Justin Kagotho

Class Year: 

2018
Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

School: 

Alliance High School

Language: 

French

Why Huntsman?

Justin hails from Nairobi, Kenya, though he lived briefly outside the city for a couple of years. Prior to coming to Penn to attend the Huntsman program, Justin hadn’t traveled abroad, but he always had an international outlook. Before high school, Justin studied a bit of French, which helped influence his choice of target language—another factor is his eventual desire to return to Africa and the prevalence of French in West Africa.

During high school, Justin dabbled in Model United Nations, also played rugby, and volunteered as a Sunday school teacher. His interest in volunteer work additionally led him to develop an NGO that empowered children to change their views on education, bringing speakers to schools to explain the value education offered if students don’t drop out.

Justin heard of the Huntsman Program through a current sophomore, Diana Mong’are; a mutual friend introduced them, and after he mentioned he was looking at Wharton due to his interest in business, Diana suggested the program might be a good fit for his desire to round out the business education with an international perspective. Though he was unable to visit before accepting his offer of admission, Justin spoke with many students after being admitted, which conveyed to him, above all, the small community and personalized attention offered by the program. Coupled with obtaining two degrees in four years and the combination of language and culture, Justin describes the program as the “perfect package.”

The Huntsman Experience

Justin’s favorite course thus far is Econ 010 – introductory macroeconomics and microeconomics – due to its practical content. He appreciates that it has furnished him with the “tools to analyze the world.” He is most looking forward to taking Finance 101, as well as French 226—a course on early French history. Outside of the classroom, Justin has continued playing rugby, competing at the club level alongside several of his Huntsman peers. This has also allowed him to travel to seven states in the past two months through competing against other Ivy League universities! Additionally, Justin has continued his involvement with Model United Nations, helping to plan Penn’s high school conference, ILMUNC. Finally, Justin is involved with the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association.

While these organizations have given Justin a sense of community on campus, Justin cites the Huntsman community as the best part of the program. He describes how it “feels like a family from the moment you start your classes” and how instantaneous friendships ease the college transition. Justin also appreciates the willingness of upperclassmen to offer advice, as well as the advising of the program’s executive director, Inge Herman, who he describes as an “amazing person.” The community is what initially drew Justin to the program, and he is happy to say that it has lived up to his expectations.

Future Plans

This summer, Justin is excited to be traveling to Tours to work on his French, after which he hopes to return to Kenya to spend some time at home. Looking forward, Justin is certain that the program’s offerings will set him up for success in whatever he chooses to pursue, as explored in Jon Huntsman Jr.’s impromptu speech and visit to the lounge—specifically, he appreciates that the program is not just about language, but also culture. Justin anticipates working in a variety of countries – beyond Kenya and the US – and finds the cultural knowledge acquired through the program unbeatable, and the fusion of international studies and business “not something any other program gives you.”