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FEATURED ALUM Global Initiative, a project of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, has now partnered with the Hult Prize. President Clinton is actively involved in the Hult Prize, personally selecting the challenge that is pushed out to tens of thousands of business students around the world. President Clinton also awards the Hult Prize to the winning start-up each year at the grand finals of the annual competition, which is hosted by Clinton himself on the opening night of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York. Today, the Hult Prize is in its fifth year and has 23 full-time employees and about 500 volunteers operating across six major international cities including Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recently TIME Magazine named it as one of the top five ideas changing the world.


s a first-generation American, the only football Ashkar grew up loving involved kicking a round ball into a netted goal. That is, until he reached eighth grade and fully discovered the U.S. version of football. “I didn’t have much choice really,” he said. “I wanted to do the cool thing.” What was surprising was how quickly young Ahmad took to the game. He was deceptively fast – clocking 4.39 seconds for the 40-yard dash. He started as a freshman on Immaculata High School’s scout team, but in an early scrimmage, returned three kickoffs for touchdowns against varsity players. He started from then on and by his senior year was named the Kansas Class 3A state player of the year. His high school exploits received attention from some of the top collegiate programs in the country, and he eventually signed with the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. But, after a season, he found playing opportunities scarce and transferred to East Tennessee State. After a season there, his mother became ill, and Ashkar decided to find a place where he could play football and go to school closer to home. The coach who recruited him the hardest when he was running over high school competition at Immaculata was a man named Craig Schuler, who then was on the coaching staff at Benedictine College in nearby Atchison, Kan. Schuler had moved to become offensive coordinator at Avila, which had just started a varsity football program.

“Throughout my life story, I’ve always been attracted to start-ups.”

Recalling their Eagles glory days

Ashkar and former Eagles football teammate Kevin Furderer ’05 tour the many updates to Avila’s campus, including the renovated Thomas R. Zarda Family Athletic Complex.

Ashkar quickly established himself as a star running back at Avila, part of a backfield – along with teammate Kevin Furderer ’05 - nicknamed “Thunder and Lightning.” Ashkar was Thunder, and in his second season, 2002, the Eagles finished an all-time best 5-5, and he was named first-team all-conference and NAIA All-American. “Our opening game, we beat William Jewell for the first time, which was especially sweet because our (head) coach, Tim Johnson, played there,” Ashkar said. “We also beat MidAmerica Nazarene, which was one of the top-ranked teams in the nation at the time. And, we played in the Wheat Bowl to start that next year.” Ashkar also became very involved off the field at Avila. While he officially lived at home in Leavenworth, he often bunked for a night or two during the week in Furderer’s dorm room or the room of another teammate. He also dove into his studies as a finance and business administration major. He said Avila was very similar to Immaculata in that there seemed to be a community of support for all endeavors.

Avila University Accent Magazine - Spring 2014  

Accent is published twice yearly by the Office of Marketing & Communication. Opinions expressed in Accent are those of individual authors an...

Avila University Accent Magazine - Spring 2014  

Accent is published twice yearly by the Office of Marketing & Communication. Opinions expressed in Accent are those of individual authors an...