CNUSD Alumni Student Highlight

CNUSD Alumni Highlight
Posted on 06/17/2021
CNUSD Alumni Student Highlightalumni highlight

As a 2018 John F. Kennedy Middle College alumni, Breanna Lam had many advantages that set her up for success - from the opportunity to take high school and college classes simultaneously to having an environment that encouraged diversity in thought and practice. These opportunities in CNUSD allowed her to thrive in school and influenced the person she is today.

After graduating from JFK Middle College High School, Breanna attended the University of California San Diego to pursue a career in the medical field as a doctor. During the first quarter in college, she realized that, unlike high school, college courses were less structured; however, Breanna found herself better prepared due to the opportunity to take college courses through JFK’s concurrent enrollment program with Norco College.

As a freshman in college, Breanna took a volunteer position at a local hospital. This was when she realized becoming a doctor was not for her.

“I was not aware of the challenges of being a doctor until I got to experience it first-hand,” said Lam. “I was no longer top of my class like in high school, and I had to work extremely hard to do well. To add, I was not having fun in my volunteer role. How was I supposed to become a doctor when I dreaded my volunteer shift every week?”

At first, Breanna was scared, but the many talks with mentors and teachers from her former high school made the situation easier to handle. She realized everyone fails at some point in their lives and may change paths multiples times. Breanna understood what distinguished those who were successful during difficult times was their reaction to the situation. It was then she came to terms with the fact that being a medical doctor was not for her.

This challenging experience and along with the decision to quit her volunteering position at the hospital allowed Breanna to focus her time on what mattered. It allowed her to do research and explore novel fields. She discovered skills in research also translated to the classroom, and she was able to quickly learn what worked best for her when it came to understanding the content being taught.

“My realization and acceptance led me down a completely different path than I originally imagined; however, it has been incredibly fruitful,” said Breanna. 

In the past three years, Breanna has received numerous research-oriented scholarships, including the Ledell Science and Engineering Scholarship. She has also presented her work at multiple local and national conferences, published a paper, and gained admission into several top-tier research programs. In the fall, she will be joining MIT’s Ph.D. program in Biology, where she will be funded by the program and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.

“These opportunities would not have been available to me if I had stayed the course and did not venture into something new,” said Lam. “The opportunities I had while a student at CNUSD, compounded by the lessons I learned from those older and wiser, helped me succeed in college and in my research endeavors.”   

Click here to learn more about how students can have the opportunity to pursue college courses while still in high school in our Concurrent Enrollment program at JFK Middle College High School.

Click here to learn more about Women in STEM.