Diana Lam ’20 pursues a passion for service

Diana Lam speaks from a podium.
Image credit: Diana Lam ’20
Author  Grace Ramsdell ’22
Published on 

“I didn’t know that Wellesley would change my life in the way that it has,” says Diana Lam ’20. It was at the College that Lam developed her “passion for service,” she says, in part through student leadership roles, including serving as College Government president for the 2019–20 academic year. Lam will now explore that passion as a Schwarzman Scholar, participating in a fully funded master’s program in global affairs with the Schwarzman College at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. She will join a class of 150 students from 43 countries in the program’s 2024–25 cohort.

“I grew up in Arcadia, Calif., which is a predominantly Asian American community, and I was the only person out of my family to go to college on the East Coast, and I’m also first-gen,” Lam says. Since graduating with a major in peace and justice studies and a minor in economics, Lam has worked at Bank of America Securities in New York City. She keeps connected to the Wellesley community through local alum clubs and is currently serving a three-year term as young alumna director on the board of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association.

“I always knew that I wanted to try to marry my Wellesley experience with my [Bank of America] Wall Street experience,” she says. The Schwarzman Scholars program seemed like the perfect way to do that.

Lam credits the College’s Career Education program with making the opportunity possible for her. As a student, she turned to Career Education for résumé reviews when she applied to internships, one of which led to her current job, and Career Education helped her navigate “all those sticky moments” as a senior preparing to graduate and enter the workforce.”

“The interactions that I’ve had with Career Education as an alum have been just as deep as when I was a student,” Lam says. She is especially grateful to Career Education’s fellowships director, Kate Dailinger, who guided her every step of the way during the application process for the Schwarzman program. She also had the support of Professor of Peace and Justice Studies Catia Confortini and former Career Education Director of Civic Engagement Erin Konkle, who have continued to mentor her, as well as the support of Wellesley College President Paula Johnson.

The Schwarzman Scholars program will put Lam in dialogue with classmates from around the world. “I know that those conversations—some of them might be really hard. Sometimes we might disagree,” she says. Whether on a college campus or beyond, though, she hopes that when faced with disagreements, “we can feel enough kindness and compassion for the other side to at least have a dialogue.” She adds, “I think that’s what I valued the most about Wellesley and what I’m most excited about from the program.”

Lam says she plans to return home to Arcadia eventually to engage in local civics and politics, citing “the desire to make a difference in the world and implement Wellesley’s motto”—Non Ministrari sed Ministrare.

While the Schwarzman program will offer Lam an opportunity to connect and learn with a global community, she says that as a Chinese American, it also presents a new way for her to connect with her own family.

“I am driven by my family. Every day that was a hard day at Wellesley, I was able to get through [it] because I reflected on all the sacrifices my parents have made in order to get me to just have the opportunity to even peek through the door to see Wellesley,” Lam says. “I have held that with me, throughout Wellesley, and throughout Wall Street.”

Lam is open to whatever direction her studies take her during the Schwarzman program. But she has at least one concrete goal for her time in Beijing: to work on her Mandarin, so that she can say thank you to her parents “in a way that they can really hear and understand—in their own language.”