Cassandra Hesse

Hesse Cassandra's image
The influence of pornography on adolescents
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue a graduate degree because I want to be a leader in sexual education research. Having always been interested in the sexual health of young people, I want to earn the credentials that would allow me to have an academically-supported approach in teaching others about sex research and education. With this knowledge and training, I can inspire others using empirically-based ideas, and provide support to those who may struggle with various stigma's associated with sex and sexuality. Overall, my goal is to become an advocate for the sexual health and well-being of young people through research and education, and inspire those who have not yet found their own direction. I believe this to be the true essence of a leader, one who encourages her students to strive not just for goodness, but greatness.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose to study at UBC because of its incredible reputation for supporting diverse perspectives. As it is one of the top universities worldwide, I loved that I could be at an award-winning university and conduct my research with some of the top people in my field of work. I knew coming to UBC that I would have the full support of the faculty when examining deeply contoversial ideologies that shape human sexual development.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

Studying human development is complex and requires diverse, open-minded opportunities. Therefore, I love how my program, Human Development, Learning, and Culture is flexible, student-centered and interdisciplinary. Joining this program has allowed me to meet some incredible individuals who are also looking to support others through research and education. Truly, the best thing about my program is that you not only learn the fundamentals of human development from leaders in this field, but you are also encouraged to become a strong educator yourself.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best thing about life in Vancouver is the fact that opportunities are endless. It could be blazing hot beach weather, but people are snowboarding only a few short hours away! You can do anything in this community, and people from all kinds of backgrounds welcome you with open arms.

I chose to study at UBC because of its incredible reputation for supporting diverse perspectives.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I love that I can continue to develop my research with support from the university, but I also look forward to the times when I can engage in deep conversation about other peoples research ideas. I find that many students in my graduate program are extremely passionate about their work and enjoy engaging in critical yet reflective conversations. This is the best part about grad school, the people you meet and the impact they have on your life!

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

My biggest challenge in my future career will be engaging with individuals who don't recognize the importance of comprehensive sexual education for young people. Adolescent pornography consumption remains a vastly understudied topic, likely due to societal taboos associated with pornography, and around sex-related topics more generally. These biases mean that fewer people are researching these important questions, but also that studies are less likely to get funded or supported.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

My program is preparing me for these challenges by providing me with the academic tools necessary for engaging with individuals from scientific, empirically supported perspective.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I had one of the most amazing mentors in my undergraduate degree. She was the most motivating and inspiring advisor I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Genuinely, I must express that I would not be the woman I am today without the support and guidance from her. She saw something in me when nobody else did. She saw drive and dedication when nobody else had taken the time to look. And this is what I believe to be the true essence of an irreplaceable mentor, and the reason why I have been so successful in my graduate program at UBC.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

My favourite things to do are working out and spending time with my family and kids!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Come to school with an open mind and open heart. UBC has a wonderful way of creating experiences that will help inspire you to become the person you have always wanted to but never knew possible. Also, don't forget to have fun!


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