Professors Inspire Graduate to Join Peace Corps
Raised by sponsor families for much of her life, Michele Lam spent her youth searching for a place she felt at home. When the Robertson family took her to Longwood University for a tour, she found that place. And now, she's using what she's learned at Longwood - and its sense of community - to make a difference for others.
"Longwood is such a unique school," Lam, a 2011 Longwood graduate, said. "Every one of my professors pushed me, and I fell in love with getting an education. The school offers you so many opportunities to explore different avenues, and offers so much support, spirit and heart along the way. I can't even count on my fingers and toes the number of people who have helped and inspired me."
A biology major, Lam found her support system - and a great deal of her inspiration - in biology professor Dr. Mark Fink and his wife, Dr. Alix Fink, who encouraged Lam to consider all of her options upon graduation. As a result, Lam applied for - and received - a position with the Peace Corps. She'll head to Paraguay in late September for a two-year tour, returning to the States in 2014.
"I started thinking about the Peace Corps in high school, but it wasn't until I met the Finks that I really gave it serious consideration," said Lam. "I would not be where I am today without the Finks, and I will be forever grateful for the role they played in shaping my future."
While in Paraguay, Lam will focus her efforts with the Peace Corps in agriculture. She will be working with bees, cotton and soybeans, helping local farmers to maximize their own land and new resources and develop organic and sustainable farming techniques.
"The wonderful thing about working in agriculture is that the benefits will reach far beyond just those farmers who I come in immediate contact with," said Lam. "I can take the skills I learned at Longwood and apply them to an environment where I can really make a difference."
And, while Lam is most excited about giving back, she knows the experience will teach her a great deal, too.
"I am going to have the opportunity to meet the faces of Paraguay, to truly immerse myself in their culture, and to be humbled by their people," said Lam. "Sometimes those people who have little really have everything, because they have such a great attitude on life. I am excited to continue learning from them, and to apply those lessons to whatever my future holds."