The path Prudence Lam took to becoming a medical doctor was not a conventional one. Yet, as far as Lam is concerned it has been the right path for her.
"It took me a little longer because after college I went through a time when I didn't know whether I wanted to continue with medicine," says the 1989 MHS graduate.
She looked into careers in journalism and law, and worked for a while as a mental health counselor.
"If I could give some advice to a young person, it would be to follow your own path toward your career and family life. Don't worry about what your friends and peers are doing and what career schedules they're on. It took me a while to get to my present position, but all of my experiences contributed to who I am today."
Perhaps Lam learned to choose and follow her own path because of her experiences at Minnetonka High School, where, she admits, she endured her first "character building" experiences.
Lam transferred to MHS for her sophomore year from Elkhart, Indiana. The move included her mother, Jean, father, Charles, a chemist, and her two brothers, Paul ('91) and Rich ('92).
"High school is hard enough in itself," she says. "To transfer like that was probably tougher on me than I realized at the time. But looking back, everything worked out quite well. In fact, I believe it forced me to grow and learn more about myself and how to present myself to others."
While at MHS, Lam was an honor roll student, the editor of the student newspaper, The Breezes, and was involved in choir and orchestra. As a senior, she also was chosen to be part of the homecoming court.
When asked if any teachers had a great influence on her, she says: "There were many teachers that I respected. I really enjoyed my classes with the Skoys, Glenn and Mary, who taught English."
There was also Bill Chisholm, also an English teacher. "He was tough, but I think he pushed me and helped me rise above." She also cites calculus teacher, Leo Razidlo, as one of her favorites.
After graduating from MHS, Lam headed to Stanford University. When she finally decided medicine was indeed the profession for her, she attended the University of Vermont - College of Medicine.
During her hematology-oncology fellowship training after medical school and internal medicine residency, she led a cancer research project at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Her research included writing several articles for a variety of medical journals. One project showed that if a certain molecule, the "Pin1," could be blocked in patients with a certain type of breast cancer, doctors might be able to provide more effective treatment.
These days, Lam is a hematologist-oncologist at two Boston-area hospitals, Cambridge and Mount Auburn.
"I am now much more involved in the clinical part of the job, treating patients," she says. "Prevention and cancer genetics is also an important part of what I do and discuss with my patients, and that is currently what holds my interest."
So does her family, which includes her husband, Michael Goldstein, the CEO and founder of MATCH Public Charter School in Boston, their two-year-old son, Nash, and three-month-old daughter, Daphne Aviva.
Lam still remains in touch with quite a few of her classmates and still has quite a soft spot in her heart for her days at MHS.
"I was really fortunate to find such a strong group of friends at MHS," she says. "Minnetonka High School gave me a strong foundation, both academically and socially, and I've carried that with me over the years."