Brianne Jenner feels more balanced when she is busy – and it has been a
demanding two years for the Oakville, Ont., native.
Jenner received her master’s degree in public policy from the University of
Calgary in November, just a few weeks before she was named to Canada’s
Women’s Olympic Team for the PyeongChang Games.
“I started doing my master’s two years ago,” Jenner says. “I decided to do
it two years part-time so that I could balance my training, my time with
the Calgary Inferno and my national team commitments. I got a lot of my
work and thesis done before this year got really busy.”
Jenner also has a bachelor of arts and science, with a major in government
and a minor in law and society, from Cornell University, where she played
her college hockey.
“Getting the master’s in public policy was building off what I did in
undergrad. I enjoyed studying that topic so much that I had the opportunity
to go to the University of Calgary and I am thankful I have that degree
now,” she says.
So what exactly is public policy?
“Public policy, in a nutshell, is studying government decisions and how
they can be improved,” Jenner explains. “I focused on international
relations and Canadian foreign policy.”
Education was an important piece for Jenner, on and off the ice. With few
avenues for women in North America to play hockey professionally, college
hockey is an important step in achieving high-level goals.
“In women’s hockey, the destination is to play college hockey and then get
yourself in the national program. It was always instilled in me in Grade 9
to 12 to work towards getting into a school in the NCAA and having good
grades would allow me to do that,” the 2014 Olympic gold medallist says.
“It gave me options for schools and I certainly don’t think I would have
had that college experience that I did without working hard at my
Her parents, Dave and Brenda, also instilled a need for learning from an
early age, creating an environment that helped Jenner succeed in school.
“I was really lucky that my parents were educators. It was always something
that was important to our family,” she says. “My mom was an early literacy
specialist, so I was reading books from a young age. I don’t know if I can
get the credit for my academic success … it is the teachers I had and what
my parents exposed to me at home.”
For Jenner, hockey is her passion, and it has showed on the ice. She has
racked up more than 120 games across all three levels of the Team Canada
program, captained Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team, and has a world
title to go alongside her Olympic gold.
But being able to study a topic that interested her kept her balanced and
more focused on her goals.
“My parents always instilled in me that it is important to have other
passions outside of hockey. If you think about what is going on at the rink
24-7, you will drive yourself nuts,” Jenner says. “I think it is really
important to be balanced in your life. I think having both things in my
life – having the master’s while also training full-time was a good balance
Jenner juggled the workload and timing of the master’s degree while also
playing with and captaining the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s
Hockey League (CWHL) for the last two seasons. With her leading the way,
the Inferno captured the Clarkson Cup in 2016, and reached the championship
game last spring.
She couldn’t do it alone, though. Her professors, her coaches, teammates,
and family were highly supportive of her during the process.
“My fiancée, Hayleigh Cudmore, has been my rock. She helped me through
balancing it all and she is an excellent student herself and working
towards being a lawyer. She was a great editor for a lot of my papers,”
Jenner says. “That passion for academics, I owe that to my parents. My
coaches allowed me to miss some practices and that is a thing about playing
in the CWHL, we have to balance with our other lives. I was lucky that my
coaches with the Inferno were supportive of that.”
Jenner is realistic. She understands that at some point, she will leave the
game she loves. When that day comes, having an education is a solid plan
for life after hockey.
“Being able to work towards something that can go on my résumé that can
make me more employable after my hockey career, was something that was
important to me,” she says. “I also wanted to ensure that it wasn’t taking
away from my passion, which is playing for the hockey team and going to the
Olympics. It was a great fit for me and hopefully, it is something that
makes me more employable in the future.”
Through this process, Jenner learned a lot about herself on and off the
“I learned that I do better when I am busy and when I am working towards my
goals, she says. “Just having that other passion has really helped keep me
balanced and gives me perspective and makes you feel refreshed and excited
to go to the rink.”