Hello, Science Cheerleader fans! As part of NFL Playoff season, we are interviewing some of the current professional cheerleaders who are cheering their teams in the playoffs while also pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Read on to learn more about Jenn, a registered nurse in a cardiac ward and member of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders (MVC) squad.
How did you get interested in science?
I will be honest, my love for science and medicine didn’t evolve until I was in college. Growing up, science and math courses often intimidated me because I didn’t think I was smart enough. I was always worried that I didn’t have the right answer. Ironically, that is now what I love about science! Sometimes we don’t have the right answer, and have to keep experimenting and testing different hypotheses until we get it right. If I could go back and offer my 12-year-old self advice, I would tell myself to be confident and to stop minimizing my intelligence.
Who had the most influence on your career choice?
I realized I wanted to be a nurse when my grandma was sick in hospice care. I was fascinated and inspired by the work of the home-care nurse, and when she needed assistance with caring for my grandma, I was quick to volunteer. I fell in love with taking care of others, and made a career out of it as a Registered Nurse.
How would you describe what you do?
As a cardiac nurse, I take care of patients with a variety of heart diseases including patients suffering from heart attack, heart failure, and those recovering from open-heart surgery. I am responsible for administering medications, monitoring vital signs, and interpreting heart rhythms on the cardiac monitor called telemetry.
How do you integrate your career with being a professional cheerleader?
Balancing my part-time work as a cheerleader in addition to my job as a nurse requires a lot of time management! I work the overnight shift at the hospital, and often work weekends and holidays. This has taught me the importance of staying organized, planning ahead, and prioritizing my sleep and health.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
One of the things that I love most about being an RN is that I learn something new every single day. Medicine is constantly evolving. As a nurse I stay up to date on current evidence-based practice, breakthrough treatments, and new technology to reduce the risk of heart disease in the US.
What’s been the best experience as an NFL cheerleader?
My favorite experience as an NFL cheerleader is our annual Junior Cheer program. Each year, 500+ young cheerleaders ages 3-14 train alongside current MVCs and learn a special routine that is performed at a Vikings game in front of 65,000 fans at US Bank Stadium. In addition to dancing, the junior cheerleaders learn the importance of hard work, leadership, and confidence. I love to give back to the community, and to be a role model for young women.
What’s one thing people would find surprising about you?
One thing about me that often surprises people is that in addition to being a dancer, I also played hockey in college!