Graduation year: 2021
High school: Limestone High School
Hometown: Mapleton, Ill.
Major: Business administration (management)
Minor: Communication studies
Activities: Varsity track & field (All-American, team captain), Young Life
Internships: Pekin Insurance, divvyDOSE Pharmacy
Post-grad plans: Go into medical device sales and coach track & field athletes
I wanted to find a school that had an excellent academic history and equally impressive athletic department. I had heard about Augustana because it wasn't too far away from my hometown, and it easily checked those boxes. I knew I could leave with an education that would stand out on a job application, and an athletic career where I knew I would be competing with the best competition in DIII.
Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?
Not necessarily. I tried to come into my college career with an open mind and see where that would take me. Over my four years, I found a passion competing in multiple events in track & field. I also received a great opportunity with an internship my second semester of my senior year that is developing professional skills I plan on using in the near future.
Who helped you get to where you are now?
There's no one I could thank more than my parents, Pat and Jill Thornton. They have always pushed me to succeed in whatever venture I chose to go into, both athletically and academically. They also played a major role in my decision to choose Augustana, and I couldn't thank them enough for that.
I also want to thank my coaches who have helped me grow as an athlete and competitor, but more importantly as a person. To name a few, Coach Jake Shaver, Coach Shawn Williams and Coach Paul Olsen. They played a pivotal role in my four years at Augie, and I'm incredibly grateful that they were all a part of my experience.
In the classroom, Bryce Palar and Angela Boelens had a great impact on my academic experience. They made sure to keep students engaged and discussed real business experience, which I will use in my future career.
Dave Goy has been a great mentor for me in Young Life; he has had a strong impact on my religious experience while I've been at Augie.
My peak experience at Augustana so far was qualifying for nationals in high jump and getting to travel to Boston to compete. I jumped a personal record at that meet and got fourth place, which gave me All-American honors. Getting to experience that trip with my family and coaches was incredible, and the memories that were made there will last a lifetime.
What surprised you?
How quickly you learn about time management. Augustana makes sure that all first-year students take a class that focuses on planning out your days and staying on top of classwork and extracurriculars. Once I figured out time management, my stress levels went down, and I could easily get into a daily rhythm.
How did you use your Augie Choice?
I used my Augie Choice to travel with the football team to Ireland in the summer of 2019. I unfortunately was not able to play in the football game because of an injury, but it was a great opportunity to visit a different country with some of my best friends.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the people I've met the most. Some of the tightest bonds I've ever created were at Augie with teammates and classmates. I've made some great memories with them that will last a lifetime.
Advice for the Class of 2025?
Get involved in things that interest you. Your college experience is what you make of it. If you aren't involved, you're going to miss out on great opportunities to grow as a student and as a person.
"Ryan stands out on and off the track for his leadership, dedication and deep commitment to his goals and those of the people around him. An outstanding student, All-American athlete, team captain and natural leader, Ryan lives the values we teach in our track & field program and is a fantastic example of what is possible for an Augustana student-athlete."