MVPs Together Again

John Evans and Aaron Thornburg

John Evans (left) and Aaron Thornburg during their Hornet soccer days

During their K days, Aaron Thornburg ’02 and John Evans ’02 were often together. After all, both majored in psychology, and both played on the Hornet men’s soccer team, where they shared MIAA championships (three) and team MVP honors. This year they are teaming up again.

In their junior year, 2001, John and Aaron spent a summer together in Guatemala City to train for their upcoming K soccer season and to conduct research for their Senior Individualized Projects. Thirteen years later they will be back in Guatemala City together, this time collaborating on a different scholarly initiative.

In June, the two Hornets will lead a group of some 20 Seattle University students on a Central American study abroad experience, part of a course Aaron developed called Cultural Intelligence and Global Business Communication. The project seeks to improve international leadership abilities among graduate and undergraduate students, so they may better facilitate constructive outcomes and effective cross-cultural interactions in global business.

Aaron’s interest in cultural intelligence dates to his first experience in international living—his K study abroad experience in Strasbourg, France. “The quarter in France opened my eyes to a world with a rich diversity of cultures. Because crossing borders will continue to grow in both frequency and importance, we all need to better understand how to function as leaders across cultural boundaries. Cultural intelligence is a crucial skill and aptitude in the world of business. But more importantly, it helps us understand and relate better to people with backgrounds different than our own. And that enables people to connect on a personal and empathetic level, which I believe is the foundation to a better world.”

After graduating from K, Aaron, an Okemos (Mich.) native, earned his J.D. and M.B.A. from Michigan State University. He then lived and worked in Asia, South America, and Europe. Currently, he resides in Seattle, Wash., where he teaches international business at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics.

Aaron’s résumé includes work at Instituto de Empresa (IE) (Madrid, Spain), a top-ranked international business school. One of his colleagues there was fellow classmate Justin Swinsick ’02, who served as the school’s executive director of international programs. Aaron’s time at IE also coincided with those of Lisa Emami ’02 and Nathan Burns ’03—a tribute to how international the K study body truly is!

John Evans’ international experience began before he even arrived at K. He grew up living part-time in Petoskey, Michigan, and part-time in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

After K, John earned his master’s degree in counseling psychology from Western Michigan University (2007). He worked one year as an admission counselor at K, and then attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he completed his doctorate in sport and exercise psychology. In North Carolina he worked with athletes with skill levels ranging from developmental to Olympic-class. Today John lives in Columbia, S.C. He works for the United States Army Training Center at Fort Jackson in the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program, sharing sport and performance psychology skills with soldiers and family members.

Buena suerte to both men this June. You can follow their Guatemala study abroad experience @GuateAbroad on Twitter and Instagram. Article by Ross Bower ’03