Meet Lesley Bikos, PhD candidate

Lesley's first study, I Took the Blue Pill, has attracted media attention, including London Free Press (August 30, 2016), National Post (August 30, 2016), Toronto Star (September 1, 2016), CBC (September 1, 2016), London Free Press (September 1, 2016), CBC Ontario Morning (August 2016 podcast), Roy Green Show (September 2016 podcast, go to 2:49), and Western News (October 6, 2016). Please visit Lesley's website for further details.

Supervisor: Tracey Adams

Area of research:  Policing, gender, and work – currently entering phase two of my qualitative research with Canadian police officers.

What influenced your research path?

During my former career as a policewoman, I observed barriers for women within the profession and areas that I felt needed public attention to better their lives. After resigning from the police force, I decided to go back to school to gain credentials that would allow me to advocate on their behalf. The results from my first study, I Took the Blue Pill, informed my decision to widen my research scope to include policemen as well.

Why did you choose Western for your studies?

I was born and raised in London, Ontario. My roots are here. Western was the natural choice.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone considering applying to your graduate program?

Passion is a must! Be open minded about who you work with and what you wish to study. It is so important to have a supportive supervisor who can guide you, while understanding your passion. Do not shy away from studying something controversial or close to your heart. In my opinion, the best research comes from a place of passion. I believe as researchers we have a responsibility to try and leave the world a little better than we found it. That does not have to mean large systemic changes. Do not discount the smaller, positive impacts you can have on your participants’ lives with solid, credible research.

Where’s your favourite place on campus to work/study/research? Why?

I admit that my favorite place to work is not on campus. I am a bit of a lone wolf that way. I like my home office surrounded by the things that inspire me and push me forward on the days that I feel overwhelmed or blocked. Having said that, it is wonderful to emerge out of that cave once and awhile and connect with the great people in my program. I love the seminar style of graduate courses that open discussion and debate. I am always up for a good debate!

What is it about your grad program that enables you to thrive and be successful?

I have a wonderful supervisor. I have met and engaged with some incredible professors and fellow students that inspire me, ignite me, and open my eyes to the other side of the arguments. I believe that is so important for true learning and growth. For me, graduate school has always been about more than marks and academic success. While those are important factors, what really drives me is personal success on a much deeper level.

What is your "dream" career?

Ruler of the world. I would do a good job, albeit perhaps a bit too authoritarian. Okay, in all seriousness, my dream is to be an activist for causes close to my heart. In a perfect world I would have time to research, write, teach, and tear down the patriarchy!

What idea, suggestion, or comment would you like to share with the Western graduate community?

Welcome to graduate school. It is up to you what you make of it. The tools are all there for your success. It will be hard, it will be frustrating at times. It is also a chance for immense success, both personally and professionally. Take one day at a time, and do not be surprised when you think about quitting frequently! Step away from the computer. Go for a walk, talk to fellow academics, and take care of yourself both body and mind. Find your passion, it will get you through. Surround yourself with people who remind you why you are working so hard and that one day, you too, will make a difference in the world. Believe in yourself as much as you believe in others and give yourself the kind of respect and consideration you give to others. It is not a fluke you are in the program, you were chosen because you have something to offer. It may be different than the person beside you, but it is no less valuable. You got this!

Have you worked as a TA or RA? If so, how did this benefit your academic career?

I love being a TA. I love the interaction with students and I love watching them grow over the year. Watching the light bulb come on as they discuss issues from other perspectives makes it all worth it. Agreement is not the goal, communication of ideas is, and it is such a satisfying feeling to know you have been a small part of their growth. On the other side, I learn from the students I interact with as well. It really is a mutual experience of growth.