For Nicolas Aguirre, choosing Huntsman was easy: "I definitely wanted to do business because I am passionate about working with people to put ideas into practice, and because by studying at Wharton I can experience at age 19 what MBA students experience at age 29, which gives me a tremendous head start." On top of that, "Penn gave me a generous financial aid package."
Nicolas has lived and traveled around the world since he was a kid. "I speak three languages, love to discover different cultures, and learn from people who are different from me… so the whole idea of a program that combines business and international studies, preparing people for leadership in the era of globalization, was extremely appealing to me." He visited Penn at the end of his junior year, learned about the Huntsman Program, met the Executive Director, "and for some strange reason they took me."
The flexibility of the Huntsman curriculum, he says, "is amazing, and lets you pursue your academic interests, whatever they may be." On top of his business courses, for example, Nicolas studies history, cinema and political science, making him "a better-rounded person."
Nicolas says what he learns the most from are the extraordinary friendships he has made with extraordinary people. "By living, going to class, and sharing with Huntsman students that come from every corner of the world, I have come to appreciate that we do not all think the same way or believe in the same things." This, he believes, "has prepared me to successfully do business anywhere in the world." And, he adds with a smile, "I now have friends all over the world with whom you can stay when I travel." During his sophomore year, for example, Nicolas visited Huntsman students in Italy, Egypt, Russia and Cameroon.
"I am by no means the smartest person in Huntsman," says Nicolas, "but I love that. Yes, at times it can be intimidating to be surrounded by such great people, but when you are the smartest person in the room, it's time to go to another room. The Huntsman environment inspires, challenges, and motivates me."
"Many people are afraid Huntsman will limit them socially, but that will not happen," he says. "I love my Huntsman friends, and having a tight community within the larger Penn community. But I also have many friends outside the program. In fact, I rent a house off-campus with several friends, none of whom are Huntsman students." Nicolas especially likes that "in the Huntsman Program, I have a face and a story everyone knows, I am one in forty-five rather than one in two- thousand.
A World of Opportunities
"From the bottom of my heart, I'm extremely grateful to the Huntsman Program because it has given me more opportunities that I could have ever dreamed of." He has met presidential candidate John McCain, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. He also interviewed former Mexican President Vicente Fox for the paper he wrote on NAFTA for History 107, and was sponsored to spend a summer in Tuscany learning Italian.
Nicolas' grandfather went to boarding school in Philadelphia - "his father had to go into lots of debt to give him that opportunity." In contrast, Nicolas will graduate debt-free because of a second scholarship Huntsman helped him obtain. "More valuable than the money itself, is the mentorship from the donor of my scholarship," a member of Huntsman's External Advisory Board.
His plans for the future? "I love dealing with people and have develop a great interest in multinational management through my research with Lauder Institute Director Mauro Guillen, which is why I would like to work as an international consultant, a career-path that Huntsman is preparing me well for." His long-term aspiration is to return to Latin America: "I have been given many opportunities and therefore have an enormous responsibility to do a lot of good."