Current Students

Shaktivail Arunachalam

Hometown: Kansas City, KS
Class Year:
Target Language: French
Study Abroad: TBD
Minor: French
Wharton Concentration: Statistics and Finance

Why did you choose the Huntsman Program?

In high school, I was an avid speech and debate competitor, and through the countless hours I spent researching for policy debate and international extemporaneous speech, I developed a passion for international affairs. I was also lucky enough to have a high school French teacher who made me motivated and excited to learn about culture and language, and through my time in French class as well as my personal experience speaking in Tamil at home, I realized that I wanted to continue exploring culture in college. Paired with my interest in culture, I was also excited by business and economics. I founded my high school’s first Investment Club, organizing stock pitch and stock simulation competitions. Reading about economic and business trends while researching stock investments became a serious interest of mine during my junior year, and from then, I knew that I wanted to study business in college. At a personal level, I chose Huntsman for its inseparable community. I knew that being in a tight-knit community while also being part of a well-resourced research university like Penn would be an inimitable experience.

What has been your favorite thing about the Program? What aspects of the Program have been most useful to you?

A few of my favorite things about the program are the freshman living community, the Huntsman lounge, and the individualized attention. First, being able to live with the rest of the Huntsman class on the third floor of Kings Court is an incredible experience. It makes the first few months of college so much easier and more enjoyable; while many students are worried about making and finding friends, Huntsman students walk into a floor that’s comprised of folks that already feel like family. You’ll never feel alone or isolated when you live with the Huntsman class on KC3. Second, having the resources of the Huntsman lounge, smack in the middle of campus, is an irreplaceable luxury. Whether it be accessing a computer lab, consulting an upperclassman about classes, or just grabbing a snack and relaxing in the living space, the lounge is there to serve any and all of your needs. Finally, having individualized attention from Marco and Kelly, two incredibly friendly and approachable advisors who genuinely care about our well-being, both academic and personal, is something that I will forever appreciate. They are always there to assist us with anything, from classes to internship advice to personal help.

Which courses have you enjoyed the most? Why?

The two courses I have enjoyed the most are History 107, the History of Global Capitalist Systems, and French 232, French Literature: The Individual and Society. History 107 is a class that further stimulated my interests in business, economics, and history. It is taught by an incredible professor, but most importantly, the class is taken with your Huntsman classmates. Having the opportunity to learn and grow with your Huntsman class is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience. Second, French Literature is also a class that I thoroughly enjoyed. Being able to read and discuss literature, history, and philosophy is already a highly rewarding experience, as the topics force you to think about the larger questions in life, like morals, values, and human faults. But being able to discuss these deeper topics in a foreign language makes the experience that much more novel. You leave every discussion feeling excited, not only about the contents of the discussion, but also about the language skills you’ve developed.

How do you feel Huntsman has prepared/will prepare you to reach your career and personal goals?

The Huntsman education has prepared us for careers in a many important ways. First, in a world that is highly globalized, most relevant career paths demand a worldly and cosmopolitan vision. One mustn’t think in a small-minded and limited frame, but rather needs to view every task or goal within and globalized frame-of-thought. But this world-view isn’t developed in the blink of an eye. The Huntsman curriculum, balanced over the span of four years and paired with focused language training and global immersion, gives us the tools to develop this international frame of thought. Finally, the Huntsman curriculum encourages multilingualism, empowering us to connect, understand, and empathize with individuals and cultures at a deeper level. While this makes us better prepared for careers that inevitably require collaboration and teamwork, it also prepares us to be better people and better citizens of the world.

Are you involved in any co-curricular activities at Penn? What is your role?

Penn Microfinanc – Team Leader of Project India, consulting with Pratham (a charitable trust and one of the largest NGOs in India)

Wharton Investment and Trading Group – Real Estate Investment Team

Penn Model UN – Assistant Secretary General and Competitor