Christine Lam of San Francisco will receive a $6,000 scholarship

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly public policy graduate student from San Francisco has received a 2021 California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement—CSU’s highest award for students.

Christine Lam, 22, was selected as Cal Poly’s awardee, the Trustee Wenda Fong and Daniel Fetterly Scholar, for her academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need. She will receive a $6,000 Trustees’ Award scholarship as part of her recognition.

“I am honored to receive this award because it ensures that I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college,” Lam said. “It means a lot to me since it shows how the sacrifices my parents made for me to pursue an education were worth it and because I will be able to focus more on my academics and personal goals instead of working to pay for school.”


The Outstanding Achievement Awards are presented annually to one student from each of the CSU system’s 23 campuses. The California State University, the largest four-year public university system in the nation, served 486,000 students in 2020-21.

Lam and the other awardees will be honored by campus presidents, CSU trustees, and donors at a virtual reception on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

“These 23 scholars wonderfully exemplify the ideals of the California State University,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “Every year, and especially this year, our Trustees’ Award honorees demonstrate resilience, tenacity, and resolve — together with a keen intellect — while making an indelible, positive impact on their families and their communities. They are truly an inspiration.”

Lam is a graduating political science major starting the Master of Public Policy program in Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA). She is expected to graduate with her masters in June 2022.

Penny Bennett, emeritus associate dean for Student Success in CLA, worked with Lam beginning with a CLA first-generation orientation course, through Lam’s time as president of the CLA Ambassadors and a peer mentor through the CLA’s Underrepresented Students Network.

“I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Christine since she arrived at Cal Poly,” Bennett stated in a recommendation letter for Lam’s Trustees’ Award. “One of the most impressive aspects of watching her success is the amount of growth I’ve seen from a young, shy, first-generation Chinese American woman to a now graduating senior with a high GPA transitioning into the Master of Public Policy Program. Her experience and confidence that she has gained over this time is truly admirable. She has an incredibly bright future ahead of her, and I can think of no one better to be selected for this award.”

In her non-English speaking immigrant household, Lam’s parents instilled in her a love of learning, encouraging her to read about many subjects. She found resources to help her apply for college and financial aid, overcoming personal challenges with support from many sources.

Growing up exposed to social issues in diverse San Francisco and being selected as a Panetta Congressional Intern, Christine was inspired to pursue public service via her masters program. She was a BEACoN Research Scholar and had internships with Northrop Grumman and Bay Area public organizations.
She works at the Cal Poly Writing Center assisting underrepresented students and is launching an online financial education business to increase youth financial literacy. Lam’s masters focus on technology policy, using technology to increase underrepresented groups’ access to education and resources. She also plans to run for Congress is in the future.

She joins more than 400 students honored with the CSU Trustees’ Award since the scholarship program was established in 1984 by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. In 1999, the foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees, CSU Foundation Board of Governors, and private donors. Each student scholarship bears the name of a donor.