I don’t remember too much about my first day at Thunderbird, then known as the American Institute for Foreign Trade (AIFT). Immediately after my graduation ceremony at UCLA in January of 1965 I drove all night from L.A to Glendale, Arizona to register at Thunderbird. After being assigned a dorm room with three other guys I met with a counselor and selected my classes. I also took a Spanish placement test and then made a visit to the book store that was located in one of the old hangar buildings.
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When Renée (Hevenor) Norman ’83 and Christopher Heald Norman ’83 graduated from Thunderbird, the world was wide open to them. Three years out of graduate school, the couple married. They moved to Richmond, Virginia. They had two children, Charlie and Clemie. From the looks of things, their future was bright. But 21 years into their marriage, everything changed.
Andrew Lubin ’75 was on Iwo Jima in March to attend the 69th Anniversary Reunion of Honor Ceremony. Held by the U.S. Marines and Japanese Self-Defense Forces to commemorate the courage and determination of both sides in WW2’s most costly battle, Gen James Amos, Commandant, USMC, spoke, as did the Hon Mr. Nobou Kishi, Japan’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Charles “Chuck” Whitcomb ’54 has a mini Thunderbird reunion every time his family gets together . His daughter, Laura Whitcomb ’80, and his son-in-law Terry Healow ’85 (married to Charles Whitcomb’s daughter, Deb) are also Thunderbird graduates. Chuck Whitcomb, 86, serves on the Board of Directors at First Bank of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Laura Whitcomb, who worked for many years at American Express, is a homemaker and part-time worker at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Healow is a federal bankruptcy lawyer in Butte, Montana.
Caption: Charles Whitcomb ’54, center, attends his grandson’s graduation from Montana State University on May 4, 2013, in Bozeman, Montana. Fellow Thunderbirds Laura Whitcomb ’80 and Terry Healow ’85 are also pictured.
As a certified career coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, Michael Seaver ’10 welcomes the challenge of helping business professionals unlock their potential. “I help people see themselves as the CEO of their own brand,” said Seaver, named by the Arizona Republic as one of 35 top Arizona entrepreneurs 35 and younger in fall 2013. “I help people identify their strengths, and then we figure out how to sell that on a piece of paper or on LinkedIn.”
Starting on March 3, 2014, Seaver will focus full-time on helping Thunderbirds worldwide as Director of Career Management, Alumni Services and Engagement at the school’s Career Management Center in Arizona. The position is part of the school’s broader commitment to provide career services for life for all Thunderbird alumni. “This opportunity in many ways has brought me home,” Seaver said. “It feels good to come back to Thunderbird and build the brand that changed my life.”
Book your travel now for a Thunderbird alumni reunion at sea Feb. 14-19, 2015. Alumni and their guests will embark on a five-night cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Belize City, Belize and then Cozumel, Mexico, on Royal Caribbean’s world-class Liberty of the Seas. The event is a school-sponsored “off-shore homecoming” organized by a group of alumni that vows to create an extraordinary experience for the school’s biggest asset — it’s alumni community.
Halloween does not normally include the U.S. custom of trick-or-treating in Barcelona, Spain, but T-bird Rachel Abaqueta Leluc ’97 decided to change that in 2013. She solicited support from several stores with international brands in Plaza Catalunya and La Rambla, and then invited families from the community to participate. “We successfully created an authentic trick-or-treating experience on Oct. 31 in central Barcelona with 17 participating stores and 70 trick-or-treaters accompanied by their parents,” Abaqueta said. “It was adorable.” In addition to coordinating community events, Abaqueta serves as a Thunderbird alumni chapter leader in Barcelona with Rene Van Baardewijk ’91, Maria Gonzalez Paz ’99, Antonio Vendrell Barbera ’01, Mark Maltby ’02 and Andres Lozano ’03.
A Thunderbird degree paid quick dividends for Brazilian alumnus Gabriel Frank ’10, who landed a position as Groupon’s Director of Human Resources for Latin America within two years of finishing the traditional MBA program. “I wouldn’t have made that leap without Thunderbird,” said Frank, who manages Groupon activities in nine countries from his São Paulo base. “Every single day I use my Thunderbird skills.”
World Language Schools founder and CEO Carlos A. Roncal ’75 helped bring 34 Colombian youth to the United States in October 2013 to build cultural understanding through a communication tool more universal than Spanish or English. The members of El Retiro Youth Symphonic Band from rural Antioquia, Colombia, shared the power of music during a weeklong concert series at schools and other venues in Frisco, Texas. For all of the young performers, the trip was their first outside Colombia.