Julia Enyart, G18, WG18, joined the Wharton and Lauder programs in May of 2016 as one of the first members of our inaugural Africa program. She shares with us some of her insights and experience in the program thus far, as well as some tips for anyone considering applying to the Lauder program.
What are some key reasons you chose the Lauder joint degree program vs. just Wharton-only?
When it came to graduate school, I really dragged my feet in deciding on the MBA route given that most of my colleagues in international development were considering an MPP. I was keen to find a program that married a rigorous business curriculum with students as serious about international studies and experiences as I was. So many schools boasted about a one-time trip to South Africa, or how 20% of the class was international. Despite the fact that I grew up in the States, I have always immersed myself in new cultures, lived in over 10 developing countries prior to Wharton, and felt a special fulfillment when speaking French. When I stumbled upon Lauder, I knew I didn’t have to compromise. Lauder illustrated an opportunity – unmatched by others – to pursue a world-renowned MBA while infusing my classes, social experiences, and travel with 100% globally-minded people.
What are some highlights of your Lauder experience so far?
For my Lauder Intercultural Venture (LIV) over spring break, I said goodbye to dreams of tropical resorts and instead, invested in a hardcore winter coat to travel to Mongolia. In Mongolia, we rode horses along the steppe, hiked remote mountains, sipped the traditional hot milk in yurts, and grabbed drinks with innovative entrepreneurs in Ulaanbataar. Discovering a remote country alongside my Lauder peers allowed for unique bonding- like sleeping in bunk beds on a train while traveling to a Communist mining town- and reinforced the shared sense of adventure and curiosity that unites all Lauder students. Alternatively, domestic treks have proved equally rewarding: over fall break I traveled to Dallas to stay at a classmate’s family home with a group of 20 Lauder students to explore Texan cowboy culture- a rarity for most of the group. I’ll never forget sitting around the breakfast table feeling at home and like Lauder could really become my family.
As part of the inaugural Africa program, I spent my summer across four countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including a five-week French immersion in Cameroon that offered insight into the challenges and opportunities associated with doing business in the region. Transitioning to Ethiopia, one of the continent’s only uncolonized countries, was wild because their version of nationality and leadership felt so prominently and uniquely defined. Moreover, it was exciting and impressive to witness the young people returning to Addis Ababa, an emerging economic hub. My favorite memory is visiting the childhood home of a South African classmate and seeing the country’s painful history but also inspiring progress through her eyes. Our best adventure was road tripping through Stellenbosch to sample incredible wines from vineyards bordered by beautiful Table Mountain.
The lives of Wharton/Lauder students move at a breathless pace. Around 6:30am, I try to go for a run along the Schuylkill Valley Trail or attend yoga to focus my mind for a productive day ahead. I’ll walk 30 minutes from the Rittenhouse area to campus, often calling my parents or FaceTiming with my sister, before class. Lunch time is a savored break in the day to respond to emails, prep for French class, or catch up over lunch with a friend. The afternoons are a mix of more class- Lauder students take around 6 hours more of class per week than the average Wharton student– or meetings for class projects. As co-President of Wharton Impact Investing Partners, I’m often jetting over to Wharton Social Impact Initiative for a chat with administrative leaders or prepping for our weekly trainings. Cooking dinner is my ideal way to decompress and relax, and there is no shortage of evening activities for Wharton students, whether you’re checking out a Wine Club tasting, cheering your friends on in a hockey match, attending a Storytellers event downtown, or practicing for Wharton Dance Studio.
What advice would you give to someone considering the Lauder program?
Seriously consider your fit with the program: are you compelled by the idea of an international career and surrounding yourself with a mosaic of language and cultures? Can you manage your time masterfully to squeeze in two master’s degrees in two years? If so, then Lauder will be an amazing home for you. Beyond the classes, trips, and prestige, Lauder for me symbolizes community. I feel humbled and grateful to know we’ll grow together in our careers and aspirations, hopefully reuniting on corners far and wide as alumni.