Danielle Fiorino

Class Year: 

2012
Hometown: Holmdel, New Jersey, USA

School: 

Holmdel High School

Language: 

Arabic

Student Background

Born and raised in NJ with a love of languages, Danielle spent her summers in high school attending various intensive immersion programs. She studied at a French language camp in Minnesota twice, and took her first Arabic course at the University of Chicago during the summer of her sophomore year. The course made a lasting impression on Danielle and she decided to target Arabic in college. “If we are going to have any type of peace or understanding with the Middle East, we need more Americans who can speak and understand the culture.”

Danielle also wanted to study something other than government and felt that business would be a good way to connect on an international level. She narrowed her college search down to those with an international focus, specifically looking for schools that had a good Arabic program. When she was introduced to the Huntsman Program through a classmate she thought it sounded perfect, and was thrilled to be the first person from her high school to be accepted into the Program.

After graduating from Holmdel High School, Danielle attended an Arabic summer immersion program at Middlebury College in Vermont to sharpen her language skills and prepare for the road ahead. Languages were only one part of Danielle’s diverse interests that would lead her abroad. She also studies embroidery and spent three summers pursuing a certificate in embroidery from the Royal School of Needlework in London. “Embroidery is really relaxing once you get into the rhythm.”

The Huntsman Experience

While Danielle has found the Huntsman Program challenging at times, overall she has really enjoyed her time here. “Our advisor really looks after us, and the network of people that we have here has definitely made the whole experience worthwhile. The network spans so far around the world that if you want any advice on any field or country, there is always someone tied to that region that can help you.”

Danielle is a huge foodie so it’s no surprise that one of her favorite classes has been a course on food in the Islamic Middle East. Students learned about the history of cooking in the Middle East and read old recipe books from the early Islamic period. Each week their professor brought in different foods and gave out Middle Eastern restaurant “assignments” around Philadelphia. “It was a really delicious way to study Islamic culture!”

In Wharton Danielle has focused on marketing and says that “so far the classes have been great.” For her Consumer Behavior class, she worked on a real-life simulation project strategizing how to pitch and brand the Microsoft Windows Phone more effectively. “The class was great because it was like working for a real company with real deliverables.” In addition to her two Huntsman degrees, Danielle has declared minors in both French studies and in Modern Middle Eastern studies.

During the summer before her junior year, Danielle interned in India to help launch the non-profit arm of Milagrow, a for-profit company focused on business and knowledge solutions. Before going, she was connected with a Huntsman alumnus who was familiar with the region. While there she also met another Huntsman alumnus who happened to be working in the same town in India. “That was a real Huntsman moment!”

At Penn Danielle is actively involved in Wharton MENA (Middle East and North Africa), a club that connects Penn students with business opportunities in the Middle East. They planned a joint conference with the graduate version of the club.  Danielle is also a member of the Penn Latin and Ballroom Dance team, where she competes with other dance teams in the region.

Study abroad experience

After her freshman year, Danielle received a summer language grant through the Huntsman Program to study abroad in Jordan for the Qasid program. The program was slightly different than others she had done because of the religious undertones.

“It was an institution for foreigners learning Arabic, many of whom had come for religious reasons, so classes took a more classical approach and were geared toward studying the Quran and other religious texts. There was even a women’s lounge for covered women to relax and uncover.”

That program left Danielle with a good sense of the country and well-prepared to spend her junior fall semester in Amman. Her host family, two elderly Palestinian sisters, was an invaluable part of her study abroad experience. “The sisters didn’t speak any English, so I was really able to improve my dialect just by speaking with them, their friends and their extended family.” In addition to her studies, she also traveled to Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank.