Alumna and Trustee Wendy Lau is committed to giving back to both the university and community of La Verne, crediting the school with putting her on the path to personal and professional success.
April 27, 2017
Wendy Lau is building an army.
The alumna and trustee says the University of La Verne put her on the path to success. She is committed to giving back, and she is not going at it alone.
She is assembling an ever-growing circle of caring people to help with the mission, and inspiring a new generation to follow her lead. Besides serving as a trustee for six years, Lau, an attorney, is a newly-named partner at Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP, where she has focused on construction defect and employment law.
She is an international board member of her beloved Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority, a member of the City of La Verne’s Planning Commission, and a cherished friend and mentor to the students and alumni who swell the ranks of her army.
“You need to go back, you need to guide,” she said. “Your legacy is what you leave behind and how you carry on your work.”
One recruit of Lau’s army is Mary Anne Mendoza ’14, who gained the board of trustees’ support in hosting a women’s leadership conference.
“(Lau’s) desire to bring more good into the world is infectious,” Mendoza said. “It’s this commitment to making sure that you not only do good in the present, but that you plan ahead for the future by ensuring that you mentor people to take your place and go farther.”
Lau extols the leadership of President Devorah Lieberman and her team in supporting underserved and first-generation students and families.
She applauds Assistant Professor Adonay Montes, whose Migrant Education Summer Institute has helped migrant workers’ children develop the skills to move them towards college.
“We are doing amazing things,” she said. “Students with humble and even tragic backgrounds are given the opportunity to shine.”
Many of the stories bring her to tears. Lau talks about Armando, a first-generation student with ambitions to be a doctor.
“He helps support a single mom and a sibling. And all he wants to do is help other people,” she said.
She recalls a university student who was once a victim of human trafficking and drug abuse; though the student struggled, the university’s safety net was always there.
“I don’t know many institutions where faculty will take kids out for a meal if they need it,” she said.
Lau shares her own compelling La Verne experience with the students she meets. She transferred to the university from UC Irvine where “I was just a number,” she said. At La Verne, “all my professors cared. It was always ‘How are you? How was class?’And because I felt like a person and not a number, I started to get really involved. I joined my sorority and got involved in debate.”
Lau’s University of La Verne tenure deeply influenced her career choice.
“I’ve heard students at other schools say they chose law because they can make a lot of money,” she said. “A University of La Verne student says ‘I can make a difference.’That makes me so proud of my school and makes me want to give back.”
It is that pride and commitment for giving that powers Lau’s army. And her troops are on the move.