Jemma Smith: alumni profile

Jemma Smith

On the back of her recent world champion win at the Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships, we chat with alumna Jemma Smith about her passion for sports, being world champion and how she juggles all her training along with teaching.

What has been your path since graduating from CCGS in 2017?
After finishing school at CCGS in 2017, I went straight to the University of Newcastle to study a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) specialising in PDHPE and Mathematics. I knew teaching was the career path I wanted to pursue after realising how much I enjoyed helping people and working with kids and seeing firsthand the difference a good teacher can make to one’s education and experience at school. I also really love sports and maths, so teaching those subjects is fun. 

I have also continued to chase my sporting aspirations, competing in and representing Australia in sprint kayaking, Surf Life Saving and ocean ski racing.  

What was the inspiration behind the latest achievement in ocean ski racing?
It was amazing to be able to contest the World Ocean Ski championships in Portugal recently after not being able to race the past two years due to COVID. I think a lot of the inspiration behind my win came from being on the sidelines of the world championships last year, as no Australian paddlers could go over to Europe to race because of the border restrictions. It made me really determined to ensure that when I contested the World Championships this year, I was in really good shape to be as competitive as I could be in the open women’s field. 

Jemma Smith training

What is the proudest moment from your post-school life?
The proudest moment from my post-school life would be topping my Secondary Education cohort at University whilst juggling my sports training and competition commitments. 

What trait has been most vital in helping you succeed?
I think determination has been the trait most vital in helping me succeed. Having the determination to push myself to my limits in training and keep striving towards achieving my goals has definitely helped me accomplish what I have with sports so far. 

Outside of training, what are you passionate about?
I also have a passion for cooking and the outdoors. I love trying new recipes and cooking for my friends and family. I also love helping coach nippers in Surf Life Saving. The sport has already given me so much, so I really enjoy being able to give back and help kids learn new skills, gain confidence within themselves and have fun with their friends. 

Where do you see the next 10 years taking you?
I see myself continuing to chase my sporting aspirations whilst gaining as much experience as I can as a newly graduated teacher. 

Jemma Smith

What CCGS experience or achievement most prepared you for where you are today?
I think all of the CCGS cocurricular activities that I participated in helped equip me with an abundance of different skills that I use every day. From gaining confidence speaking in front of people when participating in public speaking and debating, to learning how to work as part of a team when playing weekend sports. The different opportunities I tried to embrace when at CCGS were so beneficial in helping me develop into the person that I am today. 

What advice would you give to your high school self?
Always give everything your best effort and don’t be afraid to try new things.