Congratulations to our graduate students crossing the stage this week

Photo: Paul Joseph / UBC Brand & Marketing

Tuum Est. It is yours.

Join us in congratulating our graduate students crossing the stage at UBC’s spring 2024 graduation ceremony. We celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates and wish them the very best in their future endeavours.

Gordon at his final dissertation exam

One of our graduates, Gordon Heltzel, PhD’24, studies social personality psychology with a focus on morality, emotions, politics, and the self. His research explores disgust and moral judgments, self-conscious emotions like pride, guilt, and shame, political polarization, and reactions to political allies who seek to understand opponents.

View his thesis Actual and anticipated reactions to engaging with and dismissing political opponents : who and where they come from, and why they matter.

In a Q&A, Gordon shares why he chose to study psychology at UBC, what inspired his research, and his advice for others considering graduate school.

Why did you choose to study at UBC Psychology?

When I applied to grad school in 2016, the socio-political climate in the USA (my home country) was weird to say the least. This sparked my interest in understanding the psychological roots of growing divides related to politics, morality, and religion. UBC psychology has so many professors who are leading scholars in these topics, so it was my top choice for grad school! Also UBC being in Canada, and a particularly beautiful area of Canada, didn’t hurt!

What drove you to study your line of research?

Aside from the sociopolitical climate when I was applying to grad school, I grew up in Indiana where my political views weren’t shared by many people around me, including some of my loved ones (family and friends). To get by socially, I had to at least try to understand where people were coming from. Fast-foward to grad school, where much of my research examined people’s open-mindedness to hearing other political views.

Is there a single moment or highlight or person in your academic journey that stands out?

Grad school always has its ups and downs but I really enjoyed it on the whole and feel like there were many moments worth celebrating. But if I had to give one, I’d probably go with meeting my fiancé. That part was pretty cool. Would recommend.

What advice do you have for others considering graduate school?

If you’re considering graduate school, get as much firsthand research experience as you can get—grad school is long and can be tough at times, so it’s important to know firsthand what you’re getting into. Once you’re sure you want to do grad school, find an advisor who is first and foremost kind (to figure this out, ask folks you know who know them, and ask their students), as this is harder to find than brilliance.

Lucy DeSouza (PhD), Shayden Schofield-Lewis (MA), Tianxin Wang (MA), and Jennifer Yip (PhD) are also graduating this spring.

The entire psychology community is proud of our graduating MA and PhD students. We wish you all the best!