Barrett alumnus pursues post-graduate degree in Canada

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December 5, 2018


Connor Leshner, a recent Barrett alumnus, is completing a graduate degree at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. His studies focus primarily on sex and relationships, which he became interested in during his undergraduate years as a double-major in psychology and sociology with a minor in women and gender studies. Connor has already completed a variety of work on these topics, including dissertations on culture and relationships in general interest fan groups and cosplay communities. According to Leshner, his choice to study abroad has only enhanced his interests, as Canadian academic culture welcomes and encourages the examination of these subjects.

“Canada is amazing with funding and openness when it comes to sex research,” the student noted. “I am also working under an amazing professor who is well-trained in statistics and methodology, and we hope to do some pretty extraordinary stuff examining what happens in the bedroom that has never really been done before.”

Leshner hopes that, with this experience under his belt, he will earn a Ph.D. in the field. Afterwards, his plan is to work as either a professor or running statistics for websites and dating apps, even aiming for dual citizenship between Canada and the US to continue his international endeavors. Many of these goals and aspirations were formed and fostered through the Barrett undergraduate experience, which Leshner believes gave him the tenacity to apply to competitive programs abroad.

“My thesis looking at couples at Phoenix ComicCon helped me decide what I wanted to do in graduate school. I may not have found the program I’m in if it weren’t for working on this research. It definitely gave me an edge on my applications. The work at Barrett was by no means easy. My thought was, if I could finish my honors degree at Barrett, then living abroad wouldn’t be too hard.”

While studying at Barrett, Leshner discovered his true wanderlust and secured a spot on a study abroad trip to Finland, where he discovered amazing international universities and the value of global coursework. “It was my first time outside the US without my family and it gave me the courage to think outside the box of country lines when looking for graduate programs,” allowing for Leshner’s interest and confidence in applying to these programs. He was also encouraged by Barrett faculty, who funneled time and energy into his ultimate success in his undergraduate and post-graduate pursuits.

“The faculty were so supportive when completing my thesis, and it is impossible to understate how much they worked with me to make my thesis the best it could be. I want to personally recognize Drs. Amira de la Garza, Robert Mack, Donald Fette and Mary Ingram-Waters for their support. Dr. Kyle Mox and Brian Goehner from the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) were also super supportive and I cannot understate how much they worked to ensure that I was aiming as high as I could.”

Leshner also recognized the importance of participating in global engagement opportunities. “The world is a big place, and you don’t get an accurate picture of it in your undergraduate bubble,” he concluded, “there’s literally infinite ways to see the world, and there are fewer barriers than you think to making it happen. It takes a fraction of the tenacity it does to complete your honors degree to do what needs to be done to see the world.”

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