Fernando grew up in the Bronx, but spent many summers in the Dominican Republic, where his parents originally hail from. He thus had an interest in international affairs and learning about different cultures from the onset. In fact, this is reflected in Fernando’s extracurricular activities during high school. He co-founded a Latin dance club, and also led charity efforts to support orphanages in the Dominican Republic. Fernando was additionally an avid athlete, competing in both track and football.
During high school, Fernando took advantage of opportunities to travel; he went to the Vatican with his high school singing group, Collegium, and the trip also included a visit to a small Italian town where they took language courses and performed—with posters around the town announcing their arrival, they were local celebrities of sorts! However, in terms of languages, Fernando had studied Spanish in high school to improve his ability to write in Spanish, but wanted to learn a new language in college. With the guidance of the program’s executive director, Inge Herman, he decided on Portuguese due to his interest in Latin America and the opportunity presented via study abroad to immerse himself in a country where the language is spoken.
Fernando’s interest in business, stemming from his love of math, led him to apply to Penn due to the prestige of Wharton, but with his interest in language and cultures, he saw that Huntsman would be a good fit. Fernando says that he “knew it was home when he stepped on campus,” and has greatly enjoyed his experience with the program thus far.
The Huntsman Experience
A shared experience among all freshmen at Wharton, Management 100 is a defining part of the first semester. Fernando cites this as his favorite course thus far, due to the ability to work with a client and see the impact of your team’s efforts. Looking forward, he is most excited to take a course in criminal justice given his interest in law, as well as a transnational cinema seminar—with a small class size, he is certain the discussions will be great.
Outside of the classroom, Fernando translated his football experience to the rugby field, competing at the club level with several Huntsman peers. He describes the rugby team as a “second family.” He is also a member of the International Affairs Association, specifically involved with both the special events team and helping to plan Penn’s college Model United Nations Conference, UPMUNC. He’s further considering joining the Dominican students group, as well as Onda Latina—a Latin dance troupe!
However, it is the family that Fernando has found in the Huntsman program that he cites as the defining aspect of his college experience thus far. While the class all became close on Huntsman Day, the bonding has only further increased with the study groups for homework that last until 4 AM, 5 AM Wawa runs, and the constant joking and exchanges that take place in myriad languages on KC3. The community feeling is expanded and further fostered by the group activities planned by the Huntsman Student Advisory Board, HSAB, such as dim sum brunches or movie nights. Additionally, Fernando is grateful for the advice from upperclassmen, who he says are “always willing to talk” to the freshmen.
This summer, Fernando is excited to be participating in a language immersion program to hone his Portuguese skills; hopefully, he will be in Rio along several other Huntsman freshmen! Overall, Fernando explains that the exposure to different fields of study in the classroom and different cultures through study abroad prepare Huntsman students “to go wherever you choose and achieve whatever career you wish to pursue if you work hard and take advantage of all the program has to offer.”