When Kam Lam was ten years old, she knew she wanted to study medicine. But the ambitious young Lam didn't only want to be a doctor. "I told my family that I wanted to find a cure for AIDS, open clinics abroad to provide health care and education to underserved populations, and train in pediatrics," she remembers.
Today, Lam, a dual-degree student at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences studying Medicine with concentrations in Epidemiology and Global Health, remains committed to these goals. "While I understand now that finding the cure for AIDS may be more difficult than I initially thought, I am still passionate about contributing to the understanding and prevention of the disease," she says.
Over the next three years, Lam will have the opportunity to do just that, thanks to the Lazarus Family Scholarship, a scholarship designed to support future leaders in health care as they pursue extraordinary educational opportunities. Lam will work to identify barriers to adolescent HIV screening in the Emergency Department of Children's National Medical Center, under the mentorship of Natella Rakhmanina, M.D., F.A.A.P., A.A.H.I.V.S., associate professor of Pediatrics. She will also travel to Botswana, where she will work with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative to gain international clinical experience and to evaluate how HIV screening, medication adherence, and treatment guidelines differ from that of the U.S.
"The medical work and epidemiological research opportunities in this project will give me a chance to combine both medicine and public health principles to engage in an interesting research topic, especially one of vital importance in D.C. and the world," says Lam, who hopes that her future profession will integrate clinical medicine with public health in academic medicine.
Lam attributes her academic drive to her upbringing in New Jersey, where her parents own a take-out Chinese restaurant. "I developed my work ethic while working long hours at the restaurant" says Lam, a second-generation Chinese American who is the first in her family to graduate from college, the first to obtain a master's degree, and the first to pursue a medical education. "My motivation is the result of the hard work that my elders endured to enable me to take advantage of opportunities."
And Lam has hardly missed an opportunity available at GW. She has served as a Curriculum Representative and is the Founder and Immediate-past President of the GW Chapter of the American Medical Women's Association. Last summer, she interned at the World Health Organization to work on H1N1 surveillance in Cambodia through the Summer Health Scholars Program, a scholarship supported by Christopher Barley, M.D.'93.
"I am so thankful for the scholarship opportunities available at GW because they alleviate some of the financial pressures of a medical education and connect me with accomplished, philanthropic, and successful professionals," she says. "My mentors, the Office of Student Opportunities, past scholarship recipients, and my friends have been invaluable in providing their support and assistance, and I could not have accomplished any of this without them."