Even if you don’t personally know Lawrence Lam, you probably know someone who does. In his seven years at UBC, Lam has studied in two faculties, worked at UBC Rec, served as an RA, vice president of the Residence Hall Association, president of the Materials Engineering Undergraduate Society and a UBC Campus Ambassador — and that’s less than half of his involvements. It’s his engagement with the UBC community and seemingly ubiquitous presence that’s earned him the title “king of involvement” from his friends.
Lam grew up in Abbotsford, B.C. and though now in Engineering, he initially entered UBC in the Faculty of Science with plans to study medicine.
“In my third year in sciences I kind of went through a bit of an identity crisis and wasn’t very happy with my studying … I identified that I just needed a big switch,” Lam said. “It ended up being going into engineering, which was -- I think -- the right choice at the time, and I still think it’s the right choice.
Lam’s first foray into on-campus involvement was becoming a residence advisor in Place Vanier, a job he did for two consecutive years.
“People come to university being new and not knowing what to do and I was a resource for them to help them through that transition. The second time I did it, I think I got the chance to really identify what my style was. To find that balance of authority but also being chill and being their friend. In that year was when I really started to shine in my role.”
Lam used his experience as an RA as a springboard to other opportunities, from assistant events director at UBC Rec to working as a residence coordinator.
“I think that once you’re able to get your foot in the door with something -- and my something was residence life, getting hired as an RA -- it’s the door to expand to everything else you want to do.”
This year, Lam has, by his standards, scaled back his involvement -- though he’s still doing more in the way of extracurriculars than most people on campus. He’s taking his final year to focus on his studies and prepare for entering the job market, though he’s also dedicating considerable time to his role as president of the Materials Engineering Undergraduate Club (MTRL Club.)
As president of the MTRL Club, Lam aims to bridge the gap between lower- and upper-year students in his department and help to integrate younger students with professors and student research groups. He also hopes to help students and onlookers alike understand what, exactly, Materials Engineering is.
“No one ever knows -- even our own students. So we’re hopefully giving them a chance to figure that out a little bit quicker,” Lam said with a laugh.
Lam isn’t certain about what he wants to do as a career once he graduates, but he’s considered everything from sports management, to consulting, to materials manufacturing. He hasn’t ruled out coming back to UBC, either.
Lam has a huge network of friends and colleagues at UBC, but does he feel like a celebrity?
“The part of me that wants to attempt to be humble wants to be like, ‘no no no, not really!’ But I do hear a lot, my current roommate coined the term ‘local celebrity’ and they like to call me that. I’m the sort of person that, when I’m walking around campus, no one wants to walk with me because I’ll stop and talk with people all the time. I think part of the reason for that is, if I meet someone and see them again, I’ll probably want to stop and say hi.”
Lam’s time at UBC -- at least as a student -- is coming to an end, but he’s happy about what he’s done during his tenure here.
“I think I’m one of the few people who truly feels that, at the end of my degree, I’ve done everything I wanted to do in my undergrad degree.”