BS/MS mechanical engineering ’14
Lead Material Program Manager, Raytheon Missiles and Defense
Graham Donaldson pedaled more than 2,100 miles across the Pyrenees and Alps to raise funds to fight leukemia (and found love at the finish line!).
After finishing the world’s most famous bike route — immortalized each year in the Tour de France — some might grab a nap or a bottle of water and a meal. Graham Donaldson decided instead to shake things up a bit and get engaged. At the finish line.
It was a culmination of what Donaldson calls “the craziest eight months” of his life. The engagement was hardly the only thing going on, or the only thing accomplished.
Donaldson had just completed The Tour 21, a charity ride held one week before the professionals take to the course for the three-week competition held each summer.
He had seen a documentary about the first ride the previous year. As a seasoned rider, he was intrigued by the opportunity to perform an activity he loved for the greater good. His fiancée-to-be had lost her mother to melanoma years prior: more motivation.
“My fundraising for Cure Leukemia allowed me to see Europe from two wheels, become friends with my teammates and gain an appreciation for countries and cultures other than my own.”
“It was an amazing opportunity,” Donaldson says. “I had to apply.” And though he thought “there’s no way I get picked,” he was picked, and ended up being the only American on the team in 2022.
Donaldson raised $52,000 as part of a team that raised 950,000 pounds to support a network of clinical trial centers for the UK charity Cure Leukemia. In all, he took off six weeks from his job for the three and a half weeks of riding that covered 2,100 miles. He trained for eight months, though one could say his training started during the recent decade when he started riding, first on the Valley Forge trail while in Philadelphia and then in Tucson, his current home.
For seven years, Donaldson has been in Arizona, brought by his job with Raytheon Missiles and Defense, where he is the Lead Material Program Manager for the StormBreaker program. He leads the MPM production and sustainment team. Since arriving in Arizona, he has added a Master of Business in Administration from Arizona State University.
His time at Drexel was of course integral. He eschewed many things — from elective courses to fulfilling his dream of studying abroad — to do the accelerated BS/MS program which he “couldn’t do anywhere else. It was a whirlwind, but a good one and a lot of hard work.” The co-ops he was part of “challenged me in a different way than coursework. They also really set me up for my career post-graduation.”
Next? Donaldson’s not sure. He sees himself and Katelyn marrying in 2024, but after the punishing 2,100-mile journey Donaldson completed, he’s not ready to make other weighty, long-term decisions.
“We’re looking to get married and enjoy that for some time,” he says. “That’ll be plenty of excitement for the next few years.”
The change I’d like to see most in the world…
For more people to get out and see more of the world. My fundraising for Cure Leukemia allowed me to see Europe from two wheels, become friends with my teammates and gain an appreciation for countries and cultures other than my own. We would all benefit, as individuals and as a society, if more people could have ‘fish out of water’ experiences like this and see more of the beauty of the world.