A Three-Generation T-bird Family

teagarden dad and planeThunderbird has a rich history full of stories that date to the school’s beginnings as an airfield. Tied into that history is one family that has left its mark on campus over three generations.

In the middle of that story is Thunderbird Professor Mary Teagarden, Ph.D., who got a surprise when she first came to campus. “When I took the job at Thunderbird, my dad said, ‘Oh, I used to teach at Thunderbird, ’” Teagarden said.

She only knew her father as an Air Force pilot and thought he was joking until she walked through Thunderbird’s administration building. “There was a picture on the wall of my dad,” Teagarden said. “It is the only picture of someone teaching. He was a flight instructor here at Thunderbird during the Second World War.”

The story continues with Teagarden’s son, Ronald Teagarden ’12, who is scheduled to graduate from Thunderbird’s 20th Executive MBA class on Jan. 21, 2012. Even though the younger Teagarden has been exposed to global thinking his whole life, he said his experience at Thunderbird has delivered more than he expected.

“I pictured much of the learning that I would get from Thunderbird to be coming from professors and books I would read or lectures I would attend,” he said. “But in reality it’s the people that I am surrounded with that I end up learning incredible lessons from.”

He said the classroom diversity and overseas field seminars add richness to the Executive MBA program. “That immersion is the glue that holds all these pieces together,” he said.

Professor Teagarden also sees the value of the student relationships. “Here we educate people, but we build human connections that are powerful and strong,” she said. “Nobody loves a T-bird as much as another T-bird.”

Other families besides the Teagardens have multigenerational ties to Thunderbird. Thomas McIntyre ’12 became the school’s first third-generation student when he arrived in 2010. His father, Ralph McIntyre ’78, and his grandfather, the late Harvey McIntyre ’51, also studied at Thunderbird.

Professor Teagarden said she has taught some students and their children. “Nothing is quite as exciting as to have somebody come up to me and say, ‘You were my dad’s professor. You were my mom’s professor,’” she said. “That is just exciting to me.”

See the interview video below:
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