Serving for eight years in the Australian Navy as a medic, Emilea Mysko (BEd(MidSecSch),BHlthSc ’20, BSportHlthPhysAct(Hons) ’21) had seen her fair share of patients suffering from illness or injury. She found that many were preventable, had they chosen better health behaviours and life choices.
Upon leaving the Navy with a medical discharge, she explored a range of study options that would take her in a new career direction.
“I wanted to promote health and positive health behaviours, especially among middle school students, because I thought that was a pivotal age where I could really make a lasting impact,” Emilea explains.
She enrolled in a double degree at Flinders, the Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Health Science. As a mature age student, Emilea was also a single mum and transitioning back into civilian life while managing service-related medical conditions, and welcomed the nurturing learning environment.
“My University experience was truly life-changing,” she recalls, grateful for the support that shaped her journey and gave her the confidence to pursue adaptive sports.
Balancing motherhood, study, and athletic pursuits as an elite athlete, Emilea found Flinders to be a place of flexibility and empowerment. “Flinders provided me with the environment and support to achieve, and to pursue my passions,” she says.
Studying in the Elite Athlete Program at Flinders gave her the opportunity to compete in rowing and cycling at the 2018 Warrior Games in the United States, and in the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney. She also stepped in to play for teams in seated volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
On completion of her undergraduate degree in 2019, Emilea was offered the chance to study an Honours degree.
“I wanted to get into policy development around sport and promoting inclusivity and accessibility so I was excited to be offered that opportunity,” she says.
In 2021 she had completed her Bachelor of Sport, Health and Physical Activity (now known as a Bachelor of Sport and Active Recreation), receiving First Class Honours.
While studying her Honours, Emilea put her education to good use in the community as a Health and P.E relief teacher and as a junior coordinator for her local netball club. “I was mentoring coaches and empowering young athletes, not just in netball skills but also life skills. I absolutely loved it,” she says.
Emilea is now in the early stages of completing a PhD. “My PhD is about parents’ behaviour in youth sport, more specifically I’ll be evaluating and redeveloping a sport parent education model,” she says.
“It is an industry sponsored PhD, so I am currently undertaking an internship of 60 days with the Sammy D Foundation. I do a bit of everything for them. I’m evaluating and redesigning one of their programs, guiding them on best teaching practice, and helping them improve violence prevention education and communication strategies. I’ve also helped them with redeveloping their evaluation strategies.”
Emilea was brought up in a military environment and thought that she’d be following her family down the same path but soon came to embrace that things can change. Explaining some of the difficulties she has faced along the way, Emilea credits her mum as her biggest inspiration.
“Throughout my life, my mum has role-modelled a strong work ethic, plus shown resilience and courage. This has given me the inspiration to strive for what I want and believe in, despite the challenges,” she says.
This drive was further developed through the high calibre of teaching staff and student support services at Flinders.
“To be here studying for a PhD is exceeding what I had ever thought I could achieve. I really struggled at school as a kid, it wasn’t easy for me. To be doing this is just amazing,” she says.
“What does being a Flinders graduate mean to me? I think it means that I’ve been trained by some of the best in Australia. You know, we’ve got the likes of Associate Professor Sam Elliott, Associate Professor Shane Pill, and Joss Rankin.
“They’re some of the best people in this field and now, I’ve worked alongside them. That gives me a lot of confidence in my training, and I think it gives me a lot of credit in my professional life.”
To those considering studying sports or education at Flinders, Emilea has a heartfelt message, “Do it! Flinders University provides the flexibility and support for everyone to achieve their goals.”