Cristian Lacayo

Class Year: 

Hometown: Managua, Nicaragua


Lincoln International Academy


Chinese (Mandarin)
The main reason why I chose the Huntsman Program was the liberty it provided me with to alternate between pure business and pure liberal arts courses. The Program gave me the opportunity to explore my interests in the field of business without sacrificing other equally fascinating fields in the liberal arts.

Student Background

Cristian was born in Costa Rica, but moved to Nicaragua at age two and has lived there ever since. An interest in international studies was only natural for Cristian, who comes from an incredibly diverse background. His maternal grandfather is originally from Palestine and his grandmother from El Salvador. Cristian’s mother was born and raised in Honduras. On the other side of his family, his grandparents come from Spain and Nicaragua, where Cristian’s father grew up.

In reality, it was not until late into his junior year of high school that Cristian finally set his mind on business as his career path. He says that it was not an arbitrary decision, but rather the culmination of thoughts he’d been developing for a long time. After interning in a bank and several other companies specializing in commodity training, Cristian realized that business was not a limiting pathway but was instead a career that could be defined distinctly by each individual according to his or her interests. “In my own case,” says Cristian, “I saw in business the opportunity to combine my interest in mathematics, international culture and civilizations, history, and politics.”

A World of Opportunities

Cristian took full advantage of the program’s interdisciplinary curriculum, pursuing Real Estate and Finance concentrations in Wharton, as well as Math and Chinese minors in The College. In his Real Estate coursework he focused on international real estate, Asset-backed Securities, and Primary and Secondary Mortgages. His Finance coursework focused on Leveraged Buyouts, Venture Capital, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Buyout Funds. He took the skills he learned in the classroom and applied them outside the classroom as well. During his freshman year, Cristian performed research on the impact of foreign banana companies on the development of the Honduran government and society in general. As a sophomore, he interned at Merrill Lynch in private wealth management and at Nova Capital Partners, helping clients in emerging markets, specifically in China and Africa. And during his junior year, he worked at UBS in Chemicals Investment Banking where he worked on Mergers and Acquisitions, Equity and Debt Offerings, and Leverage finance projects.

The Huntsman Program also provided Cristian with the opportunity to explore a culture which had captured his attention for a long time: China. In Nicaragua, Cristian hadn’t found any complete courses of Chinese language study, let alone classes on Chinese culture and civilization. As a Huntsman student, Cristian has been able to engage in the study of Mandarin through a renowned university language department. As a freshman, Cristian spent part of his summer interning at Nicaragua’s Central Bank before traveling to Beijing to attend the Columbia in Beijing Summer Language Program. He studied abroad at Tsinghua, taking courses in International Business and International Studies. He found his time at Tsinghua furthered his interest in China as a likely market for his professional future. His time in Beijing allowed him to pursue an internship later that year at UBS where he worked with Chinese clients. While abroad, Cristian traveled to Vietnam, Hong Kong, and attended the World Expo in Shanghai. 

Beyond the Classroom

Cristian served as the International Outreach Coordinator on the board of Wharton Ambassadors.  The position was founded in his first year and consists of reaching out to the international community to spread the word about the countless opportunities offered at Wharton and Penn in general. Cristian also served as debate moderator for the International Affairs Association, as a tour guide for the Kite and Key Society, and he was a member of the Huntsman Student Investment Fund. He served on the Social Planning Committee of Wharton Latino, on the Internship Committee of Wharton Asia Exchange and as a mentor for incoming international Wharton students. As a delegate for the Multicultural Leadership Program, Cristian recently received a “Multicultural Leader Award.” He participated in Penn International Business Volunteers, on the Project Scoping Committee, contacting NGOs in developing countries to offer Penn student involvement, including internships.

Cristian had always envisioned he would pursue higher levels of education. First of all, he’d like to further his business studies through an MBA. He also intends to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in financial economics. This summer he will be interning at Barclays Capital Investment, part of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, where he will work closely with NGOs in Latin America. And in January he will study at PUC in Rio de Janeiro, where he will continue to build his Portuguese language skills in order to increase his ties to the South American continent. Cristian’s final plans are to return to Nicaragua and become involved in national politics. “By doing this,” Cristian says, “I desire to influence national social policy and assist the country in its struggle to eradicate poverty within the nation.” Someday, he says, he might also consider becoming a university professor.