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Blugold alum from Greece to share impressions of life in America during ‘Thursdays at the U’

| Linda Tollefsrud and Diane Walkoff

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire alumni Shelley and Ben Kyriagis returned to campus last spring and visited Room 317 of Schneider Hall where they first met in 1975. (Submitted photo)

Ben (Evangelos) Kyriagis was born in Greece and first came to America in 1971 as a high school exchange student in Barron. He returned in 1974 to attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1978 and an MBA in 1981.

Before Kyriagis left Greece for UW-Eau Claire, his mother’s only advice/admonition was not to marry an American. He promised that he would not and would return to Greece after graduation. However, in his second year at UW-Eau Claire, he met and fell in love with another Blugold. You can guess what happened to his promise!

On Thursday, Dec. 8, Kyriagis will tell his story of falling in love with an American and America when he presents “Impressions of America: 1972-2022” as part of the “Thursdays at the U” series at UW-Eau Claire  – Barron County. The presentation will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall in Ritzinger Hall and will be livestreamed.

After working for two large American corporations, Kyriagis founded his own international trading company, WTN Electronics, which took him to 30 countries, including China and Japan, as well as most European countries. He and his wife, Shelley Kyriagis, a 1976 UW-Eau Claire management graduate, live in Minneapolis, but they spend their summers in Greece. After Ben's mother met Shelley, she was happy her son did not follow her marriage advice. After all, parents don’t know everything!

Ben Kyriagis’ memoir, “Don’t Marry An American,” was published by Epidexion Books of Minneapolis in 2021 and is available through Amazon and many bookstores.

The “Thursdays at the U” weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. Neither seating reservations nor parking permits are needed for campus guests.

The final presentation for the fall series will be Thursday, Dec. 15, with Dave Mills presenting “Cow Tales: Memories of a Rural Vet.”

For more information about the series, call the campus at 715-788-6244 or email Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, the series organizer, at