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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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February 15, 2012

From Management to Medicine: Peter Sam Featured in UNL Video Spotlight

When Peter Sam moved to Gothenburg, Neb., from Los Angeles, Calif., in 2005, he experienced culture shock. A sophomore in high school at the time, Sam liked to blend into the crowd -- but his collegiate success at CBA is making it harder for him to go unnoticed.

Sam was recently featured in a Go Big Red promotional video to spotlight UNL achievement in the Big Ten conference. The attention Sam has received has forced him to extend his people skills. Spending his high school days in Gothernburg helped prepare him for the new experiences.
“I was shy and it was tough meeting people. However, everyone was nice in Gothenburg and introduced themselves, so it was much easier to get to know people,” Sam.
His parents, Kit and Lan Sam, moved to Nebraska to open a restaurant. Both were born in Guangzhu, China, and did not speak fluent English. Peter greeted patrons, dealt with the business paperwork, trained new employees, helped with advertising and translated for his parents.
“I learned a lot about running a business and developed an entrepreneurship mind,” Sam said.
When it was time to select a college, he wanted to stay in state to make tuition affordable.
“Visiting was the deciding factor for me in choosing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The people I met provided valuable insight about UNL, the College of Business Administration and the city of Lincoln, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of something big,” Sam said.
Now a senior, Sam plans to be an interventional cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in the catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. Since he also wants to own his own practice, he decided to major in management.
Sam has already shadowed nurses and doctors at three hospitals in Nebraska and one in San Diego.
“At Schripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, I was right next to the doctor while he was in surgery. I got to see everything while they explained step-by-step what they were doing.  One doctor taught me how to look at a cardiogram of a heart,” he said.
He was one of 60 students selected from all over the country to be part of the summer Medical and Dental Education Program offered by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“This program prepared us for medical school. People from all over the world were there and it wasn’t all about studying. It really broke down the stereotypes related to these professions and solidified that I want to be a doctor,” he said.
While at UNL, Sam has been very active in the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities.
“SIFE is a great organization and I have gained so much life experience and improved my leadership skills in the process. I’m helping people with projects and building my resume at the same time,” he said.
This fall, Sam received the Alvin Rohrs Servant Leadership Scholarship and the Paul Hogan Entrepreneurial Scholarship. The Rohrs award recognizes a SIFE student who had the greatest impact improving their team as servant leader. The Hogan award honors a CBA student for academic excellence and a desire to start his or her own business following graduate.
“I was honored and am extremely grateful for both awards. They have made my senior year less stressful,” said Sam, who no longer wants to blend into the crowd. He will take the MCAT this spring and apply for early admission to the University of Nebraska Medical School.