ACT Commencement Ceremony 2023
On Wednesday, 21 June 2023, ACT bade farewell to the graduating Class of 2023. The Commencement Ceremony occurred at the outdoor amphitheater of the ACT campus, marking the successful completion of a demanding academic period for the class of 2023.
Dr. Stamos Karamouzis, ACT Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs extended a warm welcome to all those graduates and their families who have traveled far to be present at the Commencement Ceremony. He underlined the institution's mission and contribution to society by instilling in students democratic and civic awareness, a sense of individual and social responsibility, and a spirit of esteem for others, social institutions, and the environment. Dr. Karamouzis thanked parents, family members, and faculty for the achievement of the graduating class.
This year's keynote speaker was Haig Basmadjian, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Nestlé USA and ACT Class of 2001 alumnus. Haig Basmadjian grew up in Thessaloniki and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the American College of Thessaloniki. In 2008 he obtained a Master's in Business Administration from INSEAD. He is currently the Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer of Nestlé USA, a subsidiary of Nestle, one of the world's largest Consumer Packaged Goods companies with revenue exceeding $100 billion. His responsibilities span managing a $15 billion portfolio of more than 30 brands of Nestlé in the US market, leading the long-term strategic planning process, unlocking growth opportunities through capital investments and acquisitions, and driving critical transformational and change-management initiatives. In his 20-year career, Mr. Basmadjian has worked in various commercial roles in Greece, France, Switzerland, and the US (Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Washington, DC). Before leaving Thessaloniki to start his career in Athens, he was also actively engaged in his family business, an exclusive supplier of high-quality materials to the shoe industry.
During his inspiring and encouraging speech, Mr. Basmadjian urged the graduates to embrace the challenges ahead with curiosity and determination. "If you remove the fear of failure and take a leap of faith, you will see firsthand that pushing beyond your comfort zone will lead to incredible personal growth." He stressed the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone and argued that Confidence and work ethic are critical pillars of success. "The world is filled with talented individuals, but it is those who are willing to put in the extra effort, go the extra mile, and consistently strive for excellence who rise above the rest," he pointed out, using examples of his own experience at ACT and his professional life and sharing memories and lessons learned from his Armenian ancestors who arrived in Greece in the early 1990s.
The ceremony proceeded with this year's Teaching Excellence Award. Celebrating the positive impact of ACT faculty, the Teaching Excellence Award honored Dr. Andreas Anestis, Assistant Professor of Biology. In addition to his excellent teaching, as testified by student and faculty feedback, Andreas has a solid research record, focusing lately on pandemic-related issues, and he has made a significant contribution to the development and launch of ACT's new Biological Sciences degree. Sevasti Kessapidou, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Executive Director, Lifelong Learning Center, and Evripidis Constantinidis, the newly elected President of the ACT Alumni Association, conferred the award to Mr. Anestis.
Mr. Emmanuel Maou, Chair of the Division of Science and Technology, presented the Valedictorian for the Undergraduate Class of 2023, Georgios – Panagiotis Katsonis, from Thessaloniki. Georgios started his studies at ACT in September 2019 and has been actively involved in extracurricular activities. His most recent achievements include a scientific paper publication at the 12th Scientific Conference of Medical School Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (March 2023).
Dr. Nikolaos L. Hourvouliades, Chair of Business Studies, announced the Valedictorian for the graduate class 2023, Ms. Dimitra Paneris, a student who came from Canada for her Master's and graduated with almost a perfect grade.
Ekaterina (Katya) Vasileva graduated with the highest Political Science and IR GPA. She received the William McGrew Award for Excellence in International Relations from Dr. Maria Kyriakidou, Chair of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Roxanne Giampapa, Head of Pinewood - American International School. Katya had an overall GPA of 3.90. She was a NATO Innovation Hub Intern and then a Fellow, and she participated in the summer school ACT co-organized with the University of Jena in Kavala in 2022 with great motivation.
Eleni (Elli) Tsachtani received the Alki Kyriakidou-Nestoros Memorial Prize for Excellence in Liberal Arts for 2023. Ellie has earned 3.97, the highest grade point average within the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a non-traditional student with multiple degrees, a professional musician, passionate about psychology, and a real-life example that 'learning never ends.' Dr. Panos Vlachos, Anatolia College President, and Dr. Aimiliza Stefanidou, Coordinator of Psychology Programs, conferred the award on her.
This year the Stavros Niarchos Award for Excellence in Computing was presented to Ioannis Kiakos, a highly active student who has served as a Lead of the newly established ACT - Google Developers Student Club, currently a Fellow at the ACT NATO Innovation Hub as well as the founder of Fight Club Hellas.
Antonios Flokas received the Athletic Award, which recognizes the achievements of its graduating members in sports. ACT sports are about sportsmanship, fun, and improving your teammates. This year's award recipient ticks all of these boxes, consistently demonstrating leadership and respect on the court. Haig BasmadjianS and Stepan Partemian, Athletic and Student Activities Coordinator presented the award.
Antonios Pagonis and Adina Gjoshe read the graduation pledge.
Dr. Panos Vlachos, Anatolia College President, presented the Class of 2023 and congratulated all students for their efforts and achievements.