Emma Cook is a Year 11 student at Northern Beaches Secondary College (Manly Selective Campus) who is one of 30 incredible Art of Smart Future Leaders from across NSW for 2018.

Our Future Leaders Program is NSW’s premier Career & Leadership program that invests in and supports young leaders in Years 10-12 at high school. The program provides mentoring, rigorous peer learning, skills development, work experience and national connections so young people can effectively answer the big question of “What am I going to do with my life when I finish school?” and develop the key skills they need to make an impact in their communities.

emma cook

We recently spoke with Emma about her goals for the future, how she’s pursuing these goals during Year 11 and much more!

When you finish school, what do you want to do?

Once I finish my HSC I’d love to fulfil my dreams of travelling the world with only a backpack (Europe, Asia, maybe America) in a gap year with my best friend.

I’d then like to attend Sydney Uni and do a Bachelor of Mechatronic Engineering with a Space Major, hopefully having moved out of home and on a scholarship that allows me to be ‘partially’ stress free.

I’d love to complete my degree and be accepted to study my Masters/PhD at MIT in America.s

emma cook

What is your long-term ‘dream big’ goal?

To be an astronaut for pretty much any company at this point but hopefully NASA and help them plan and complete a manned mission to Mars. But the Moon seems cool too.

What has inspired you to pursue this goal?

I think it was a build up of me discovering my passions for engineering and space “conceptually” and how being an astronaut could combine this with my intense adventurousness and love for learning.

What subjects are you currently taking for your HSC?

English Advanced, Philosophy, Chemistry, Engineering, Math Advanced, Math Ext 1, Physics.

So far my favourite is Physics because it just seemed to click in my brain this year and I find classes engaging and challenging yet still feel comfortable.

Although, I have to admit I love philosophy too for its uniqueness except it’s a morning class and I’m always only half awake!

What is the biggest challenge you’re experiencing at school at the moment?

Trying to balance work, socialising, school hours and study while still getting a good nights sleep and not tiring myself out!

What is the #1 study tip you’d recommend to other students to implement?

Highlight the questions you get wrong in class and make those your study questions/revision as they will be the ones you most likely make silly mistakes on under pressure.

Mum also let me graffiti the ceiling above my bed with a tonne of equations I need to memorise and I read them over before I fall asleep. Also colour coding makes everything so much more fun to read, so invest in some gel pens!

emma cook

What extracurricular activities are you currently involved in?

Volunteer for Manly SES, Zen Chi Ryu Martial Arts, I’m also a part of Ivanhoe Park Venturers (where I am a leader and event coordinator).

I am also doing my Gold Duke of Ed, as well as working at an epic cafe in Manly called Momo Bar (100% recommend if you guys are in the area).

And when that’s not enough and I get bored I fly off to Houston and participate in NASA Space programs!

What is the extracurricular activity or project you’ve engaged with that you are the most proud of?

Last year I completed my Amateur Radio Licence in the hopes of setting up a connection with the HAM Radio on the ISS so that students at my school can talk with astronauts currently in space.

It’s currently a work in progress due to mountains of paperwork and a massive waiting line, but I’ll keep you updated!

Where do you work and what has your biggest learning from working been?

I currently work at (and love my job at) Momo Bar. 

My biggest learning has been how to handle the stress of having a queue of 30 people for 5 hours straight (always in summer a bit less in winter) do multiple things at once with extreme accuracy to detail.

I’ve also learnt how to dodge and pay attention to other workers needs and be prepared to react to anything that goes wrong and fix it ASAP. Also learnt how to count to 10 in Nepalese and Portugese! 

emma cook

What is your favourite hobby?

Oh dear, this is hard. Well I have to admit I’m a Netflix addict and my favourite show at the moment is Suits (it has Megan Markle in it!) I also enjoy difficult jigsaw puzzles and a bit of art and reading.

What is a quote that inspires you?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“If people aren’t laughing at your dreams then they aren’t big enough” – Robin Sharma (my mum). 

What does it mean to you to be a future leader?

I’m a lover of clichès so here goes:

Personally, I find being a future leader means accepting who you are as a person and what you need to do to achieve what you want by taking the right actions for yourself and the future.

It also means being committed and passionate about what you do/want and giving some of your inspiration to others along the way and using your successes to help others to achieve their goals too.


About Art of Smart and the Future Leaders Program

Art of Smart is a multi-award winning provider of world-class HSC tutoring and inspirational mentoring. Recognising that excelling at school takes more than a focus on the syllabus, over the last 8 years, we have built a reputation for our holistic approach to helping students develop both strong academic foundations and critical study, exam and life skills.

Based on 8+ years of research we’ve conducted with Australia’s top students, we’ve helped over 4,000 students on average achieve mark improvements of 19.41% and help students successfully transition from school to rewarding and challenging studies & careers.