NEW YORK (St. John's)--The baby boomer generation is now reaching retirement age. Marriages among all ethnic and racial groups are bringing about rapid assimilation in mainstream America. The Greek ethnic group is not an exception to this trend. Who is going to carry on our Hellenic heritage and religious traditions into the 21st century? St. John's University Modern Greek language Program of the Languages and Literatures Department presented its 2nd Annual Greek Independence Day lecture on Tuesday afternoon, February 28th. Sophia Hall, a third generation Greek-American radio Journalist from the mid-west was guest speaker. Dr. Marie Lise Gazarian, Chairman of the Languages and Literatures Department, Prof. Catherine Tsounis and Dr. John G. Siolas personally welcomed Miss Hall to the campus. Yvonne Cassimatis and Spiro Kostaras were student moderators. The journalist, who is 29 years old, has achieved national success at WCBS 880 radio station. The story of her life and career inspired the seventy students present.
"I come from a Greek-American family in Youngstown, Ohio," she said. "My great grandmother Sophia immigrated to the United States thinking the streets were paved with gold. Our grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins lived within a block of each other. My father was not raised Greek. But, he went to Greek school to learn the language. He became the parish council president of the Greek Orthodox Church in Youngstown, Ohio. My mother, Georgia, did not know how to speak English until she was four years old. My parents have been married since 1972 and have three children. Our family is from the island of Crete. Greek dancing was very popular in our household."
Miss Hall surprised the college audience by saying "[My] mother is the reason I went to college. She saw something in me. She actually picked out my career, radio journalism. She used to drive one hour and 45 minutes to take me to college. She believed in me. My mother gave me my start in life."
Her first job in a radio station at Meridian, Mississippi was "an eye opener in life. My salary was so low, my parents sent me $150 a month to live. I worked three jobs and kept focused. What does not kill you makes you stronger. No one feels a woman can be successful without sleeping to get ahead. I made my own opportunities through hard work and competence."
The radio journalist graduated with an AA degree in radio/television from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. Her second degree was a BA in Television from Columbia College in Chicago. She began her career in Meridian, Mississippi, as a reporter on television and radio. From there, she moved back to Ohio to work in Youngstown as a radio anchor/reporter, until she acquired a job in Cleveland, Ohio. A year later she was hired at CBS Radio in NYC. She has been at CBS for over four years.
"The Greek American community embraced me on Long Island," she explained. "I am member of the Archangels Church in Glen Cove. Every Easter I return to Ohio in order to decorate the Epitafio (Christ's tomb) on Good Friday. I do not party, go to bars or drink alcohol. I work three jobs. My volunteer work includes working at local animal shelters, the Philoptohos Society of my church and the Cancer Center for kids at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola. I am the spokesperson for Estelle's Dressy Dresses in Farmingdale, Long Island."
"I report on everything from court cases, crimes and charity events on Long Island and New York City," said Miss Hall. "My broadcasts are on CBS 880 AM, Tuesdays through Saturdays. I am normally on the air every hour. If you have a news tip for the Long Island Bureau, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com or fax me at (516) 742-8616."