Ripon education lays foundation for life’s accomplishments

Andreas Antoniou Melas, ’73 of Lincolnshire, Illinois, had a long and successful career as a technologist and manager, and now has recently published a history book, “Three Hellene Cypriots: A Personal Journey and Commentary on Cyprus Modern History to 1950.”

His accomplishments, he says, are due to the liberal arts and sciences education he received at Ripon College as a full scholarship recipient.

Melas was born in Cyprus and came to the United States at the age of 16 as an American Field Service scholarship recipient. He stayed with the Portegys family, whose son, James, had been a student at Ripon College before dying in an auto accident.

“His family stayed very close to Ripon,” he says. “I adopted them, and they adopted me in many ways. I received a full scholarship so I could afford to come to Ripon and study chemistry. I’ve always been very grateful for that.”

He did graduate studies in chemistry and materials science at Northeastern University, Boston, and in management at Harvard University. During his career, he contributed to the development of technology that produces lasers for optical fiber communication, high-efficiency solar cells, L.E.D.’s for displays, signage, lighting, televisions and more.

“All of those became possible to be developed and used in everyday devices with chemicals and technology that I helped develop in the ’80s and ’90s,” he says.

He believes in lifelong learning and peaceful settlement of differences among peoples, and he wanted to explore the turbulent history of his homeland. Now that he is semi-retired, he found the time to devote to the undertaking.

“Normally, you don’t expect chemists to write history books,” he says. But the history and philosophy he studied at Ripon has stayed with him through the years.

“Three Hellene Cypriots” covers the history of modern Cyprus through the first half of the 20th century and through the lives of three remarkable Cypriots. “It tries to explain what happened there through three different leaders,” Melas says. “They were selfless, they stood for freedom, and I thought it was important for them to be commemorated and for younger people to know. The love of freedom is universal.”

He says the book includes reflections based on philosophy classes he took with Vance Kope-Kasten at Ripon. “There is a lot of data, information and people saying things,” Melas says. “Kope-Kasten would ask, ‘How do you know what is true?’ Since I was writing the book, I didn’t want to write a lot of untruth. I’m speaking about the country where I was born. A lot has been written and analyzed about it. I took it as a journey going through the history, analyzing and thinking about it, trying to be fair and effective to all parties.”

The book has earned widely favorable reviews.

“I felt what I learned at Ripon was important,” Melas says. “It was a foundation for me. With Ripon being a liberal arts college, I acquired studies in various areas, very professionally and concentrated. It was just right for me.”


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