Kris Togias

Kris Togias
© Vito Aluvia

Dental student forges a special bond with his benefactor

"This scholarship found me," says Kris Togias, who is in his final year at Tufts School of Dental Medicine. Togias was awarded the Dr. Charles G. Chigas Scholarship Fund for Students of Hellenic Extraction during his second year of dental school. But what was an even greater surprise was that he was awarded the scholarship for a second time this year.

Chigas, A40, D44, established the scholarship fund so that he would have the opportunity to change students' lives. He had planned to bequeath the scholarship funds to the dental school, but he did not see the benefit in waiting to make a difference in the education of dental students. "Why not give a deserving student, right now, an opportunity to study at a great school like Tufts?" Chigas said when he funded the scholarship.

The benefit in not waiting is immeasurable because it has allowed Chigas to get to know the student he is helping to earn a dental degree.

That benefit works both ways. Many times students do not have the opportunity to know the people who make a profound difference in their lives. Togias is reaping the rewards of a scholarship and the chance to know his benefactor.

Chigas and his wife, Florence, came to visit the dental school during the first year that Togias received the scholarship. Togias showed them around the school. Not only did Togias learn about how dental medicine has changed since Chigas' student days, but he also was encouraged by the happiness and success of the Chigases, who live in Clearwater, Fla.

"It is so wonderful to see that after all of the hard work, they are enjoying life," says Togias, who was raised in Greece and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester. "You can be successful and enjoy your life and your partner. [The Chigases] are like best friends, and that is wonderful to see. They give me a lot of hope for my future."

Seeing that the hard work spent in dental school pays off and that it gets easier as time progresses put his education into perspective, Togias says. The Chigases "are an inspiration," he says.

Because of Togias' strong connection with Chigas and because they have kept in touch, the dental school awarded Togias the Chigas scholarship for a second time. The second year will give Chigas an opportunity to see how the recipient of his scholarship is affected over a longer period of time. It allows Togias the continued chance to reap rewards that go beyond the financial.

Putting what he has learned from Chigas about dentistry and the work-life balance into practice, Togias has maintained his position as president of the Class of 2004. "This role is a pleasure because I have a chance to make a difference," says Togias. And making a difference in people's lives is something he shares with his mentor, Charles Chigas.