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I failed elementary school in Vietnam for two years. The last days of the Vietnam War were also my last days of school. After the war, schools were used mostly for propaganda, so my dad decided to pull me out of 4th grade. In 1980, I escaped Vietnam using a small fishing boat, and I became known as one of the “boat people.”

After two years as a refugee in two countries, I finally established myself in Dallas, Texas. After nine years of failing and dropping out of school, enrolling back in high school as a sophomore without English skills was extremely difficult.

One day, I saw a photo of Dartmouth College, and I could not help but dream to be there someday. With a low B grade average and poor SAT score, my dream for ivy wall was quickly vanished. After high school, I attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I was involved extensively with cancer research studying the mitochondrial DNA in tumorigenesis. While in college I also worked at Children’s Medical Center isolating DNA from 32 fragile X syndrome families and used molecular probes to map the Fragile X genetic locus. I was co-author for this work in the American Journal of Medical Genetics 43, 312-319, 1992. The hard work paid off. Seven years after high school, I was accepted as a graduate student at Dartmouth College and earned my master’s degree. Collectively, I had over eight years of medical research experience and was co-author of seven major publications. My research has provided me experience with analyzing experimental results, designing follow-up experiments, modifying techniques, and troubleshooting technical problems.

I enjoy sports such as table tennis, soccer, rowing, and volleyball. I was a member of the soccer and volleyball clubs at Oral Roberts University. At Dartmouth, I established The Tu Luong Foundation, which provides medical and educational services for refugees.

Why do I want to become a teacher? As a former refugee, I feel that I owe a great deal to this country and helping families and students achieve the American Dream through education is one of the greatest ways to repay my debt to America. I want to help students who are “average” or at-risk, like I was to succeed in school and be admitted to colleges.



As a teacher, I hope my phone does not ring during class. For more information, please email.  Thank you for your understanding and consideration.

Tan M. Lam


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