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Some people might wonder why Clayton Lessor* bothered to get a PhD.

A licensed professional counselor in St. Louis, Missouri, he already had a successful career in private practice, as well as numerous speaking and consulting gigs.

“I wanted to get a PhD because it opens doors,” Lessor explains. “In my field, master’s degrees are a dime a dozen. So a PhD can help set you apart.”

*Actual Capella graduate who agreed to appear in promotional materials for Capella.

 

Helping Boys Navigate a Path to Adulthood

As a counselor, Lessor works with all sorts of people, but he specializes in helping troubled boys. Many young men are currently in crisis, falling behind their female counterparts in school and life, he says. They need adventure, a sense of mission, and healthy male role models. They need help resisting violence, gang involvement, drug and alcohol abuse, and unprotected sex. Lessor, who grew up with an alcoholic father, has developed programs to help boys as they become the men they are meant to be.

 

Deepening Expertise with a PhD

Lessor began his PhD studies at another institution, but found himself frustrated with the process. Research into alternative options led him to Capella, and ultimately connected him with Leone Snyder, a Capella faculty member who encouraged him to take his expertise to the next level by finishing a PhD.

“It was definitely challenging, sometimes doing three classes at a time,” Lessor says. “There were nights when my wife and I would have dinner and walk the dogs and then I’d have to go back to work on course assignments. But everything about my experience at Capella was positive.”

This past fall, Lessor completed his dissertation, earning a professional studies in education doctoral degree from Capella University. The accomplishment adds to a resume that also includes two books: Saving Our Sons: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Boys for Success, published in 2016, and a second yet-to-be-released book that’s aimed specifically at fathers. Additionally, Lessor is the creator of a 10-week “boys to men program” for boys and their families.

Lessor says his PhD work provided him an arsenal of research that he could draw on to support his claims. “I’m able to use research data more effectively,” he says. “I can pull out citations from peer-reviewed journals to give me leverage.”

Additional benefits of getting a PhD are more prestige and respect in his field, Lessor says. “The best thing I ever did was go to Capella. It was the experience of a lifetime and extremely growth provoking.”

 

Learn more about Capella’s online PhD in Education program.