Greece’s First African-American Office Holder Credits Her Boston University Experience
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(Boston) — Yvette Jarvis took away more from Boston University than her experience as captain of the women’s basketball team in the late 1970s. She also learned a lesson in ethnic diversity that gave her confidence that she could thrive in another culture. That confidence guided her on an unusual expatriate’s journey which eventually led to becoming the first African-American elected to public office in Greece.
“Boston University prepared me for the idea of dealing with diversity,” Jarvis recently told a BU alumni gathering in Athens. “The lesson of diversity at BU, with the mixture of all the different kinds of people that were on campus … laid the groundwork for me to be able to say, ‘I can make Greece my home, I can do this.’”
After graduating from BU in 1979, Jarvis married a Greek basketball player she had met in Boston. They moved to Greece in 1982, where she quickly became a star in the Greek Women’s Basketball League. She leveraged a subsequent career as a fashion model and Greek television talk-show host to run for public office, winning a seat in the 41-member Athens City Council in 2002 on a platform of women’s issues and immigration reform.
Harkening to her BU experience, Jarvis now seeks to spread the values of diversity to her adopted homeland. “I was very glad to open up the doors for a multicultural society,” she told the BU alumni group. “One of my goals is to introduce diversity training to Greece, to its government, and its educational ministries.”
Boston University is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 students in its 17 schools and colleges, including more than 4,300 international students.