‘My love for my culture runs deep’

Awel Lam, in red dress and long curly hair.

Awel Lam wants to improve access to health care in underdeveloped countries like her native South Sudan, and the University of Minnesota Duluth student is getting top-notch experience by working in rural Minnesota.

Lam holds an associate’s degree from Rochester Community College and is finishing a public health degree at UMD.

"UMD offered real-life learning,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for better experiences.”

Course work and internships at UMD gave her exposure to work in the public health field.

“I worked with Carlton County on a whole list of projects,” she says. They included suicide prevention, overdose prevention and education, encouraging rural stores to carry produce, and the safe handling of medical needles. Also, “I was invited to a medical ethics conference at the medical school, and I attended a gala event for the American Refugee Committee. I met people in the public health field from all over the world.”

Lam’s last semester will take her back to Rochester to work with Olmsted County’s public health professionals.

“Working in Minnesota’s public health system is so valuable to me,” says Lam, who also has had at least one memorable nonmedical experience in the United States: Last year she was crowned Miss South Sudan 2018.

“I want girls to see my desire to get an education and become an international force for better health care. I want to give them that hope,” she says

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities