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 Trust Yourself

Advice to Undergrads

Wai Lam, Class of '82
2007 Distinguished Alumni Award Honoree


 Tuan Le, [AA]2, AA E-Zine, alumn; Ivy Jiang; Yunfan Wang, 1st child of China
alumnus to attend SBU; Jenny Mai, CASB, alumn; Derrick Tan, CASB;
Wai Lam, DAA Honoree, alumn; Denny Mai, CASB; John Cordero, [AA]2 nominator,
CASB, alumn; Philip Lai, CASB, alumn; Tamami Ushiroda, AA E-Zine, alumn;
Ja Young, [AA]2, AA E-Zine, alumn; Huy Huynh, AA E-Zine
Click photo for enlargement. 

16 November 2007

The beautiful atmosphere of Flowerfield in St. James was fitting as part of Stony Brook University’s 50th Anniversary celebration for the Alumni Association to present five honorees with the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2007. Wai Lam, a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of FalconStor, one of Long Island’s top 75 companies, was the first Chinese American to be recognized with this award from SBU.

With live music in the background, the ambiance of conversation of a full dining hall in candle light filled the room. My palate was delighted when the variety of food displayed to perfection surprisingly lived up to my expectations. A moment later, we were ushered into the next room for the award ceremony. To get there, most of the guests had to cross the centerpiece of the dining hall - an elegant bridge over the koi pond. At that moment, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the honorees felt crossing the bridge to be of any significance as they walked up and over to the other side to celebrate their accomplishments with their friends and families.

As representatives of the Asian and Asian American community of Stony Brook University, members of the AA E-Zine, [AA]2, former and current CASB Presidents, and a special Chinese American faculty dinner committee joined Wai's family, friends, and colleagues for the momentous occasion.  I expected a solemn speech followed by polite applause; instead Mr. Lam filled the room with laughter by recalling his times at Stony Brook. One he referred to as “a geeks dream come true” that sometimes went wrong as he told the story of trying to teach calculus to his wife, who is also a Stony Brook alumna. 

In the brief interview after the award ceremony, I asked Mr. Lam to give a word of advice to the next graduating class of engineers. He simply answered, “Trust yourself.”

He made this statement with conviction, commitment, and the confidence in his voice of a great presence, yet it felt like an uncle giving a piece of advice to a niece who was about to step out into the real world. I can’t help but think that Wai Lam meant something more than when people say “believe in yourself.” I think many would agree that it is far more difficult to truly trust yourself than to just believe you can accomplish your dreams. 

The evening came to a close when [AA]2, AA E-Zine, and CASB members got together for pictures with Mr. Lam, who never stopped to humor his audience. I couldn’t help but laugh when Alumni Association members would walk by and ask if we were all related and Mr. Lam would reply by saying “they’re extended family.” Only a person who truly felt that way could contribute so much to the College of Engineering and the Asian American community of Stony Brook. 

Mr. Lam has set a great example, and laid down shoes that will be difficult to fill, but what a great challenge it will be for future Asian American alumni of SBU. To a charming man who is still showing the world all that he is capable of, Congratulations Distinguished SBU Alumnus Wai Lam!

Tamami Ushiroda
Stony Brook Alumna ‘07

Dean Yacov Shamash's presentation of the award to Wai Lam, and Wai's humorous and touching speech, are online at

The video is in Quicktime and needs a broadband connection with the latest software to view correctly. A free version of the player is available from Apple at

Photos from the event are at

And check out what FalconStor does at


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