Staff Spotlight: Jessica Beard Thornton


What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is hiking through the rice fields in Vietnam. It was as if you fell off the map and were enveloped by the country. It felt like true, authentic immersion. You were a local. You were a traveler. You were just a fellow human.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I understand on a much deeper level both the challenge and significance that a global opportunity such as Global Players can have on a student-athlete. As athletes, they can be one track minded, tunnel visioned.

Global Players allows them the chance to open the window in expanse. To be able to offer that chance is incredibly impactful on both the student and myself, as the Director.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

My favorite stories are from the student-athlete's experiences off the beaten track. In Guatemala some of our lacrosse student-athletes were asked to be on a Spanish-speaking radio program interviewing athletes about their visit.

These students walked away from the experience having a renewed pride in their sport and what they represent having seen it through a different lens - it's moving.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would probably go on our Prague program. It is one of the most beautiful locations in the world with such a rich history. And the Czech people are competitors. You get a little bit of everything with this program.

As far as our team tours go, I would go to Cuba. What an amazing country with such opportunity to truly immerse yourself, and be a traveler not a tourist.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Our company is unique in its core values. We do not just want to give lip service to study abroad or "global experience". We want the experience to truly change our students from the inside out.

There is so much opportunity to affect change in our students and in the international communities where we visit through the vehicle of sport. And it's just the beginning.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Focusing on those core values and believing in the movement with passion. It is also vital that we build a team that shares these values in order to execute our programs to their fullest potential.

We are successful because we are authentic and determined to push the envelope on study abroad with creative, customized programs that focus on our special group - student-athletes.

In this chaotic world we live in right now, unity and compassion is imperative. We have made this our mission so I have no doubt we will continue to be a catalyst for diversifying study abroad and affecting change through sport.