Melissa applied to the Huntsman Program because it encompassed all of her favorite subject areas: "economics, intensive language studies, and international studies. I was confident that I couldn't go wrong with a top-notch undergraduate business foundation at Wharton coupled with an extensive liberal arts education—and I haven't been disappointed." She was certainly attracted by the prospect of getting two degrees in four years, and the study abroad component "appealed greatly to the adventurer and avid traveler that I am."
Melissa likes to maintain balance in her life, and Huntsman afforded her the opportunity to do so in her academic sphere. "The depth and breadth of the program both in Wharton and in the College are impressive, and definitely satisfy my thirst for knowledge in all fields of interest, including French, anthropology, economics, and area studies, to name a few. Whether I decide to pursue consulting, law, or diplomacy, I am certain that the skills I have honed here at Penn and particularly in the Huntsman Program will serve me extremely well.
"Huntsman has taught me how to think differently. It has ingrained in me the value of approaching business problems with a global perspective and using quantitative and qualitative analysis in an integrated fashion to solve them."
The program's balance is also clear in the "flexible, worldly, inquisitive scholars who are geared for success in the globalizing business world," says Melissa. "I personally loved living with the other Huntsman freshmen in Kings Court. The sheer diversity and wealth of experience, language, culture, background, interest, and talent found within the KC3 (and 4) walls was fascinating to me, and always promised a good time and a great conversation at wee hours of the night. "I absolutely loved having neighbors from all corners of the globe—Brazil, South Korea, India, Guam, Ecuador, France, and more. We were exposed to each other's cultures, languages, opinions, and homelands on a very raw and organic level that can only be achieved by living in close proximity. I would definitely not have traded this rich experience for anything."
A Balanced Education
One of Melissa's favorite classes has been Management 100, which all Wharton students take during their first year. As a requirement for MGMT 100, Melissa and her team worked together on a project for the Urban Nutrition Initiative, organizing educational sessions for kids at a West Philadelphia school. The class helped Melissa learn a lot about teamwork, learning to please a client, being flexible and how to bounce back quickly from failure. She says it was also a great way to break the ice and introduce business to freshmen who often don't know much about it when they start.
Melissa took some of her other favorites in various departments throughout the College of Arts & Sciences. For example, she says that her professor for "France and the European Union," was one of the best French teachers she's ever had. The course "put everything in context," according to Melissa, and made use of mixed media, which kept the class entertaining. Another course, "Contesting Neo-Liberalism" in the Political Science department, discussed the motivation behind anti-globalization movements and provided an interesting counterpoint to the perspective offered by some of Melissa's business professors. This interplay between the two sides of the curriculum is precisely what makes the Huntsman education so valuable.
"I am always proud to say I'm a Huntsman student," says Melissa, "simply because I'm proud of what we represent: the pursuit of higher knowledge and understanding of the ever-globalizing business world and the skills necessary to create value and solve problems in it. Huntsman grants equal weight to all facets of the curriculum, the economics, the international studies, and the target language, and of course whatever else you decide to pursue. Huntsman will not only support, but also facilitate your chosen path of study, ensuring that you capitalize on every possible opportunity while at Penn and beyond."
Beyond the Classroom
Melissa's extracurricular activities have been an important part of her time at Penn, "from performing arts, to cultural and leadership involvement, to volunteering at the Children's Hospital. Huntsman students are all so talented and passionate that involvement is inevitable; they can be found in every area of campus life. There is of course a lot of studying to be done, but it has never prevented me from signing up for non-academic endeavors."
Melissa has found her involvement in the performing arts scene to be particularly rewarding. She's a member of an a capella group, Atma, which she describes as "South Asian fusion, R&B and soul mixed with Indian classical music and Bollywood tunes." It's one of the smaller musical groups on campus, so Melissa and the other members take on full responsibility for all aspects of the group: arranging the music, organizing the shows, and performing. Melissa also recently joined the Excelano Project, Penn's award-winning spoken word collective. She says she "feels blessed to celebrate such a personal art form with an inspiring, talented, diverse group of poets."