April 01, 2014

To say All-America runner Paul Thistle ’10 has been busy since graduation would be an understatement. Not only has he worked abroad (twice!), he continues to race competitively and even won the prestigious Run for the Diamonds, hosted in Berwick, Pa., in November 2013. Katie Meier, director of athletics communications, recently talked with Thistle about his whirlwind life after graduation.

KM: You graduated in May 2010 and almost immediately spent a year abroad. Talk about where you went, why and what you did.
PT: I spent the summer after graduation as a teaching assistant for The American School in England (TASIS), a boarding school. The job was in my field of study and allowed me to grow and see so many new things. I was able to benefit both professionally and personally through this experience.

The following year my wife, Caitlin Newman Thistle ’09, and I moved to Tanzania, where we worked as site directors for a Pittsburgh-based non-profit service-learning program called Amizade. We led two semesters and a summer program of university students, teaching international development and reflective courses, and facilitating volunteer work with a local nonprofit for the students. This experience allowed my wife and me to work in our respective fields, education and international development, and grow together in our first year of marriage.

KM: How did your education at Susquehanna inspire and/or prepare you to spend a year in a different country?

PT: The history department professors encouraged me to study abroad, and, ironically, a former history major helped me land the position in England. The Susquehanna history department has a map in their common space on the third floor of Steele Hall. It had little thumbtacks identifying where former students were around the world. This inspired me to travel and expand my horizons beyond the scope of Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania.

KM: What did you gain personally from your time as a student-athlete at SU? What life lessons has athletics taught you?
PT: Time management, discipline and confidence are the three main things I gained as a student-athlete at SU. Learning how to utilize my time to its fullest and putting myself in the best positions to be successful at whatever I was doing started with time management. Getting enough sleep, eating properly, studying and exercising could only be accomplished with a well-thought­through schedule. Following the schedule took discipline, and the more disciplined I was the more success I experienced. With an increase in success and a consistent support system, I gained more confidence. With growing confidence, I was willing to try new things and get out of my comfort zone.

KM: Running is unique because you can remain competitive beyond college. What is your training like today?
PT: My training is much more intense than it was in college. Since moving to D.C., I started running with a racing team and training with other post-collegiate athletes. It is challenging with a full-time teaching job. I joke with friends that the only thing I do is sleep, eat, work and run.