Kristen Ho, M&T ’19

Burnaby, BC, Canada

Engineering Major:

Wharton Concentration:



Growing up, I knew I wanted to pursue a STEM major. I knew technology drives growth, but to understand and capitalize on that opportunity, I also needed a business education. Although I was fascinated with business and commerce, I did not have the opportunity to take any business or economic classes in high school. I wanted to change that when I went to college. I found myself struggling between deciding to apply to the School of Engineering or to Wharton. It wasn’t until I discovered the M&T program that I knew Penn was the perfect fit for me. I had found a coordinated dual degree program that allowed me to explore both my interests. And it was at the college I dreamed of attending since I was a little girl. A few more years down the road, thanks to M&T, I will have the analytical and problem-solving skills and business acumen to pursue my career. Applying early decision to the M&T program was one of the easiest and best decisions I made.


Since I was in the first grade, I spent 20-25 hours a week outside of school doing gymnastics. With the time I had left, I was a peer tutor during lunch times. Occasionally, I would also find the time to lead workshops with Lululemon’s Ivivva Dreams and Goals Program for active girls. I also volunteered my time with Tapestry Foundation visiting senior homes and raising money for healthcare equipment for local hospitals.


Penn’s resources offer so many opportunities to engage in and beyond the classrooms. My professors and peers are incredibly accomplished and driven. Arriving on campus, I soon realized I needed to balance work, play and sleep to experience all the intensities of Penn. Whether it’s studying in my favorite place at Education Commons, my job at the Cardiovascular Lab and 3D Printing Lab, 6 am team conditioning, or simply making lifelong friends, there is always something to keep me busy and smiling.


Management 101 with Professor Carton was one of my favorite classes so far. His lectures were always interesting as he found engaging ways to integrate hands-on activities and demonstrations. They often involved a lot of laughter and sometimes even prize money! Many times, Professor Carton used videos to capture our attention at the beginning of a lecture. He then used the rest of the time to illustrate how the concept explained in the video tied in with management principles. One time, I remember walking out so fascinated by understanding how the trash chutes at Disney tied in with management concepts.


Some say being an athlete in college is its own degree: it takes a lot of energy and passion for your sport, but it’s worth all the sweat, sacrifice, and sometimes even tears when your hard work pays off and you win as a team. I am a Varsity-gymnast at Penn, and I spend about 18-20 hours a week in the gym conditioning and flipping. People ask me how I find the time to study in the rigorous M&T program and do gymnastics all at once. It all comes down to time management and staying focused.

Having a busy schedule keeps me on track. I know I can’t afford to stay up late finishing problem sets or studying as it increases my chances of getting injured. While you may find me running to and from practice between lectures with ice saran-wrapped on my body, for the most part, gymnastics gives structure to my day. Gymnastics also gives me a mental break to just forget about school and enjoy what I love to do with my teammates. An additional benefit to being part of a sports team is it’s another tight-knit community, just like with M&T.  Even before you start your first semester of college, you already have friends reaching out to make your transition to college as smooth as possible.


While Penn feels like its own bustling city, my favorite thing about being at Penn is that a major city is just a few blocks down across the Schuylkill River. If I ever find myself in need of a change of scenery, a short walk or ride to Center City with my friends takes us to trendy stores, tasty restaurants, and some beautiful urban parks. Taking a few hours to walk around Philadelphia or brunch at Green Eggs Cafe never fails as a well-deserved study break that gets me re-energized.