHellenic Youth Ball. Why continue to come together to host it? Has the original purpose changed at all?
Demetra Arianas: The purpose of the Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball has always been to socially unite the Hellenic youth of the Midwest, while raising money for a charity or person in need (typically someone in the Hellenic community). This is my 3rd year as a member of the Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball planning committee, and through my involvement I have been able to connect with our current and past donor recipients and see just how much our contributions impact them and their families. Although many people only focus on the social aspect of Youth Ball, many lives have been benefited and I’m humbled to have been part of such a great cause.”
MAK: This year, the proceeds with benefit Kosta Flevaris. Tell us about this.
Demetra Arianas: We decided to donate the event proceeds to Kosta because of his great contributions to the Greek community, especially in the college sphere. After connecting with Kosta, I learned that he helped found UIC’s HSA and also helped organize the first-ever Youth Ball held 14 years ago. Kosta had a difficult year I think it is great that an event that he helped start can now give back to him.
MAK: Tell us about this year’s event.
Demetra Arianas: The 14th Annual Pan-Hellenic Youth Ball will be held on Saturday, February 17th from 7:00-11:00 pm at the Embassy Suites Downtown Magnificent Mile. Get tickets here. Email us for questions.
Connect with the Chicago area Hellenic Student Associations: