Katie Sharp

Katie Sharp was looking for a pathway to help people when she discovered the Bachelor of Health at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Katie Sharp (left) with Dr Ally Gibson
Katie Sharp (left) with Dr Ally Gibson

“When I came across the Bachelor of Health, it seemed like an opportunity that would open doors and broaden my thinking. There was so much range in what I could study within the degree, and it was all people-focused.”

Hailing from Darfield, a small rural town in Canterbury, Katie was the first in her family to attend university. Not willing to silo herself into a profession straight out of high school, she was looking for a degree that would provide wide-ranging opportunities.

She decided on a Bachelor of Health with a major in Health Psychology, picking up a second major in Health Promotion in her second year.

“The Bachelor of Health was able to provide me with a snapshot of how diverse Aotearoa is, what equity could look like across a number of populations, and ways to start communicating and advocating for change as an ally.

My degree taught me a new way to look at the world, in a way that was much more critical, yet compassionate.”

Katie was awarded a Summer Research Scholarship in her second year, where she worked alongside Dr Ally Gibson on a project about mobile dating during the pandemic. She had the opportunity to attend the International Society of Critical Health Psychology Conference which, despite being moved online last minute, was one of the highlights of her studies.

“The next best part had to be the people! There is so much passion in the Faculty of Health and everyone just wants to see you succeed.

The biggest opportunities were the connections made, both inside and outside the classroom. I was actively involved as a volunteer and then student leader in Manawa Ora - Student Wellbeing, as I co-ran the fruit and veggie co-op. I was also a research assistant in the Faculty of Health.”

Katie completed her degree in 2021 and was soon offered employment as an Emergency Management Advisor in the Community Resilience and Recovery team at the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office. The focus of her role is building resilient communities.

“The Wellington region is prone to a number of hazards/emergencies, and part of our job is to try and help our communities get more prepared. I help create and deliver content around preparedness, spend time engaging with and empowering community spaces, and supporting the emergency response when necessary.”

Her degree taught her valuable public speaking and presenting skills, as well as knowledge of the ‘big topics’ such as cultural safety, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and what equitable access to information and services could look like.

“Other more practical knowledge-based skills that have made a difference in my role include critical thinking around data, behaviour change theory, and creating or evaluating community initiatives.”

Katie describes the student experience as a rollercoaster.

“It was eye-opening, insanely busy and a whole lot of fun!

Between learning how to live on my own in a new city, make new friends, juggle family stuff, and then the icing on the cake was the pandemic.”

She knows she made the right choice to study in Wellington.

“As soon as I came up to Wellington for the Open Day, I knew Wellington was going to be the place for me. The sample lectures for the Faculty of Health were full of passionate lecturers, the campus was beautiful (despite the rain!) and I could see there was so much potential in the big city.”

Katie would not hesitate to recommend the Bachelor of Health to prospective students. Her advice is to get to know your classmates, lecturers, and tutors.

“They all want you to succeed and will be more than willing to help you do so.”