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Charting His Own Course: Timothy Lam
This story is part of a series highlighting 50 intriguing alumni as part of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Yearning for a new career in the early 2000s, Timothy Lam decided to tap into his love for travel and hospitality. So the Hong Kong transplant—already equipped with a master’s degree in international business—set about comparing various hospitality programs around the country. He quickly felt drawn to the Harrah Hotel College.
“My campus tour as a prospective UNLV student underscored the generosity within the college and the industry,” Lam says. “I felt an instant connection with everyone at the Hotel College. I knew it was the place for me.”
The word “hospitality” soon took on a new meaning when former Hotel College professor Ellis Norman offered Lam a spare room after learning that the new student’s living situation — a seedy motel — was less than ideal.
“His wife opened the door, and she had no idea who I was,” laughs Lam, who arrived at Norman’s house with suitcases and a bottle of wine. “Ellis hadn’t told her I was coming, but apparently he took in stray students all the time. They both were so welcoming.”
Lam’s academic work with Norman and other Hotel College faculty, including former professor Patti Shock, inspired him to establish The International School of Hospitality in 2005, which caters to career changers interested in specific areas of hospitality.
“There are no books out there that teach you how to open your own school, so I relied heavily on my UNLV education,” Lam says. “I thought my friends would only be my classmates, but I found a family within the faculty as well.”
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