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My W&L: Cynthia Lam ’15

“I have been given incredible opportunities to embrace all that W&L has to offer.”

11 semesters, 2 Fancy Dresses, 36 essays (perks of being an English major), countless Wal-Mart trips, and dozens of band parties later, here I am.

Spring Term, senior year. The end of my college career.

A lot has happened in the last four years. I have examined everything from gendered coercion in Mulan to Cormac McCarthy in class, flown 3459 miles across the pond to study Shakespeare at Oxford, and consumed an impressive number of Hillel bagels. Between summers in D.C. and Sunday evenings in the Phi office, I have been given incredible opportunities to embrace all that W&L has to offer.

But if you ask me about my proudest achievement, I will tell you that it is not the number of positions I have held, or dollars I have raised, or awards I have won. You will not find it anywhere on my Linkedin page. Because my greatest success is the people — the friendships I have forged and the relationships I have cultivated along the way.

These individuals have brought me to where I am today. If Professor Mahon had not reached out to me over Christmas Break to apply to Oxford — eight days before the deadline — I would not have spent an unforgettable year abroad. If a friend had not encouraged me to submit my Davis Project for Peace proposal, I would not be going to Hong Kong this summer to launch an English academy for impoverished youth. If I had not been part of such a dedicated team for Nabors Service League, we could not have recruited so many volunteers to give back during our campus-wide Service Day.

And then there are the things that people do, every single day, that make all the difference. Friends who wake up at 6 a.m. to drive you to the LSAT. Sorority sisters who save you the last piece of brie at lunch, because it is your favorite. Roommates who surprise you on Monday morning with freshly-baked mufffins. Professors who hold “special office hours” at Macado’s before a big paper. Classmates who scan 60 pages of reading for you when you forget it. These moments remind me again and again of the amazing community we have here.

Students, professors, administrators, the list goes on. These individuals have always been there for me, ready to help at the drop of a hat. Even when I am away from Lexington, I still experience the energy and compassion of this community, which consistently goes above and beyond to help me achieve my dreams — be it law school, travel or simply the confidence to succeed. I am continually amazed by this powerful support network, and even more grateful for the phenomenal people I have encountered at W&L. I could not have done it without them.

This, for me, is the thread that ties everything together. Indeed, this is the reason that brought me to W&L. Four years ago, I walked into the Northern Jersey Admitted Students Reception, torn between two schools. I was immediately welcomed with open arms from students, parents and alumni, who went above and beyond to make me feel at home. I was a part of the community, long before I had even set foot on campus. When I sent in my decision that evening, I knew I had made the right choice.

Soon, it will be time for me to leave Lexington. A lot has happened in these four years, and a lot more will happen in the next forty. But I know that the people — and this community — will follow me wherever I go.

If you know any W&L students who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.

Hometown: Westfield, N.J.

Majors: English (BA) and Business Administration (BSc)

Minors: Creative Writing and Philosophy

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Managing Editor, Ring Tum Phi
  • Special Events Chair, Nabors Service League
  • Honor Advocate
  • Writing Center Tutor
  • Tour Guide
  • Pi Beta Phi Sorority
  • Glasgow Endowment Committee

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • 2015 Davis Project for Peace, Hong Kong (Grant, Summer 2015)
  • Legal Services of New Jersey, NJ (Internship, Summer 2014)
  • Oxford University, England (Study Abroad, 2013-2014)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC (Fellowship & Johnson Opportunity Grant, Summer 2013)
  • Merck Employees Federal Credit Union, NJ (Internship, Summer 2012)

Post-Graduation Plans: Channeling my inner Elle Woods at law school this fall (either Stanford or University of Pennsylvania).

Favorite W&L Memory: O-Week junior year. So many memories were made during those five days.

Favorite Class: “Business Ethics” with Professor Sandy Reiter. Loved our discussions and readings about morality and professionalism. Turns out “business ethics” doesn’t have to be a paradox!

Favorite W&L Activity: Sorority lunch, because it combines my two favorite things in the world: friends and food. What’s not to love?

Favorite Campus Landmark: If you stand right in front of Lee Chapel, you’ll find the echo spot — aka the coolest 2′ X 2′ square feet on campus.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? “How I Met Your Mother” is my all-time favorite show. I once watched 19 straight hours of it (I would advise against that, for future reference).

What’s your passion? People. I am passionate about helping others, especially the underrepresented and disadvantaged, which is why I am determined to make a difference.


What professor has inspired you? Professor Lesley Wheeler is one of the kindest, most intelligent people I know. I had the honor of having her as my advisor from day one, where I was instantly drawn to her warmth and sincerity. She cares deeply about her students, going out of her way to help us succeed. This spirit is truly inspiring.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus? Freshman year, one of my best friends had a poster on her wall: “No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep.” At the time, I laughed and went to bed. But now I have come to appreciate this quote. Sleep is definitely important, but there are many important things to embrace in college, as well. Some of my greatest memories come from the nights I stayed up just a little longer.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Create a future worthy of your past. Keep on challenging, pushing, and outdoing yourself to be even better than who you were yesterday. You will be amazed at what you can do.