Interview with Greek-American Law Student Elias Demopoulos

by Markos Papadatos

Walt Disney once said: "All our dreams come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." A Greek-American who suits this quotation is Elias Demopoulos, a full-time law student at New York Law School.

Both of Demopoulos' parents are originally from Greece. "My mother is from Evia and my father is from Nafpaktos. After they met, they came to the United States and they had my sister first, who is seven years older than me, and then they had me," says Demopoulos.

Demopoulos went to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox School in Astoria, until the sixth grade. "Although I loved my Greek experiences there, I wanted to experience some diversity in an educational setting, so I chose to go to Saint Francis Prep (SFP) High School in Fresh Meadows, as my school of choice. While at SFP, I did not abandon my Greek heritage. I was a member of its Greek Club for three years, and attended their International Night events and performed Greek dancing," says Demopoulos.

"I am in awe of Greek history and I enjoy Greek mythology such as classic texts by Homer such as The Odyssey and The Iliad. I still have an undying taste for the Greek music my father played for me when I was younger, such as those songs that fall in the 'demotika' and 'rembetika' genres," says Demopoulos. "I speak the Modern Greek language fluently and I appreciate the fact that my knowledge of it has provided me with a etymological sixth sense for words associated in the science field or on exams, such as the SAT," he adds.

Photo by Markos Papadatos

Demopoulos continues, "I love the Greek feasts. Every Easter holiday is enjoyable. I participated in the 2005 Greek parade with Fordham University. I participated extensively while I was at St. Demetrios." "As a young child, I was the flag bearer and even though it hurt me, I kept on holding the flag since it made my mom proud," Demopoulos laughs.

Demopoulos earned his Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude with a 3.89 GPA. He double-majored in Communications and Media Studies, as well as in Political Science. His outstanding academic performance earned him recognition in the National Dean's List, as well as Phi Beta Kappa and the Political Science Honor Society (Pi Sigma Alpha).

"I was at the Hellenic Society of Fordham University at Lincoln Center. My Master's degree in Public Communication was a one year extension program, which allowed me to continue being a part of the school's Hellenic Society." In graduate school, Demopoulos' GPA was a remarkable 3.95.

According to Demopoulos, "law is a medium of social awareness that affects every aspect of one's life, whether they like it or not. I applied to law school and I didn't have the urge to go to an Ivy League university, so I chose New York Law School in Downtown, Manhattan, which is near the Financial District and has a good tax program. This marked the beginning of my law career. Presently, I have earned High Honors, as well as Dean's List awards in every semester and maintained a 3.86 GPA. I expect to earn my JD degree in May of 2012. Six months after that, I will be preparing extensively for the BAR Exam, and as soon as I am ready, I will take it."

"One of my proudest accomplishments at New York Law School was being selected to be a part of its Law Review in my second semester there. Acceptance into the law review requires a high GPA and/or excellent writing skills. Its function parallels that of a publishing company. It receives and publishes articles from alumni and professors, as well as active members in the field," says Demopoulos. "As a requirement of being a member, I had to write a case comment, which is a legal critique on a recently decided federal or state court case. I chose one on the topic of probation and, to my surprise, I was selected for publication."

Demopoulos' plans for the future include earning his JD degree, and would like to pursue a career in entertainment law. "I wish to find a satisfying job in that field; if not, I would love to pursue real estate law. If that fails, I would like to open up a business, such as a real estate management company. One of the positives of having a law degree as a back-up is that it broadens your horizons."

In addition, Demopoulos is a member of the New York Law School's Hellenic Lawyers Association (HLA).

For the Greek-American youth who wish to follow into Elias' footsteps and pursue law, he recommends they "have the passion for it. They should also have the desire to sacrifice some of the things that they love in achieving their goals. If things do not come out the way they envisioned them, it is important to have a plan B to fall back on."

Demopoulos visits Greece every other summer. "My recent trips are around seven to ten days long. Kimi is my favorite place in Greece since the water is warm, the people are amazing, and the lifestyle is very laid back and relaxing."

Demopoulos' biggest influences are his own family. "Family is key! I thank my father for being supportive financially and for allowing me the freedom to pursue my law career with ease and without stress. I would also like to thank my mom for her emotional support and for always being there for me."

One of Demopoulos' biggest obstacles in life came when he herniated his L5-S1 disc in his back five years ago. "The pain still comes and goes after all these years. I went to over twenty doctors and had participated in many therapies and treatments. I was able to get through it with a lot of bed rest and the support of my parents."

Although Demopoulos does not have much spare time, he remarks "I enjoy participating in soccer in any way I can, as well as recording soccer games on TV and fast-forwarding through them. I also enjoy working out since I have to maintain a good physique for my back problem. I enjoy reading classic texts such as Machiavelli's The Prince and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I also like spending time with my Greek-Cypriot girlfriend, whom I've been dating for the past five years."

For Elias, the word success means "fulfillment in every aspect of my life; it does not have to be monetary or career-wise; it is important to have emotional and social stability in life."

Demopoulos concludes, "the Greek-American community consists of a vibrant group of people, who are enthusiastic, dedicated, with great family values; moreover, they are passionate about their religion and culture. I am very proud to be a part of it."

(Posting date 04 March 2011)

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