Last year, she was named valedictorian at Mount Royal University, and now a Calgarian has won top prize at an Oxford University competition.
“I’m definitely surprised, it’s an incredible bestowment,” Roisin Dillon said from London, where she’s currently a nurse and Masters student at King’s College. “I’m so grateful to have come out the way that I have.”
The competition is known as the ‘Map the System Challenge,’ an initiative from Oxford’s Business School.
Dillon’s presentation on the opioid crisis came first out of 470 entries from 27 different schools.
A student from the University of Melbourne came second, while another student from a Canadian school, Simon Fraser University, came in third.
The opioid crisis is one western Canada knows well, especially in British and Alberta and Dillon had a friend to died of a fentanyl overdose.
“We’re oversimplifying the problem and we have a lot of misconceptions and assumptions about who might be experiencing any kind of struggle with opiate addiction,” she said.
“It’s not always addiction, it’s sometimes experimentation or people trying to have fun, the problem really is a lot more complex than just somebody who might be homeless and struggling with drugs, which is usually the assumption.”
Dillon argues public health solutions have to consider issues like over-prescription and the practice of eradicating pain at all costs, as opposed to managing it.
“Roisin’s grasp of the issue from a research standpoint, a clinical nursing practitioner viewpoint and a personal perspective, having lost a friend to a fentanyl overdose, meant she combined analytical rigour, real world experience and passion,” James Stauch, MRU Director of the Institute for Community Prosperity said in a statement.
Along with her nursing and current studies at King’s, Dillon is looking to complete a PhD and eventually work for international organizations to develop strategies to combat global health issues.
But she said she won’t forget where she came from.
“I can’t even put words to how valuable MRU is,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without that education.”