2019 Best & Brightest: Carolina Zuluaga, Wharton School

Carolina Zuluaga       

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

“Carolina, at her best, is laughing at the top of her lungs with friends around trying new food and watching a feel good movie.”

Fun fact about yourself: The first time it snows during the winter season, it is a tradition that I will always eat some ice cream because it was something my dad and I always did together.

Hometown: Englewood NJ

High School: Academy of the Holy Angels, Demarest NJ

Major: Economics with concentrations in Management with a focus on Organizational Behavior and Global Strategy

Minor: International Relations

Favorite Business Course: Organizational Behavior with Adam Grant

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Wharton Council: Member, Traditions Chair & Co-Chair

  • Foster a more complete co-curricular experience through funding for clubs, recognizing achievement, and planning activities for Wharton student body consisting of over 2,000 students

Wharton Wellness: Member

  • Create more opportunities for Wharton students at all levels to reflect and engage on issues of wellness, stress, mental health, resilience, happiness, personal and academic goals, and the meaning of success.

Social Impact Advisory Board: Member & Co-Chair

  • Advocates for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and social impact at the undergrad level and connects across other clubs
  • Civic Scholar (15 students selected among student body consisting of 2,500 students, focuses on social justice awareness and practice)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Summer intern at the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia

Summer Analyst at BlackRock in New York City

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided

What company do you admire most? BlackRock because the incredible work it does on the Global Philanthropy team was all borne out of a team of executives who understand the power and incredible opportunity that lies in sharing knowledge and investing in incredible nonprofits effectively. Based on the nonprofit RobinHood, the philanthropy team works to really think through effective and impactful giving to make a difference in the world so everyone can achieve financial security. Beyond their great work, they have built an incredible team of smart, engaging and dynamic members who are there to make a positive impact using their business acumen to build sustainable change.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I have loved the way it has taught me so much outside of the classroom. Through extracurriculars, events and overall day-to-day, Wharton has taught me so many skills but also a great deal about myself. Through a multitude of opportunities, I learned about managing teams, interpersonal skills, time management but also about the importance of relationships and genuine connections. Coming to Huntsman Hall every day presented new opportunities for growth and learning.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Do not get pigeon-holed down a particular path because everyone else may be doing it. The term “business” is incredibly vague and encompasses so much more than the conventional paths that frequently come to mine. In fact, that is what makes it so exciting. There is a multitude of options and interdisciplinary opportunities so take advantage of all of the opportunities offered in college to explore your interests.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Most people have decided that making a positive impact in the world is mutually exclusive from doing well in business but that is not the case. If the right people are in charge, they can use their businesses to drive positive scalable change in the world, and that’s exciting! There is a world of possibilities for us as business students to use what we know to be a positive force no matter the industry.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Psychology. I have always been fascinated with it and frequently find myself spending my free time exploring topics like positive psychology, developmental psychology and body language. No matter the industry or job, psychology can be an incredible asset to improve your experience by allowing you to gain insight on interpersonal skills, understanding yourself as a leader and how to be a better team player.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents. Both are immigrants and did not get the chance to attend college gaining success through their small businesses. Growing up, I was always surrounded by “basic” business skills and good intuition which meant constant conversations about invoicing or employee management around the dinner table. Every time we walked into a new restaurant, my parents would ask me about pricing, upfront costs and estimates of the initial investment. For me, going into business was to expand on what I had already heard from my parents and to build my own business acumen for whatever I pursue in the future.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of the literacy initiative I began in high school, which has donated over 10,000 books to various nonprofits across the United States and Guatemala and translated documents to increase outreach for various nonprofits. This initiative was born out of my desire to help my grandma, an immigrant from Guatemala, who never learned English. She was receiving a lot of pamphlets and literature in English when undergoing surgery but understood none of it so I began translating it and sharing it with the hospital. As time went on, I realized her situation is a common one and I knew that I could do something about it. At this time, I was able to marry my initiative of translation and reading into one for all Latin Americans. Through Comprendemos, there is a greater sense of connection and inclusion for the Hispanic community, whether it is for a young child from another country or an elderly woman like my abuelita.

Which classmate do you most admire? Although he is no longer a peer having graduated a year ago, the classmate I admire most is Kayvon Asemani. His background and story is so inspiring seeing all that he has accomplished despite his challenges growing up but it is most impressive to see his dedication to bring people up with him through his success. He is always thinking of others first radiating joy and kindness wherever he may be. He was also my first friend here at Penn and someone who helped me a great deal my freshmen year. As a fellow civic scholar, he gave me a great deal of advice and was the reason why I applied to Wharton Council. He was always willing to sit down with me when I had a question or answer the many questions, I would send his way.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?

My mom for always encouraging me and reminding me of the strong women who came before me helping me to reach this point.

My mentor at Wharton, Lee Kramer, for supporting me throughout my four years to try new ideas, help me through my leadership roles and be a wonderful support system.

My dad for always reminding me of the big picture. No matter the issue, my dad always knew how to not make it feel so large or overwhelming but instead always reminding me the “sun will come up the next day”.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Perform with Coldplay
  2. Go skydiving

What are your hobbies? Taking care of my 5-month-old puppy (this is more of an incredible job than hobby), organizing meals with friends, watching foreign films & listening to podcasts.

What made Carolina such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Carolina is a remarkable student leader. It has been amazing to watch her growth and development as a leader here. She has truly made a lasting impact on the Wharton undergraduate community through her involvement with the Wharton Council and Wharton Wellness through both programs and initiatives that have brought about a positive change to the student body. Carolina is well-respected among her peers, staff, and faculty.”

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