Published May 10, 2022
Graduate School of Education alumnus Carl Lam, EdM ‘16, was recognized as one of Buffalo Business First’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2022 honorees. Every year, the list celebrates young professionals positively impacting their industries and communities.
Honorees are chosen based on career achievements, community engagement and leadership capabilities. As an adjunct lecturer, meteorologist for Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV and Toronto’s CFTR-AM, and resource analyst in the Office of Resource Planning at the University at Buffalo, Lam serves several communities every day.
As a resource analyst, he develops multi-year business plans and liaises between units and central administration in the annual resource planning process. He has also served the UB community as an advisor, providing guidance to students hoping to become doctors and dentists.
His efforts to help others are different as a meteorologist: “All of us are in the industry to serve the community. It’s not about us—we’re there to provide vital information to people who are watching,” he said.
Lam also runs a mentorship program at the Buffalo Broadcasters Association for students interested in broadcasting.
While he was initially surprised by the recognition, he acknowledges that his commitment to giving back to the Buffalo community likely led to his name appearing on the list. “It’s less about me and more about the city,” said Lam. “This is my hometown.”
He knew he wanted to pursue a career in higher education after studying music education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he developed a passion for assisting students in his program choose the right classes. Classmates recognized him as an unofficial advisor due to the helpful documentation he shared each semester. “I would spend the entire night making different packets. Later into my college career, I had different ones for first-year, second-year and third-year students on the music education track,” he said.
Observing Lam’s natural talent for giving support and guidance, his mentor suggested that he pursue a career in higher education and student affairs. Together, they explored higher education graduate programs, and Lam ultimately decided he wanted to study at UB.
“Coming to UB was a new frontier,” said Lam. “There are a lot of differences between Fredonia and here, and I thought it would be great to learn about higher ed in one of the biggest public institutions.”
I love being tossed into a field that I know nothing about. I love staring down the learning curve … and the challenge of learning all that information."
His decision to enroll in GSE’s higher education administration program—now higher education and student affairs program—proved to be the perfect next step. Courses with William “Bill” Barba, former clinical professor of higher education and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, and Namsook Kim, clinical assistant professor of educational leadership and policy, solidified his love of working in academia.
In particular, Kim’s cultural diversity in higher education class left a lasting impact: “It was such a great experience to have that space where we were learning so much and having a chance to talk about everything surrounding multiculturalism and diversity—not just in an institution of higher education, but also in general,” he said. “Here I am, seven years out from the class, and I’m still thinking about the things that she taught us and, you know, we’re all better for being her student and having that experience with her.”
Kim still remembers Lam’s contributions, too. She recalls Lam’s vulnerability, and public speaking and leadership skills.
“As an instructor, it was such a joy for me to have Carl, who so proudly and so enthusiastically shared his journey as a person …In our predominantly white institution, we are lucky to have Asian and other BIPOC presence; but their diverse perspectives and impactful stories are not fully heard or celebrated as they should be. With that regard, I recognize and appreciate his contribution to our growth as a school,” said Kim.
As a self-proclaimed lifelong student, Lam continued his academic journey after graduating from GSE. He has since earned a master’s degree in music performance, an advanced certificate in professional writing and digital communication—both from UB—and a broadcast meteorology certificate from Mississippi State University.
He is currently enrolled in UB’s master of business administration program and a nonprofit management advanced certificate program at Washington University in St. Louis.
“I love being tossed into a field that I know nothing about. I love staring down the learning curve … and the challenge of learning all that information,” said Lam.
While he is unsure where his career will take him in the future, he hopes to always work in higher education, an environment that he believes keeps him intellectually curious. But for now, he is honored to receive a spot on the 30 Under 30 list. According to Lam, receiving this recognition would not have been possible without the lessons he learned from his parents.
“My parents taught me the value of hard work and encouraged me to be ambitious,” he said. “This is a testament to them and what they instilled in me. I am just carrying on their legacy of hard work and service to the community.”