Kiwi priest completes U.S. degree by studying online


This is a summary of an article that was originally published in the NZ Catholic.

The 2017 Commencement Exercises at Divine Mercy University was a historic occasion for Kiwi priest Fr. Vaughan Leslie. He was the first New Zealander to earn a degree from the university – with a Master of Science in Psychology.

Fr. Leslie tips his hat to the cost effectiveness of the program and the ability to learn 100% online while maintaining full-time pastoral work in his parish.

“My friends and family would tell you, over the two years of study, I was constantly reading, writing discussion posts, assignments and a thesis,” he said, according to the NZ Catholic. “When I look back, it was so much work, but all necessary and most enjoyable, as is anything that is worthwhile.”

His attendance at the ceremony in Washington, D.C., also allowed him to receive a student leadership award that he was nominated for by staff, faculty and student peers.

The main reason Fr. Leslie decided to pursue a master’s in psychology was because it would make an impact on the people he worked with.

“I had been a prison chaplain for five years, working with serious violent and sexual offenders and many men suffering mental illness. In light of this, I very much felt the need to learn more about human behavior and how positive change can occur for all people in their personal struggles,” he said in his interview with NZ Catholic.

He now uses the skills and knowledge gained in the M.S. in Psychology program on a daily basis.

Read his full feature story in the NZ Catholic.