National Teams
National Careers Week | Georgia Johnson

National Careers Week | Georgia Johnson

When Georgia Johnson was in year 12 and wondering what the future would look like she had two choices: move to Adelaide to join the national program, or head to the United States and become a student athlete.

History shows Johnson made the move to Georgia State University where she went on to enjoy a successful college playing career, from which she also headed home with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science and International Affairs.

“It was cool being a real student-athlete where they want you to put 50 percent of your time into both things,” she said. “You were really encouraged to pursue the academic side as much as you were encouraged to pursue the sports side.”

When she returned home, her playing career continued to take off but the urge to study never disappeared. Almost immediately she enrolled at the University of Queensland, and at the end of this year will complete another degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering.

Johnson is thankful the university has been incredibly accommodating of her extensive training and playing load which includes a lot of time out of the country.

Last year UQ recognised Johnson’s feats when she was presented with a University Blue by three-time Olympic gold medallist Liesel Jones alongside other high-achieving UQ student athletes including Olympic swimmer Chelsea Gubecka and Australian Rugby Sevens player Isabella Nasser.

“I’ve been able to continue studying while I’ve been training full time over the past four years which has been really, really good,” said Johnson. “I find that when I’m in volleyball 100 percent it doesn’t lead to better volleyball performances.

“It’s actually when I’ve got a bit more balance and there’s more things I can focus my brain on, it actually frees me up a lot on the court.”

Not only is she combining study and sport, Johnson is also taking on a flexible work arrangement in the field in which she is studying, which she hopes will flow nicely into a professional career working abroad some time in the future.

“At the moment I’m lucky enough to be doing an internship with Somerset International who work with a bit of chemical engineering, but more on the environmental side too which I’m really interested in,” said Johnson. “They do mineral recovery of mining tailings which is a huge industry in Australia and all over the world.

“I’m very invested in the work they do – I find it fascinating.”

While Johnson has no plans to wind up playing any time soon, she believes the extent of her studying has had a beneficial effect of keeping her playing the sport she loves at the highest level.

“I think it increases the sustainability of being in the sport,” she said. “If you’ve got something that’s really challenging you while also filling your cup outside of the sport, then I think it gives us the ability to stay in the sport a lot longer.

“It can be very stressful; we’re always maintaining our full-time training load so the extra time spent studying on top of that is a big commitment. I understand it wouldn’t necessarily be for everyone, but I think it’s important.

“It’s no secret that sport is not forever. I would hate to get to the end of my volleyball career and feel like I was really really lost, and I didn’t have anything to turn to, nothing else I felt strongly and passionate about, so it’s really important to me.

“And it’s also really great emotionally I think, to keep you grounded, to understand that when we’re on court although we’re trying our best and we’ve put months, years into the preparation for the events we’re playing, it’s still just a game.

“It’s a sport, and life is bigger than the sport and the world is bigger than the sport and that really helps me to perform a lot better.”

Click here for more information about National Careers Week

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