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 alunni 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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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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
A passion for real estate investment comes naturally for entrepreneur Jim Small ’04, who grew up in a family that moved 15 times during his childhood. “I always found it interesting and exciting to check out new houses,” says Small, the founder and managing director of Arizona-based Santé Realty Group.
U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat Larry Edward André, Jr. '88 to serve as ambassador to the West African nation of Mauritania, the White House announced on Sept. 10, 2013. André has extensive experience in Africa, most recently serving as acting envoy and director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to this role, he served as deputy executive director for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2010 to 2011. He also served in Tanzania from 2008 to 2010, in Kenya from 2006 to 2008, and in Sierra Leone from 2002 to 2004.
Before earning an MBA at Thunderbird, André received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claremont McKenna College in California.
Saad Abdul-Latif ’81, the CEO of PepsiCo's Asia, Middle East and Africa Division and a member of Thunderbird's Board of Fellows, died Aug. 19, 2013, while on vacation with his family in Italy.
Fred Koppl ’52, a Holocaust refugee featured in the spring 2013 issue of Thunderbird Magazine, died June 12, 2013, in Germany. Koppl was honored as the oldest alumni at the 2010 and 2012 Thunderbird European reunions, and he was a regular at Thunderbird First Tuesday events in Munich.