Becoming a T-bird: The Powerful Force of Love, Pain, & Drive

Jonas Narh

Jonas Narh

Thunderbird Alumni

Life in all forms is mysterious, but what makes homo sapiens unique is our thoughts and emotions — such a blessing, but they can sometimes be hard to bear. To nurture the human spirit, however, one must learn to take ownership of both, and your drive can facilitate this process. Several accounts throughout human history depict the incredible power of love, pain, and drive. How I ended up at the Thunderbird School of Global Management is no different. I couldn’t agree more with Ambassador Barbara M. Barrett when in response to a question from Dean Sanjeev Khagram at the October 2022 Ruebling Roundtable, she stated the defining qualities of T-birds as our entrepreneurial spirit and our brazen ability to stay unique. 

When I became a T-bird, I knew it was destiny. Never has a place felt like home. It was so good to be true that when I realized that’s the reality of this amazing community, I didn’t want to miss any opportunity to spread the word to prospective T-birds. From “mini–United Nations” to “a global village,” the adjectives are endless, but what impressed me the most was the appreciation of the individual differences and how the similarities fostered the community. I’m talking about a cohort of 150 students from 35 countries. This is the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University I experienced as a student a year online and a year in person in two different buildings. 

Aspirations usually emanate from love — whether love for oneself, another, or something else. Now your willingness to make the necessary sacrifices will determine how badly you want it. This can sometimes be a painful process, but your drive can help you sail through the storms. It can also be vice versa, where you aspire for better circumstances because of the pain from your current circumstances. Regardless of what your aspirations stem from, only your drive can keep you going. A strong drive is willing to experience whatever the journey has in store to get to the desired destination. This essentially means the acknowledgment of the ups and downs. I’ve been privileged to experience this multiple times, and my journey to and at Thunderbird was not an exception. Before I briefly go into details, the following post I recently shared on LinkedIn sums up what I’ve learned through these experiences.


In the last two months before moving to the United States to complete my Master of Global Management (MGM) program, I started a small venture playing saxophone birthday surprises at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s campus where I completed the first year of my MGM program online. The surprise was sometimes at midnight, with a short period of time to organize it. The most T-bird quality about this adventure was the fact that the saxophonist was someone I hired for such a similar surprise for a friend, and next afterward, we were doing business together. And oh, this is only one of the many business adventures I embarked before officially becoming a T-bird. Now let’s check the entrepreneurial spirit. 

At the end of my Bachelor of Business Administration degree, when I was soliciting feedback from my peers, some common themes were “different” and “weird.” After my Master of Global Management program, I realized that’s the way to be, especially as a T-bird. Why should you lose your individual characteristics to fit in? For what? Embrace your uniqueness and figure out how that can positively move the world forward. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Therefore, Ambassador Barbara Barrett’s definition of a T-bird was spot on for me, and this will undoubtedly require some love, pain, and a strong drive. To me, a T-bird is someone who can effectively manage the powerful force of love, pain, and drive, and of course, has been to The Pub!

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