Emilea has not only proved her academic abilities but her athletic prowess and mental toughness as well.
In 2018 and 2022 she competed in the Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women.
“I was about halfway through my degree and I was injured, I had just undergone my sixth surgery on my foot, so life was quite challenging,” she says.
“I was referred to the Invictus Pathways Program which got me on the path to cycling and adaptive sports and really changed my mindset … the military had said that I was broken but there were still things I could do. It gave me a goal.”
Competing in cycling, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, rowing and powerlifting Emilea had also participated in the Warrior Games, a similar event held in the US for injured or ill service personnel and veterans.
In total she has scored three gold, five silver and two bronze medals.
“Just being around other veterans was really good, especially initially because I had really cut that part of my life out and isolated myself from the veteran community and people in general,” Emilea says.
“It gave me a pathway to reintegrate into not only the community, but the veteran community. Now I'm a big advocate for veterans and getting them active again, or at least integrating with others.
“It just gave me that platform to not put myself in a box and know that I can still achieve things. I can still do things even though it might not be the direct path that I had originally hoped for.”
Emilea’s strength and determination was also reflected in her studies. Her tenacity caught the attention of award-winning researcher and Flinders senior lecturer in sport, health and physical activity Associate Professor Sam Elliott who convinced her to apply for Honours after finishing the undergraduate degree.
Harbouring a love for research and a drive to make change in the behaviour of parents at youth sporting matches, Emilea completed Honours and went on to apply for a PhD, later gaining a PhD Enterprise Scholarship with the Sammy D Foundation.