U.S. Department of State Awards Critical Language Scholarship to UM College of Arts & Sciences Student

First-Generation College Student Christine Lam Was Selected From Among over 5,000 Applicants to Study Language Abroad

After focusing on scientific pursuits during her time in the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, Christine Lam will spend the summer honing her language skills.

Lam, who graduates on Friday with a degree in microbiology and immunology – and minors in biology, chemistry and psychology – will study in Chinese in China this summer through the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, awarded to approximately 10% of the more than 5,000 applicants from across the United States.

The program funds undergraduate and graduate students to attend intensive language institutes in 13 countries. During the 10-week program, Lam will study intermediate/advanced Chinese and participate in cultural enrichment experiences.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Lam, whose parents immigrated to the United States from China in the 1980s. The Brooklyn, NY, native is the first generation in her family born in America, and the first to attend college.

She plans to put her experience to China to use in a medical career.

Lam said, “Every culture has a different approach to medicine and staying healthy. I am interested in learning about these different views so that I can better treat the increasingly diverse population in the U.S.”

She added, “The CLS scholarship will allow me to deepen my understanding of the language and culture in China, where my family is from. This will open doors for me to be able to study Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I plan to integrate into my future medical practice to provide alternative treatment options for my patients.”

“In addition, this will enhance my ability to communicate with and treat non-English speaking patients,” she said.

She already speaks fluent Spanish, which she has used when volunteering in a rural community health clinic in Guatemala and working with Spanish-speaking populations here in Miami.

Lam is a sister of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She is currently applying to physician assistant programs.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Participants are expected to apply their language skills in their future professional careers.

For more information on student scholarship opportunities contact the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships.

May 15, 2014