Class Notes

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A family of Thunderbirds

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.

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T-bird hired to help alumni with career services

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.”

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Alumni organize 2015 ThunderCruise from Florida to Belize

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.

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T-bird delivers trick-or-treating to Barcelona

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.

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Brazilian T-bird leaps ahead at Groupon

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.”

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T-bird helps bring Colombian musicians to U.S.

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.

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T-bird inducted into Arizona State Sports Hall of Fame

Arizona State University has inducted former Hungarian junior national champion Reka Cseresnyes ’01 into its Sports Hall of Fame for her achievements on the Sun Devils tennis team before coming to Thunderbird. Cseresnyes was the first ASU freshman to earn All-American honors in women’s tennis, and the program’s first four-time All-American. She was honored with six other Sun Devil greats during a halftime ceremony on Oct. 12, 2013, at the ASU football game against the University of Colorado (see ASU news release). “It was a great honor,” said Cseresnyes, who attended the ceremony with her husband and three children. Her mother also traveled from Hungary to witness the event.

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T-bird steers winning Formula 1 partnership

Automotive marketing guru Andreas Sigl ’95 celebrated in the winner’s circle on Oct. 27, 2013, when Infiniti Red Bull Racing secured its fourth consecutive driver’s championship at the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi. Sigl, a German expatriate based in Switzerland, has served as Infiniti’s global director of the Formula 1 partnership since 2011. Previously, Sigl was Infiniti’s general manager for Global Brand Innovation.

The championship Formula 1 team, led by German driver Sebastian Vettel, has dominated the 2013 season with 10 Grand Prix victories and 18 podium finishes. Infiniti deepened its partnership with the team at the start of the 2013 season, becoming the title and vehicle performance partner.

While in Switzerland, Sigl stays connected to Thunderbird’s European headquarters in Geneva. On several occasions he has hosted Executive MBA students at Infiniti’s offices in Rolle. “Thunderbird changed my life,” Sigl said during a 2008 interview with Thunderbird Magazine.

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Can you beat this Thunderbird passport?

A standard U.S. passport comes with 48 pages, which proved too thin for Thunderbird expatriate Larry Lipsher ’65. His recently expired passport swelled to 288 pages — with 10 supplemental sections glued inside to contain all of the entrance visas. Most of the stamps document Lipsher's frequent travels between Shenzhen, China, and his office in Hong Kong, where he has worked as an accountant since the 1980s. Other stamps show his travels to Cambodia, Thailand, Macau and other Southeast Asian locales. Lipsher, originally from New York, arrived in Shenzhen in the 1980s when the special economic zone was little more than a Chinese fishing village. His expired passport, which is more than one-inch thick, is now on display in Thunderbird's alumni lounge. If other alumni have stories to tell about their passports, Thunderbird Magazine would love to hear them. Please send photos and descriptions to

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