Thunderbird Welcomes Students from 36 Countries

August 23, 2012

Students to carry their country’s flag in ceremony tonight

This evening at 6:00 p.m., Thunderbird School of Global Management will welcome 242 incoming students from 36 countries with an Opening Ceremony and Flag Presentation.

The Flag Presentation is a decades-old Thunderbird tradition in which students carry the flags of their countries and share something special about their homeland. The event is a reminder that Arizona continues to welcome the global community. 
Here are some of the exceptional students who are pursuing a graduate degree:

Noelle Al-Abdulrahim (Al-Ab’dul-Ra’heem) dreamed of competing in the Olympics as an equestrian rider. But she grew up in Saudi Arabia, where women were not allowed to participate. This summer she watched the Olympics on television and cheered the first Saudi female competitors. For her part, Noelle plans to return to Saudi Arabia with her Thunderbird degree and help women break even more gender barriers.

Uchkun Tokhirov (ooch-koon toe-keer-off) is from Uzbekistan. He first arrived in the United States with a group of 14 exchange students in 2006. Many thought he would be the first in the group to complete a master’s degree, but instead he will be the last. He explains: “Rather than being the one who gets his master’s degree first among friends, I wanted to be the one who gets the most out of his MBA.” He used the extra time in Uzbekistan to gain experience as an internal controller and then as a senior auditor at the state commercial bank. Now he comes to Thunderbird with a GMAT score more than 200 points above his country’s average.

Barry Nyauke (nee-ow-kay) is from Kenya. Unlike many, who see Africa as a place for social service, Barry sees Africa as a place to do business. He says: “The continent is rapidly transforming, and it desperately needs human capital that will drive this transformation.” Barry will use his Thunderbird education to help bring business to Africa.

The Flag Ceremony will be held in the Thunderbird Events Center on the Thunderbird Campus. Media is invited to attend this highly visual event.

For more information or to schedule an interview, members of the media should contact Virginia Mungovan, Communications Specialist, at or (602) 978-7081.