Lucy Kanatsoulis is a business consultant turned college admissions officer. No one ever grows up saying “I want to become a dean of admissions!” It’s one of those jobs that one stumbles into and only understands its complexities when one actually does it…
Tell us a little about yourself
I was raised in Athens and lived in London and New York, where I worked as a business consultant for investment banks. Fifteen years ago I decided to give in to my inner Greek and return to Athens, where I currently live and work as the Dean of Admissions at Deree – The American College of Greece. Working in such a beautiful environment where I have the potential to help students and change their lives, remains an inspiration to me despite the difficult times we are facing.
What were the major difficulties you’ve faced in the last five years?
Certainly the current economic crisis has created a sense of uncertainty for all Greeks. And unfortunately, uncertainty is a toxic foundation for growth that highlights even further the problems of Greece – resistance to change, lack of opportunities, absence of inspirational political leadership. Admissions is incredibly personal—you’re asking applicants to open up their lives to you and on many occasions I witness the anxiety and depression that young people and their families face today. The feeling of being “swallowed up” by the current situation takes over your dreams and hopes. Coping with this uncertainty and anxiety has been one of the major difficulties I have faced.
Did anyone in particular inspire you or help you?
When I returned to Greece, I was desperate to find a job that would make me happy and give me some meaning. Through a friend I met Nikos who introduced me to the world of “education”. This person has unique values and an exceptional approach to life: Inspired by education and committed to service, he motivated me to take the job because I believed in the institution, I loved doing right by students, and I hoped to use it as a platform to make a difference in young people’s lives.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
At this point I have decided to live for the moment. The current situation of uncertainty prohibits me from making any short-term or long-term plans. Even summer vacation is a spur of the moment decision. An eternal planner, it has taken a huge effort on my part not to plan for the future and take every day as it comes.
What are your hopes for Greece? What changes do you hope to see happen?
I hope for Greece to make a comeback – I believe that the foundations of this comeback lie in the proper education of the future generation, both at home and at school. Greek families need to inspire a work ethic, honesty and ideals for change and through education we need to provide the knowledge, opportunities and team spirit to achieve this.
Have you considered leaving? If so, where would you like to go, and why?
Yes. I often find myself flirting with the idea of moving to Canada, a place I have never visited but a country that I feel represents the best of what both Europe and America has to offer with inspirational leadership that creates opportunities. However, this still remains a flirtation and my inner Greek has not given up – leaving my country, my home and my job is not something I am ready to do yet.
Are you actively doing anything to help with the situation? Is there something you would like to do?
Working in education enables you to impact young people’s lives through scholarship programs, funded study abroad opportunities, international internship programs, and academic counseling that indirectly contributes to changing Greece’s future. I also participate in volunteer community actions organized by the College to help those afflicted by the crisis. I always feel, though, that I could do more…
How do you see Greece in 5, 10 years?
Unfortunately I do not believe much will have changed in 5 or 10 years. For us to actually see a different Greece and a change in the deeply rooted Greek mentality we will have to wait for the next generation to take over and this might take longer than 5 or even 10 years. It is impossible to predict but I remain hopeful.
How do you cope with obstacles and frustrations in your everyday life?
For many people like myself coping with the daily Greek frustrations has become a challenge.
Many times, I find that it takes all my inner strength to try and put things in perspective and continue with my daily life. There are good days and gloomy days. In these times, I try to nurture the stability that I have, focus on my family, job and friends, and alleviate as much of uncertainty that I can.
What are the positive sides of living in Greece? Have you had any good experiences lately?
The Greek summer: the smell of jasmine in the evening breeze, open air cinemas, starlit skies, the sound of the sea, sand on your bare feet, fresh fish at a taverna by the sea, open windows, the taste of succulent summer fruit, hair flowing freely, scanty linen and cotton clothes, bare skin and summer wine! As my husband so eloquently puts it: In spite of Greece’s financial plight, the sun still shines so strong and bright!