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Jacob Cookson - SBC culture of service the start of hectic program of service and success

The term ‘busy’ is one that is used increasingly in modern society, but for one SBC Old Boy it is one that can be understandably used to describe a hectic program of work, study and service to the community.

Yeppoon student Jacob Cookson graduated from SBC in 2015 and with plans to become a doctor, commenced studying a dual degree, a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Laws at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

“My whole time at St Brendan’s College I wanted to be a doctor and wanted to practice medicine: I always worked in a pharmacy part-time and when I got to the end of Grade 12, I had to make a decision about what I wanted to study,” Mr Cookson said.  

“Given how competitive medicine would be and given I was 17, I planned to use biomedical science to get into medicine, with law as a back-up,” he said.

“Even coming into my degree, I always thought I would study medicine, but as my degree has played out, I still have a love for medicine and health, but have also realised I prefer law.”

Currently the President of the Bond University Law Students’ Association, and the Secretary of the Bond University Student Association, Jacob is also currently planning a stint overseas after applying and receiving the New Colombo Plan Scholarship to study in Hong Kong and the Indo-Pacific region in 2019.

A government-run initiative to support students wanting to study in the Indo Pacific region, as part of Jacob’s scholarship application he had to pitch how he could use his degree to benefit the region.

“In 2016, just after I started university, I joined a team going over to Nepal, for an aid program in a rural community impacted by the earthquake in 2015.”

“I was fresh out of high school, we were the first team to go over, and it was a big eye-opening experience.”

“I’d been overseas a couple of times, but nothing like Nepal, and because I loved that trip; I was chosen as the convenor and oversaw the 2018 program taking 16 people over there.” 

“I’ve got a real interest in international arbitration law and as part of my involvement with the law faculty I also engaged in an international mooting competition where we worked on a moot for six months and travelled to Hong Kong.”

“There were universities like Harvard and Yale that we beat in knock-out rounds, and after the preliminary rounds we were ranked six out of 125 teams.”

“The interesting thing we noticed was that some of the most competitive universities were from India, Singapore and China.”

With that in mind, in combination with Jacob’s aid work in the region and with his significant involvement in the student society and the law program, he became aware of the New Colombo Program as an opportunity to travel, study and work in that region.

“The New Colombo program gives me long-term exposure to new cultures and with the Indo-Pacific region growing so quickly, to get that exposure to the legal industry in that area will be so interesting.”

For Jacob, his involvement in community service while at St Brendan’s College started a journey of service that has continued in Australia, and overseas with his aid work in Nepal.

“At school I was involved as much as I could; with Eddies Rice camp, I was always going to Eddies Van, in Year 12 I won an award for community service, I was in Youth Parliament in high school representing Keppel and I did a few leadership camps,” he said.

“I think St Brendan’s supports that culture of service leadership and I’ve definitely seen that go beyond my time at school.”

“I owe much of what I’ve achieved to growing up in Yeppoon and going to St Brendan’s.”

“The teachers were super supportive of everything we did; every teacher supported me on my journey of what I wanted to do, our science faculty particularly.”

“The content I was studying at university, I was so well set up to study the bio-med subjects I was taking.

“Something that St Brendan’s also taught me is organisation and time management.” 

“I always recall getting a diary and you map everything out, and my time management skills have definitely adapted from that; every minute of every day is mapped out as to where I have to be.”

For Jacob, and his twin brother Sam, who also attended SBC with him from Year 8 to 12 the mateship and the opportunities were two key elements of their time at St Brendan’s College.

“You know everyone in your year group; St Brendan’s is really good at embedding that culture of mateship,” he said.

Jacob’s plans over the next two years are substantial; undertaking the Colombo Plan Scholarship in Hong Kong and potentially interning and working in Paris, London, Canada or New York.”

“I did a bit of travel as a kid with my parents to Thailand; in Grade 11 I received a scholarship to go to New Zealand on a music tour and in Grade 12 I won the Premier’s ANZAC Prize to go to Turkey, Belgium and France for ANZAC Day.”

“I love to travel, I love seeing different cultures, but for me travelling with a purpose is what I love; to engage authentically in a culture is really interesting, rather than just as a tourist.”

“The reality is that in 2021 when I come back to Australia, I’ll be working in a graduate law position, so for me I’m trying to get as much world experience before I settle into a job and work full-time.”

Asked what advice he would give to students at St Brendan’s today, Jacob is adamant that living in Yeppoon offers significant opportunities.

“People need to be proactive; there are plenty of opportunities if you search for them. Make the most of school facilities and faculties at St Brendan’s.”

“There are really quality teachers who are so supportive of students going as far as they can - reach out to them,” he said.

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