After spending the first four years of her life in Sichuan, China, Julia's family moved to Montreal, where she learned her second language, French. In fourth grade, the family moved again to the United States, and Julia picked up English as well. Julia's international upbringing has really shaped the way she thinks, so when she was trying to figure out what to do in life, or at least in college, she wanted to find something that would draw on her background.
Before finding out about the Huntsman Program, Julia's first choice was Harvard, which she had fallen in love with during a campus visit. As she began working on the application, however, she found herself wondering what her major would be, and she could not imagine being just a French major or focusing exclusively on International Relations. So, when she discovered Huntsman on a summer visit to the office, she thought it was "really neat." After investigating the Program a bit more, Julia decided to apply early decision.
Exploring Diverse Interests
Julia came to college with an open mind, thinking that when she found something she liked, she would dive in. So far, her favorite classes have been her language classes, simply because she's found so many great professors in those departments. For example, learning French history with Professor Mélanie Péron has been "mind opening," according to Julia. She says that she enjoys Professor Péron's unique approach to history, which focuses less on politics as on what was going on in the country in each time period. "When we did World War II," explains Julia, "we didn't talk about what happened militarily, but rather what was going on in the government in the free zone, what was going on in arts and culture…"
In Wharton, Julia had been leaning towards a Finance concentration, until the 2008 financial crisis inspired her to consider things she hadn't thought about before. During the summer after her freshman year, she spent the summer in Shanghai at a real estate internship that she found through Wharton China Business Society. She had applied mostly because she wanted to be in Asia for the summer, but found that she really enjoyed the work, which also involved some marketing. During her sophomore summer, Julia plans to return to the same firm, but in their Philadelphia office. This time she'll try out a different line of business, to see what field fits her best.
Beyond the Classroom
Julia says that the best thing about Penn's extracurriculars is that they can lead to outside things. Her involvement with on-campus clubs and activities has introduced her to new people and new opportunities. For example, through her work with the Small Business Development Center, Julia has come across all different kinds of clients and opportunities. An MBA student who also works at the SBDC introduced her to his roommates, who are starting a company this summer. Julia will be joining their team this summer.
Julia is also a member of a sorority, Theta, which she says has helped her develop friendships with girls from all four of Penn's undergraduate schools and from all walks of life. She says sorority life is a terrific social outlet, but not all-consuming. She can always do things with Theta, but never feels like she has to. It's a nice break from her school and work obligations.
During her junior year, Julia will be studying abroad in Lyon, France, and after her semester abroad, she's thinking of looking for an internship with an NGO in Asia. "One thing that being in Huntsman has encouraged me to do," says Julia, "is be on the look-out for unusual opportunities or unusual ways of thinking about the future."