As appeared in the March 13 edition of The Western Star:
By: Gary Kean
A couple of years ago, Susan Daw was
attending a tourism conference at which Dr. Jose Lam was a guest speaker.
She was excited to not only listen to the presentation
delivered by her former business professor at Grenfell Campus, Memorial
University in Corner Brook, but also the opportunity to talk to him again.
After he had finished delivering his speech, Daw prepared to
go reintroduce herself to Lam. She expected she’d have to jog his memory as it
had been around five years since she took a class in international business
Not only did he instantly remember her by name, he
remembered where she sat in the class and recalled virtually every detail of
her group’s project about exporting iceberg vodka to Mexico.
She had always felt a special connection to the diminutive
professor from Costa Rica who seemed to always wear the hugest of smiles.
Daw could not believe it when she heard the sad news Monday
morning, ironically as she was just returning from a vacation to Costa Rica,
that Lam had died.
“He was always so pleasant, so friendly and so full of life
all the time,” she said. “He always lit up the room when he came in and he made
going to class a pleasure. As a young student, you can often find classes a
little dull, but I always enjoyed going to his.”
When she was his student, Daw never imagined one day she
would be a teacher. Yet, her career path has led her to teaching the tourism
program at the College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s.
She said Lam taught her more than the ins and out of the
tourism industry and international business.
“I look back on some of the teachers who really impacted me
and he is one of those, big time,” she said. “He really impacted me and the way
I am with my students. I try to always be smiling, no matter what’s going on,
and try to make a positive impact in my students’ lives. He inspired me to a be
a better, more positive person.”
Nicole George was in Daw’s group that tried to impress Lam
with their plan to export iceberg vodka to Mexico. She too has fond memories of
the enthusiastic support he always had for his students.
George, Daw and others in their group would always try to
incorporate elements they thought would appeal to Lam’s ever-present sense of
On one occasion, they created a funny Christmas card with a
picture of Lam wearing a Santa Claus hat on it.
“You could tell it just made his day and he still talked
about his Christmas card right up to graduation,” said George.
To them, he wasn’t just a teacher or a mentor. He was held
in the same esteem as a friend.
“Whenever we would hear of one of our friends getting Jose
as a teacher, we would them they were lucky,” said George.
WHO WAS JOSE LAM?
- According to Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, the native
of Costa Rica died this past weekend after a brief illness.
- His undergraduate bachelor of science degree is from the
University of British Columbia; his master’s science degree is from McGill
University and his master of business administration and his PhD are both from
- Lam began working at Grenfell Campus in 2009 as a
professor in the business program. He was a driving force in the development
and subsequent success of the Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre.
- He founded and personally sustained the university’s
“Films from Away” series.
- A champion for internationalization, Lam made immense
contributions to attracting students from Belize and other countries, as well
as creating productive connections with universities in Costa Rica, India, and
- He made significant research contributions on local
Newfoundland industries, including work on the Northern Peninsula to nurture
creativity and innovation in terms of regional sustainability and development.
- His research interests were in the field of
entrepreneurship and its role in economic and community development, including
traits of successful entrepreneurs, displays of creativity and innovation in
entrepreneurs, influencers on the success of business, issues facing family
business and the role of social entrepreneurship in economic development.
Lori Lee Pike photo