David Hays

Class Year: 

2015
Hometown: New Providence, New Jersey, USA

School: 

New Providence High School

Language: 

Japanese
Because the Program is composed of such a diverse student body it’s given me a greater global perspective, just through the simple day to day interactions with my classmates, such as grabbing lunch with a friend.

Student Background

David’s grandparents were missionaries who had moved to Japan when David’s father was just three years old. His father eventually returned to the States to start a family of his own, but brought back a bit of Japanese culture with him. As a result, David grew up surrounded by all things Japanese and developed an interest in studying the language and the region.

The summer after his junior year at New Providence High School, David spent three weeks farming in rural Japan through a WWOOF program. It was the first time he had ever been to the country and David says the experience “is what really made me fall in love with Japan. The Japanese countryside is such a natural, beautiful setting to practice your language skills.” He spent his time weeding rice fields, milking cows and planting asparagus, and was able to travel to various cities around the country, including his dad’s hometown of Yugawara. 

Apart from Japanese, David was also Secretary General of his regional Model UN where he developed hands on leadership training. David led a group of officers to help coordinate the coming year’s conference. They managed to increase attendance from 1,150 to 1,350 high school students and raise over $10,000 worth of books to donate to charity!

David first learned about the Huntsman Program from two of his regional Model UN peers that were already enrolled in the Huntsman Program. To David, the Huntsman Program seemed like a unique opportunity to fuel his passion for Japanese culture in a practical business setting, while also having multiple study abroad opportunities.

The Huntsman Program

Now at Huntsman David feels like he definitely made the right decision. “Because the Program is composed of such a diverse student body it’s given me a greater global perspective, just through the simple day to day interactions with my classmates, such as grabbing lunch with a friend.” The Huntsman community has been really welcoming and made David’s transition into college life so much easier.

Being able to interact with peers of all years in the Program has also helped David’s professional growth. “The skills I’ve gained from the environment here have been incredible. As a Wharton student, my ability to think critically and professionally interact with people has increased dramatically.”

In terms of language, David is amazed at how far his Japanese has come in just a short amount of time. A professor showed his class various levels of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, a global standard for Japanese language ability.  When he began taking the course, David could pass Level 5, the "Survival" level.  After just a few months of study, the professor explained that he should be able to pass Level 3, the "Advanced-Intermediate" level. Impressed with the rapid progression of his language ability, David comments, "given the extreme difficulty of the Japanese language, it is fascinating and exciting to be achieving a proficiency level that allows me to converse freely and begin to read authentic newspaper text." 

On campus David is part of the Japan Student Association, a group that promotes Japanese culture and language around Penn. Events usually involve food, like mochi nights and an iron chef competition, and many other Asian groups will come out for a cultural exchange. This past fall David was also elected to the Huntsman Student Advisory Board and works with members from all four classes to make Huntsman a tighter knit community as well as improve the overall academic experience.