Cheerleaders have long been associated with beauty, toned bodies, graceful dance moves, skill, washboard abs, great smiles, and sadly, being low on IQ. But if you meet this year’s roster of cheerleaders for the New England Patriots at the Super Bowl XLIX, you will never look at cheerleaders the same way again.
NFL cheerleaders are a league of their own. They are not sideliners to the Superbowl, they are part of the main event. Yeah, cheerleading is a big thing. They are part of the whole game saga almost as much as the players are.
It takes a lot to be on the cheerleading team. You have to pass an audition and undergo rigorous practices to make it to the final games. And if you have university, masters, and doctorate degrees to back you up, it is a whole new level of playing field.
Meet the 9 Science Cheerleaders of the New England Patriots.
Kelly. Perhaps considered as the smartest among this batch, Kelly is finishing a PhD program in Cognitive Neuroscience. She is also a psychology and neuroscience professor in the Boston area. She says, “I would like to be a full-time/tenured psychology and neuroscience professor and researcher. Being a part-time faculty member while I finish my Ph.D. is unbelievably rewarding, and doing this for the rest of my life would be a dream.” As for being a cheerleader, Kelly said, “This is to show everyone that as a girl, you can have everything.”
Alyssa. She is currently a senior undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut taking up Biomedical engineering as a major while trying to obtain a minor in Materials Science and Engineering. Alyssa enjoyed math and science in high school and thought that the biomedical field of engineering was the perfect course for her. “I love helping people and wanted to integrate problem solving with medicine,” she says.
Megan. She finished her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst but she eventually pursued accounting and currently works as an accountant for Liberty Mutual Insurance. Megan says, “While my short-term goal is to continue to progress within the accounting field, I would like to explore other avenues of corporate America further down the road. I enjoy working with numbers, but I also have an outgoing and extroverted side, so people-oriented professions such as those in human resources and marketing are of particular interest to me. I believe that understanding the accounting and finance principles behind corporate operations will serve as a solid foundation that allows me to branch into different career opportunities within the business world.”
Melanie. She holds a degree in Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Connecticut and she will be graduating in May of 2015 from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine with a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. “I’ve wanted to become a dentist ever since I was a little girl, but I became more interested in the career after realizing it is a combination of science, art, and service–all things I wanted to incorporate into a career. I plan to begin practicing as an associate dentist after graduation and possibly open my own dental practice in the future,” Melanie reveals.
Erica. She first studied nursing at the Boston College in the Connell School of nursing, where she was able to gain clinical experience working in the general medicine unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Eventually, she graduated from Boston College with a combined degree in Biology, Applied Psychology, and Human Development. Erica says, “I am now in the process of continuing my education in STEM through graduate school. I am hoping to expand my degree either in nursing, focusing on pediatric oncology, or psychology.”
Kristen. Throughout high school, Kristen was very interested in pursuing some type of career in the health sciences. She loved chemistry, biology, and anatomy classes, and a career in the medical field seemed to me to be extremely rewarding for her. “I am currently in school to become a physical therapist,” she said.
Lauren. As one who loved dancing, Lauren has obtained both have a Bachelors and Masters in Education from Boston University, majoring in Physical Education, Health Education, and Coaching. She is currently a Fitness and Health teacher at Wellesley Middle School.
Brittany. Having obtained a Master’s Degree from the University of Connecticut in Social Work, Brittany is currently working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in an outpatient hospital setting, specializing in behavioral and mental health treatment. “I work as part of a medical team alongside a Child Psychiatrist that provides psychotherapy services to children, adolescents, and their families. An area of my clinical specialty is Trauma-informed care. I conduct Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to children who have suffered some form of trauma such as abuse, neglect or traumatic grief,” Brittany explains.
Hannah. She is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology because “I want to go into some type of mental health counseling whether it is in a sober house, a hospital, or even working with specific cases that involve families, relationships, or individual problems.”
Well, there you go. Who says you can’t be both smart and still be a cheerleader? Ladies, you are such an inspiration. you rock!
All Photo credits: Justin Hammond