Damien Leitner, former Life Skills Coach at CONNECT Lake Country, is dedicating the next six years of his life to study the brain.

Leitner is off this fall to pursue his PhD in Clinical Psych at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan.

Residents and Leitner’s colleagues gathered on Wednesday, August 14, at Lake Country to wish him well and celebrate his last day at CONNECT over cake, fruit and heart-felt “good luck” cards.

Leitner started at CONNECT in May of 2009 as a house staff and then transitioned to doing part-time cognitive therapy. He transitioned again when he and a former classmate, who also worked at CONNECT, decided to conduct some research and study CONNECT and its approach to brain injury rehab. Karen Tims, one of CONNECT’s leaders, eventually offered him a leadership role as Life Skills Coach, which he did while working at Kelowna General Hospital doing neuropsychological testing and working as a firefighter with Lake Country Fire Department.

Leitner says his time at CONNECT has absolutely steered his path into Clinical Psych.

“It has been amazing to share in the movement of CONNECT – both in what CONNECT has been doing on a big picture level in the world of brain injury, and on a more local level of seeing people reach their goals.”

He says he has always been fascinated by brain and behavior and looks forward to delving into the clinical side.

Leitner’s long-term goal is to stay in the Okanagan to practice clinical psych.