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Amina Penn Makes Her Mark at DU, Sets Sights on the World

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Connor Mokrzycki


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Amina Penn

From leading student organizations and interning in Japan to competing successfully in numerous case competitions, Amina Penn has kept herself busy during her undergraduate years. And when she graduates in June, the senior will have earned concurrent bachelor’s degrees in international studies from the Korbel School of International Studies and management from the Daniels College of Business—with plans to complete a master’s in global economic affairs by next summer.

When she arrived on campus in 2019, the Colorado native was planning to major in international business, but she soon saw concurrent degrees as an opportunity to dive deeper into two of her passions: Business and international studies.

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Penn says, she was interested in the business world from a young age. But it wasn’t just business. Her parents, she says, also love to travel and explore new spaces and cultures and brought Penn and her sister along on their journeys.

“They knew when they had children that they wanted ‘women of the world.’ Growing up, I traveled pretty frequently. I had been to over 30 countries before coming to DU. That was a strong value of theirs, and that’s been passed down to me, as well as being able to integrate myself into different cultures, different foods, arts and everything else—to get to really know the world,” Penn says. “And coming from a business background, I wanted to merge those two things together.”

After her freshman year, Penn landed an international business development internship with Westminster, Colorado-based Maxar Technologies, where she spent the summer building relationships with governments and organizations on the other side of the planet. “That kind of solidified that this is a track I wanted to go on. I want to work for a company that has locations across the globe and speak to and do business with people from everywhere around the world.”

While working towards two degrees, Penn has also minored in entrepreneurship and Japanese, which she put to use during a junior year study abroad program in Tokyo. While weighing her options for international business programs, Penn realized she wanted to hone her language skills. “Especially during COVID, it was really hard to grow. It was hard to do that virtually.” So, she jumped in headfirst, taking only Japanese language courses, ranging in topic from Japanese business to fairy tales, in order to improve her fluency. During her time in Tokyo, Penn interned with Hitachi, which gave her countless opportunities to put her language skills to use.

And back on the DU campus, Penn has continuously put her business skillset to use, including as a member of three first-place teams across several case competitions, the founder of the Do U Entrepreneurship Club and a member of the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity. Penn also served as a peer-to-peer mentor and president of the Daniels Management Club, where she took on a role supporting her peers and assisting them in getting the most out of their time at DU. “We try to create more involvement opportunities for students,” she says. “Management can be a broad major, so the aim is to help students find their passions within the major, especially as a freshman, if they’re struggling to make connections on campus. Especially post-COVID, we want to make sure they have those people there for them to answer their needs—whether that’s personal, about classes or career development.”

Finding and taking advantage of opportunities to get involved, Penn says, has been a crucial component of her time at the University. As her undergraduate studies come to an end, Penn’s advice to current and future students is simple: “Being involved and being willing to put yourself out there really allows you to grow as a person, in confidence and in relationships.” She adds, “There are always people out there looking for those relationships—to hire you or to help you when you need it.”