Paying it forward with mentorship

Kiana Hester traces her love of mentorship back to two family doctors she knew growing up. Besides sparking Hester’s lifelong interest in medicine and science, these doctors “rooted for me, motivated me and let me interview them,” Hester said. “They even volunteered to write me letters of recommendation for medical school.”

Valuing their support and professional insights, Hester was inspired to pay it forward and become a mentor herself. During her undergraduate studies at Northern Illinois University, Hester joined a multicultural sorority. There, she formed her own mentor relationships, helping to connect new sorority members with helpful campus resources and guiding them to the professional development needed to succeed after graduation.

“I think I have always enjoyed passing on knowledge,” she adds. “It is really rewarding.”

Formerly a senior study technician and now a research assistant I for metabolism-in-life at Labcorp, Hester mentors four recent company hires. She trains them on how to set up studies, perform sample collections, conduct unique dosings and more. When giving feedback, she focuses on positive reinforcement.

“I like to draw out where they were before and how they’ve improved,” Hester explains. Her ultimate goal in mentoring is to help her mentees gain the confidence to take initiative. 

“Challenges are going to come, but I love when I have a mentee who is excited to take on challenges—even if they’re nervous but willing to try,” Hester says. “It gives me a preview of the type of study technician they can become. I love to see them grow into leadership and be a mentor (to other new employees).”

Reflecting on what makes a good leader, Hester shared three important characteristics:

  1. Accountability. “I think a good leader has to be willing to take accountability. The worst thing a leader can be is a know-it-all. They should have accountability to admit, ‘I don’t know everything, but I’ll do my best.’”

  2. Healthy communication. “People are not going to come to you if they feel like they can’t come and bring certain issues.”

  3. Willingness to provide new opportunities. “New people need to have an opportunity to learn and be trained. Instead of hijacking everything because you can do it quicker, you should let newer employees try to do it first.”
Especially when working with more novice trainees, Hester does her best to assure them they don’t have to be perfect on the first attempt. Her personal philosophy? “Don’t be hard on yourself. The worst that could happen is you don’t do it correctly, but that’s why it’s training. Give it your best shot; that’s what I try to do every day. As long as I know I’m putting my best foot forward, I’m going to be happy.”

From the lab to the office to the flight deck, we invite you to learn more about the people behind innovative science. See how our employees are improving health and improving lives while growing their careers at Labcorp through our Spotlight Video Series. 

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