Mary Carolyn, an NFL cheerleader-turned-statistician, is the is the latest in our growing team of Science Cheerleaders. Let’s meet Mary Carolyn!
Why math?
Mary Carolyn: I first became interested in math in grade school, around 6th grade because I had a particularly strong math teacher and she set up speed multiplication competitions in the class and I used to win them. It wasn’t until graduate school that I became heavily interested in the scientific method and in statistical analysis.Now I have a BBA in Finance and a Masters Degree in Human Resources.
Favorite and least favorite courses you took to prepare for your work?
Mary Carolyn: My favorite course of all time was multiple regression. I also taught many university courses and I loved teaching statistics. Least favorite was freshman year calculus (sorry, calculus!). The presentation was not inviting. When I taught my classes I really tried to make them fun for the students. They may or may not have been viewed as “fun” (doubtful), but I tried and enjoyed it so much!
Can you describe a “typical day” at work ?
Mary Carolyn: My typical day involves lots of data analysis and research and reviewing various mathematical and statistical methods for various tasks.
What would most people find surprising about your field of interest?
Mary Carolyn: Statistics is fun, it is not as scary as it looks and it helps you make better decisions.

Do you feel you your work as a professional cheerleader helped or hindered your career?
Mary Carolyn: It did not help me in the corporate world because of the time commitment, so I started my own consulting practice and was successful at that, so the end result was a good one. I would not trade the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a professional NFL cheerleader. I was 30 at the time and it was “now or never.” I am sooooo glad I cheered. It was an unforgettable experience.
Best cheerleading experience?
Mary Carolyn: So many; charity events, exciting games and now, the Alumni reunions! [here I am cheering at the last Redskins alumni reunion!]
Is there advice you would give your former 12-year-old self, now that you have the benefit of hindsight?
Mary Carolyn: The same advice I give my daughter: Go for it, reach for the stars. We don’t own the outcome or result, but we do own our effort in trying to reach our goals. Give it your best shot and know that you did your best. I think we end up where we are meant to be.
Anything else you’d like readers to know?
Mary Carolyn: I hope our readers encourage all kids to think about careers in science, technology, engineering and math and also to really strive to get good grades in math and science and to participate in after-school/work math and science activities.

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