Maria Lucia Aguilar

Class Year: 

2009
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

School: 

Colegio Aleman Alexander von Humboldt A.C.

Language: 

German

Student Background

Maria Lucia (Malu) was born in Peru and lived there until she was twelve years old, when she moved to Mexico. Malu had attended a German international school since kindergarten, and she had spent a year abroad in Austria during high school. So, when she began applying to college, she looked mostly at German universities. 

"But Penn caught my eye," says Malu, "because of this Program." She liked the idea of pursuing a business degree while continuing to focus on German culture and language. Malu was also interested in a broader view of international affairs. "Ever since middle school, I would always read the newspapers and try to figure out what was going on."

The Huntsman Experience

One of the first organizations Malu joined when she arrived to Penn was Wharton Latino. The club has allowed her to meet most of the other Latin American people on campus, and as a graduating senior she is still close friends with many of them. It's an important social network for Malu, but she also is involved in the club's community service activities, including gift drives and fundraisers for scholarships. As a member of Wharton Community Consultants, Malu has taken on consulting projects for small businesses in Philadelphia.

Since junior year, Malu has also been a member of Cipactli, the Latino honor society. It is focused not only on academics, but on community service as well.  "I love it!" says Malu. "I've learnt much about team work and leadership, as well as made lasting friendships on the way."

Malu has also served as a research assistant for an accounting professor. She's always thought of herself as a quantitative person. (She loved math in high school.) So, Finance and Accounting concentrations seemed appropriate, especially given Wharton's top reputation in Finance. In the College, her main interest has been economics, specifically development economics and international monetary economics.

Study Abroad in Germany

Malu spent eight months in Germany during her junior year. First, she was enrolled in German classes for a month at the Goethe Institute. Then she completed a two month internship in the fixed income division at Metzler. She developed tools to help rate public bonds, pull quantitative information from the internet and organize databases. At the end of her internship, Malu's semester at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität finally began in April and ended in August.

College life in Frankfurt operated under a completely different system than what Malu was used to, but she thrived on the challenge. As opposed to the American system, which features a mix of exams, papers and homework assignments, Malu's class grades in Germany were based solely on a single final examination. There was a lot more responsibility placed on students to keep up with the material. At the same time, Malu also felt that she had more freedom to organize her work how she saw fit. This meant that Malu could take time off to travel, as long as she knew she could catch up with her coursework later on. Malu found time to take trips to Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Cologne and Berlin. 

In addition to the different structure of the courses, Malu found that the class material itself was distinct. According to Malu, while the Wharton curriculum is very practical, with a focus on case studies, the German approach was more theoretical - centering around economic theory. The two views complemented each other nicely, and Malu says she learned a lot of new things from her study abroad experience. Malu's classes dealt with topics such as EU monetary policy and trade theory. Her studies in Frankfurt even helped inspire her senior thesis topic: the impact of globalization and overall economy on labor reforms in Germany in 2005.