Casey Sharpe is going to Oxford.
The Heritage Park Secondary grad has already earned her bachelor of science and psychology from he University of Victoria, but the academic will now pursue her master’s degree.
In October, Sharpe will begin studies at England’s prestigious University of Oxford to obtain a master of science in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation.
“Basically it’s using research to provide evidence for social policy,” explained Sharpe.
“It’s pretty much everything I ever wanted in a program. So it really kind of made me focus in on what I wanted to do.”
Knowing she would have to impress in order to be accepted at Oxford, Sharpe started working with the centre of addictions research, specifically on alcohol policy – like the introduction of happy hours – spending the past two years trying to “amp up” her resume and experience in the field.
She applied to Oxford late last year and was accepted.
Higher learning seems to run in Sharpe’s family. Her uncle on her mom’s side went to Oxford and was a Rhodes scholar. He graduated in 1957.
Sharpe said she has always been academically focused.
“I really enjoyed school. I really enjoyed learning. I would get up at 5 a.m. to finish a project that was worth two per cent when I was eight years old. It had to be just right. I got joy out of the time I put in.”
Born and raised in Mission, Sharpe credits her past teachers for the influence they had on her.
“Almost every one of the teachers I had, from elementary school to high school, were incredibly supportive especially with student growth.”
She was part of the student leadership program when she attended Heritage Park Secondary.
“If you showed an interest at all in wanting to do anything and let them (teachers) know, they were so accommodating and they tried to do their absolute best to get you out there and get you interested and show you some good material. Honestly, the teachers have been really, really great here,” said Sharpe.
While her plan to go to Oxford is set, what happens next is still a bit of a mystery.
Sharpe said she may decide to stay longer because Oxford is considering creating a centre on alcohol research in the near future.
“I may stay for a PhD,” she said.
Sharpe is interested in studying how alcohol is used in a community.
“It’s a legal drug, but it is a drug and it has a lot of impact.”
A few years ago, B.C. revamped its liquor laws and one change was the introduction of happy hour, a certain time when drinks are offered at a lower price.
“It used to be illegal to change prices in a day.”
As part of her studies, Sharpe examined bars and pubs in downtown Victoria, asking if they participated in happy hour, what their process was and if there were any significant differences from other drink specials.
“There’s been a lot of research out there showing a correlation between negative public health outcomes and lower liquor prices,” she said.
While it was a basic study, she examined if there could be any health impacts – negative or positive – associated with the creation of happy hour.
“It’s interesting to see the political side, health impact side and seeing how people respond to it. Its a really complicated drug to study.
“Overall, it’s pretty dangerous, parallel with tobacco and other drugs, but its so accepted in communities because we’ve had it with us for thousands of years.”