The Entrepreneurial Student
Eleni Plemmenou, who graduated from the B.S. in Psychology program in 2022 is a stellar entrepreneurial student. Not in the usual sense of the term; she’s not starting her own business—at least, not yet—but as someone who approached her undergraduate studies with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Just as the business entrepreneur identifies marketplace opportunities and comes up with creative solutions to address unmet needs, Eleni sought out opportunities in and beyond the classroom for personal, professional, and academic development.
During her time at Hellenic American University, she served as president of the Marketing Club. In 2021, as part of the Club’s social marketing initiatives, she also helped connect the University to NGOs that are now affiliated with the Politis civic engagement program for undergraduate volunteers. These and other contributions to campus life were among the reasons she received the Presidents’ Leadership Award in 2021.
A key aspect of an entrepreneurial mindset is the willingness to assume risk and step out of one’s comfort zone. In her last year of studies, Eleni was selected to travel to Brussels with funding from the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education to take part in a special youth session of the Association’s annual conference, which discussed transformative innovations in education during the COVID-19 era. She was one of ten university students chosen among applicants across Europe.
“I thought the chance was slim, and almost did not send in my application,” she admits. But she eventually did, with the support and encouragement of the University’s Career Development Officer, who had taken a personal interest in the case. It was University Provost Dr. Themis Kaniklidou who first encouraged Eleni to apply. Like other faculty members, Dr. Kaniklidou has been keen to identify opportunities for Hellenic American University students to do internships, placements, and research projects. EURASHE approached her, as it had officers of other partner institutions in Europe, to suggest names of competent student applicants for the session. Eleni was one of the first students that came to mind. “She was the type of student who welcomes challenges as opportunities for growth.”
Successful entrepreneurs, contrary to the lone-wolf image many people draw of them, embrace teamwork, and seek opportunities to work with, and benefit from, other talented individuals. Eleni did the same during her undergraduate studies, not only in team projects in her classes, but also for the student newsletter, The Titan Chronicles, which she co-founded with her fellow students, Abby Renieris and Anna Rombotis. They came up with the newsletter idea when COVID broke out as an effort to keep the student community connected and creative. Working together as a team, they put out issues every month.
Today, Eleni is pursuing a two-year master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology and Health Communication at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan and the University of Lugano in Switzerland. Perhaps not surprisingly, she is also the program’s representative. She is currently conducting her thesis research at the University of Adelaide School of Medicine, where she also holds an honorary position of Clinical Associate Lecturer. She works alongside a multi-disciplinary team of linguists, psychiatrists, and specialists in neuroscience and health communication who are evaluating training programs for young medical students. Her own research focuses on doctor-patient communication in the pediatric mental health training unit.
Eleni believes that her success in this new phase of her academic and professional life is partly due to the advanced social competencies she acquired through her undergraduate journey and especially her engagement in campus clubs and student government.
But it is also almost certainly due to the entrepreneurial way she approached her education. Asked what advice she would give to first-year students, Eleni says “I would encourage them to be daring, in the sense of benefitting from—or even creating—opportunities for professional and academic growth.”