Already a change-maker: HMNS graduating valedictorian tells her story

Emy Huntsman may be graduating from The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences this week, but the valedictorian is already proving herself to be a change-maker off-campus.

Ms Huntsman is among 4706 students graduating from UQ in July 2015, with more than 3000 expected to attend graduation  ceremonies from July 20 to 25.

Ms Huntsman who graduates with a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education, strives to engage with students at a deeper level, integrating themes of relationships, social justice and equity onto the sports field and in the classroom.

"I am buoyed by the fact that health and overcoming the burden of disease is seen as integral to our country's financial success and, as such, while HPE teachers are not solely responsible for an individual's health, we are a key source of health literacy," Emy said.

When asked how she felt about graduating from her degree, Ms Huntsman said she was both excited and nostalgic.

"I loved my time at uni, and really thrived in the environment. I will miss my friends and lecturers but am so looking forward to putting my knowledge into practice at school," she said.

Ms Huntsman has already landed a job working at St Peters Lutheran College in Indooroopilly as a HPE teacher.

Hear Emy Huntsman's story on Vimeo:


What qualification are you graduating with?

Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education from the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences

Why this field of study?

I wanted to continue to work in sport and science and with young people but in a more applied way than research.

Did you have other challenges to overcome?

I moved to Brisbane from Melbourne to study at UQ and did five subjects and undertook summer school to finish my degree as quickly as possible.

I broke my dominant arm in my second semester (whilst taking five subjects) so doing exams with my left hand was rather challenging!


I was born and raised in Melbourne and moved to Brisbane to study at UQ.

Why UQ?

Ever since I became interested in exercise and sport science over a decade ago, I knew that The University of Queensland had the most prestigious and respected program in the country. Securing a full-time health and physical education teaching position in Victoria is difficult so I wanted to give myself the best chance I could and  UQ was the best option. I also liked that the degree up here had a strong focus on sociocultural aspects of sport.

Extracurricular activities

My main activity revolves around rowing. I began coaching for Somerville House as soon as I moved here and also got back into competitive rowing again myself last year.

Volunteer work

I have recently become a member of the Australian Council of Health and Physical Education and Recreation Management Committee to promote healthy lifestyles and advocate health and physical education and recreation professions.

What do you think makes a great university teacher/lecturer?

Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education lecturers Sue Monsen, Louise McCuaig, Gary Osmond and Murray Phillips have been my standout lecturers while at UQ. They are passionate and knowledgeable about their subject areas and encourage students to actively engage with the course content to share their enthusiasm. Murray, for example, used to begin his sociology of sports classes with a discussion of current sporting phenomena in the media and we'd interpret it through the sociocultural lens we were studying. All were fair and genuine and encouraged my inquisitiveness and were always more than willing to help and engage in my endless questions and curiosities.

Most memorable or inspiring moment at UQ

Teaching at Yeronga State High School as a pre-service teacher. This small school is attended by a diverse range of students including from refugee backgrounds and represent more than 56 countries and countless languages in addition to English. The students taught me so much about the value of education and the power of sport as a social mediator. Some of my students had experienced significant difficulties in their lives - so much more than I ever had - and yet they would turn up to class, eager to learn and play sport -  it was an incredibly humbling experience. My proudest moment was marching with the school at the recent Luminous Parade to welcome new Australians and refugees to Queensland. The students (and the other teachers and I) sang the song over and over again as we marched with our banner and placards around the Southbank forecourt in front of thousands of supporters.

. . . and the most surprising

When I signed up for teaching, I was most looking forward to the science-oriented classes because that was what I had experience in and knew I enjoyed, however as my degree progressed, I came to enjoy the classes on pedagogy and sociology most. While I still enjoyed  the science classes such as biomechanics and motor control and learning, the pedagogical and sociology classes forced me to think and analyse at a much deeper level, which I hadn't experienced before so I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge.

Career plans

I would like to pursue a career in education with a particular focus in HPE (health and physical education) and science. I haven't decided yet whether I would like to stay in schools long term and move into leadership positions or perhaps one day move back into research or perhaps curriculum development. Experience with time will tell.

This has changed substantially since I left school - which was over a decade ago now. I originally thought I wanted to be a sport scientist - firstly working with elite athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport, and then that I wanted to do sport science research as a PhD student. However, after a year of post-graduate study, I realised that those areas weren't  for me so then I transitioned into teaching. I didn't plan to be a teacher, it just evolved and now it makes sense. It's not easy but there is nothing more satisfying than helping a student achieve something they didn't think they could and seeing their face light up.

What drives your interest?

Health, fitness and social justice. I am passionate about these topics and strive to engage in these topics with my students.. In line with the new Australian Curriculum and the senior Health and Physical Education courses, HPE integrates themes of relationships, social justice and equity in addition to sport and is something in the field that I would most like to help address.

How do you feel entering a rapidly-evolving workforce - where some jobs no longer exist and other jobs are yet to be created?

This is something we have studied in class and something that I am very passionate about. It is something that deeply concerns me, especially with the increase in outsourcing of HPE teaching that is starting to occur, particularly in the US and overseas, but is increasing in Australia too with the privatisation of education I am buoyed by the fact that health and overcoming the burden of disease is seen as integral to our country's financial success and as such, while HPE teachers are not responsible for an individual's health, we are a key source of health literacy (how to be physically/mentally/socially healthy/active or physically educated and how to find and critique health-related information). For this reason, I feel excited to enter this new and challenging environment.

What next?

I start my first teaching job at St Peter's Lutheran College. I will enjoy every moment of a very well-earned break until then.