#IAmNYAS: Kristy Lamb
Meet Kristy Lamb—STEM mentor extraordinaire—and learn how mentoring can be just as rewarding for mentors as it is for mentees.
When it comes to STEM mentoring, some might call Academy Member Kristy Lamb, PhD, a superstar. Trained as a bench scientist, she earned her PhD in Genetics from Yale and did her postdoc years at Weill Cornell. Two years ago, she moved away from the bench to become a STEM Career Advisor at St. John's University, devoting herself to work with young people pursuing careers in science full-time. Read on to learn more about Kristy, why she mentors, and how she's involved with the Academy's own mentoring programs.
How long have you been a STEM mentor?
I've been mentoring in STEM for more than a decade. As an undergraduate, I helped found and run a STEM mentoring program that placed undergrads at North Carolina State University in a local elementary school for science fair mentoring. During graduate school, I mentored with Women in Science at Yale and joined the executive board, which collectively administered the mentoring program.
What have been some of the most rewarding moments of your career?
The moment I got data from a second, biochemical method that matched the data I had generated using a bacterial model-essentially, the moment I knew I had a story for my thesis.
And, it's a little cheesy, but I keep an email folder labeled "Yay" for all the emails students send me after their job interviews or about their grad or med school applications, thanking me and telling me how they turned out. For me, there is no better feeling than the student who comes by my office to tell me that they got the opportunity to do what they wanted after spending time coaching them on how to get to that goal.
Why do you mentor?
I've invested so much time in mentoring because I believe it is both a joy and a duty to help the generations behind us enter the field. I was a first generation college student, and though my parents are fabulously supportive, there are areas they just don't know anything about.
I wouldn't be where I am today without those who took the time to point me in the right direction and I am happy to do so for others. There were many days I felt alone and isolated in science and other people opening up about their accomplishments and their challenges helped me move forward, and I want to provide that kind of open encouragement for others.
What do you find unique about the Academy's mentoring programs?
I learned about [The Academy's] NeXXt Scholars program shortly before it launched, and began mentoring there as I began my postdoc. For 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, I've taken on the role of Group Leader and Master Mentor. I think the program really challenges participants to think deeply, and in a guided way, about what they want to do and who they want to become. I particularly appreciate the materials that ask participants to consider who their support team is for how to meet their goals-it really empowers people to think about what they do have access to and who is willing to help them.
How has participating in Academy mentoring programs helped your own career?
I have grown tremendously in my ability to communicate with people globally, to facilitate discussions, and to consider the circumstances of others. While the world is getting smaller thanks to technology, it has been interesting and challenging to learn how access to and use of technology varies globally. This has made me think long and hard about what the heart of our message to participants is and what mentoring is really all about. The enthusiasm and confidence of so many of the girls absolutely inspires me, and seeing high school aged girls hungry for college and its opportunities really helps re-energize me for my day-to-day work with college students.
You too can make a lasting impact on the life and future career trajectory of a young STEM student. The mentor application period for 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures and The Junior Academy opens today. Apply today!
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