Betty Tsakarestou, a versatile academic and research professional in the field of media and communications, participated in a Study of the U.S. Institute for Scholars (SUSI) program on Journalism and Media at Ohio University in 2015. Her exchange experience was one of self-discovery, enabling her to challenge her way of thinking and learn to work in a multicultural environment. The SUSI program afforded her the opportunity to connect with fellow academics from across the globe, creating a space for mutual understanding and collaboration.
Just one month after her return to Greece, these connections inspired the project Connecting Cities, which Betty founded along with four other SUSI alumni (Andrea Mino of Ecuador, Lin Yan of China, Patricio Contreras of Chile, and Sara Manusoga of Uganda). Connecting Cities aims to build an innovative multimedia, mobile and digital storytelling diplomacy platform connecting five cities and countries across four continents. Through immersive storytelling narratives, students aged 18 to 24 engage in a global dialogue about civic engagement and urban challenges working towards innovative local solutions and global collaboration. Their stories, which range from discussing climate change affecting cities to the impact of Uber to art in cities, are featured on medium the platform for people to write articles and tell their stories. This project has been prominently featured in Greek media, and has helped garner positive support for exchange programs in Greece.
Betty has also implemented numerous concepts from her program in her academic work at Panteion University where she currently serves as an Assistant Professor and the Head of the Advertising and Public Relations Lab for the Department of Communication, Media and Culture. Since her exchange, Betty has introduced a new course on entrepreneurial journalism; re-designed curriculum utilizing the Learning Model Canvas; organized a graduate research workshop on qualitative research methods, and much more! Additionally, she has continued to work closely with U.S. Mission Greece and fellow alumni, most notably through her participation in the “Women Changing Greece” video series, which U.S. Embassy Athens launched on International Women’s Day in 2017 as part of the #BeBoldForChange campaign. Betty’s outstanding work in the realms of academia, media, and entrepreneurship has helped to connect students across the globe, and further cultivated the local and global exchange alumni network.
Each month, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Office of Alumni Affairs recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Betty Tsakarestou is this month’s outstanding alumna, and her work will be recognized throughout the month on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official website which serves more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.