A natural curiosity about people and a passion for information are qualities that helped land a University of Wisconsin-Stout student a national award and the opportunity to showcase her research paper on a big stage.
Leah Stasieluk, a human development and family studies major, presented at the Coordinating Council of Honor Societies function at the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences annual conference June 26 in Dallas, Texas. Her study, “Work Related Travel and Intimate Partner Relationships,” was chosen as the recipient of the CCHS Undergraduate Research Paper Award.
“It is a huge honor,” Stasieluk said. “When I submitted my research to this conference, I did not think I would receive the award at all. I figured it would just be great practice to submit.”
Excitement and nerves were flowing for Stasieluk, who presented to about 40 people. “It was such an amazing experience, and I met so many incredible people. It was scary at first to give my presentation. I had five pages of notes printed out but ended up barely using them. After all, I did spend a full semester on this project,” she said.
The research paper, an independent project by Stasieluk, focuses on how intimate partner relationships are affected when one of the partners is required to travel overnight for work. It centers on how closeness, tension, fun, and affectionate and quality interactions are affected by that type of travel.
“I found that the transition period, when a person is returning from one trip and preparing for the next all in less than 24 hours, was when tension between couples as well as closeness was highest,” Stasieluk said.
“I have always been interested in people and understanding why they do the things they do. I am also very interested in relationships. My father traveled for work a ton when I was a child. I remember him coming and going for anywhere between a single night and a month at a time. This really caught my attention because I had personal experience that was relatable,” Stasieluk said.
Stasieluk credits her research mentor, Assistant Professor Andrea Swenson, and the university with her success on the paper.
“My major at UW-Stout taught me a lot about people and different ways to help,” Stasieluk said. “I have always liked writing, but UW-Stout gave me the opportunity to expand my confidence and improve my skills even more.”
The Edina, Minn., native began the summer as an intern at Bridger Orthopedics in Bozeman, Mont. After two weeks, she was hired full time and began her new position July 11. She provides hands-on assistance to occupational and physical therapists while also observing patients.
Stasieluk, who graduated in May, plans to pursue a doctorate degree in occupational therapy beginning in fall 2018.
She offers some advice to other UW-Stout students. “Seize every opportunity you can. You can always go back to where you were, but you may never get the chance again to try something new,” she said.
Stasieluk’s travel expenses to Dallas were funded in part by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UW-Stout.
She was a member of UW-Stout’s Tau chapter of Phi Upsilon Omicron, the honor society for family and consumer sciences.
Also attending the conference was Professor Emeritus Carolyn Barnhart, the UW-Stout Tau chapter adviser and past president of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Top: Leah Stasieluk presents her research at a national conference in June in Dallas, Texas.
Second: Leah Stasieluk, right, holds her CCHS Undergraduate Research Paper Award with Melissa Martin, executive director of the Phi Upsilon Omicron National Honor Society.
Bottom: Leah Stasieluk does some sightseeing in Montana, where she interned earlier this summer and began a full-time job July 11.