Thunderhiking Builds Bonds between Students, Faculty and Staff

Students, Faculty and Staff come together to reach Black Mountain Summit
Students, Faculty and Staff come together to reach Black Mountain Summit

By: Marissa Burkett, Audio/Visual Editor

Thunderhiking was born out of a desperate situation. Emma Livingston (MBA, 16’) and Xiaoshi (Shawn) Quan (MA, 15’) conceived of the notion after making the drive to Tucson to hike but encountered rain instead. The pair turned the unfortunate weather into an opportunity. Over omelets, Thunderhiking was born. “A lot of people would come up to me and ask ,’Why don’t you tell me when you are going hiking. I want to join you!’” says Quan, “So, we thought, ‘Why not start a hiking club?’ so that we can get everyone involved.”

The hiking club has completed around ten hikes, with an average of seven people per trip since their inception at Club Day. Unlike other student clubs, Thunderhiking’s list includes faculty, staff, and students from the Executive MBA program. “Thunderfamilies, wives, and kids come as well,” says Quan. “My favorite hike is in the Superstition Mountains. It’s a 9-mile hike but it’s beautiful.”

Thunderhiking with the EMBAs and Ian Dowdy
Thunderhiking with the EMBAs and Ian Dowdy

On April 12, Thunderhiking joined the EMBA students on a hike to the White Tank Mountains. The group of T-Birds was accompanied by the Executive Director of the Sonoran Institute, Ian Dowdy. The Sonoran Institute is a nonprofit conservation organization that works bi-nationally, across the Western U.S. and Mexico to promote harmony between people and the natural world. Sonoran Institute Development Officer and Thunderbird EMBA student, Emily Brott, helped in the planning as well, bringing the EMBAs into the mix.

“The focus of our hike was to talk about the White Tank Mountain Conservancy, which we at the Sonoran Institute are helping incubate and launch into its own formal 501(c)3 nonprofit,” says Brott. “Since the beautiful land surrounding the White Tanks is all slated for housing, the White Tank Mountain Conservancy is working with the development community to preserve critical wildlife corridors, recreation amenities, and cultural sites so the mountains continue to thrive and be a place of roaming and respite for people and critters alike.”

Quan went on to further note that Mr . Dowdy helped the immediate group of hikers better know how to preserve the landscape when on a hike and identify flora and fauna along the trail.

The hike went beyond environmentalism to further the relationship between the full-time students and the EMBA classes. “The EMBAs were really excited about getting in touch with us and we exchanged contact information,” says Quan. “A lot of members asked me to add them to the Thunderhiking email list. I think that it would be a great opportunity to engage them in campus life.”

The EMBAs felt the same. According to Brott, “We discovered many of the full-time Thunderhikers are involved in Thunderbird for Good, and our EMBA class is going to ask them to give us a presentation, because many of us are interested in Thunderbird for Good as well.”

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