Science Cheerleader Hilary here, excited to bring you an update on New England Patriots Cheerleader Jenna! We met Jenna last year when she was a rookie, and we’re thrilled to learn more about her in her first year as a veteran on the team! Jenna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Power Systems Management—that’s one bright woman!
How did you decide to pursue a STEM field? I like to challenge myself. Engineering was one of the hardest majors offered at my college and it incorporated my two favorite subjects: math and science.
Why did you try out to be a Patriots cheerleader? It was always a dream of mine to cheer on the sideline for my favorite football team. I love everything that Patriots Cheerleading encompasses: from the organization, to community involvement, to being an all-around outstanding person, and one of the best role models. When I was younger I attended a Junior Patriots Cheerleading camp. This experience reinforced what I already thought about the Patriots Cheerleaders. They were not only beautiful and talented, but were also well-rounded, successful, and intelligent ladies. These ladies were always role models of mine, but after the cheer camp, I wanted nothing more than to be cheerleading/dancing at Gillette Stadium.
Please describe what you do in your career on a daily basis. I work at a power company. My goal is to figure out ways to keep the lights on and make power more reliable. I review past outages and look for trends as to why the power goes out in your house. During a storm, my “normal job” goes on hold while I report for storm duty. During storm duty, I review power outages as they begin to build up. I manage different crews to assess different areas as to why they are experiencing a power outage. Then, I can determine which crews are needed and what needs to be performed to restore power as quickly as possible.
What does it mean for you to be practicing in STEM? The need for power continues to grow as the world becomes more dependent on it. Also, people’s expectations to be able to have power increases and they expect to have it 24/7. My job plays a huge role in how to distribute power more reliably.
There are stereotypes about cheerleaders that make it seem unlikely that a cheerleader could be an engineer. You are a great example of how untrue those stereotypes are! How do you feel about breaking down negative stereotypes about cheerleaders and who can be an engineer? Many people are surprised to find out that I am an engineer, especially when they know that I am a cheerleader. Science/engineering and cheerleading are typically thought to be two entirely separate worlds. Science/engineering is an impressive field that takes a lot of hard work and analytical thinking, whereas cheerleaders are often stereotyped as unintelligent. However, one’s physical abilities and interests should not be used as an indicator of intelligence. If anything, sport participation demonstrates talent, dedication, and passion. I love being able to break this stereotype and be an advocate for young girls who never thought about pursuing a STEM career.
How do the qualities that make you a great cheerleader benefit you in your career? I’m used to performing under pressure, which helps me tackle urgent tasks at work. In order to be a great cheerleader I need to be able to juggle many things and multitask, which are great qualities to have in any career.
What has been your best cheerleading experience? One of my favorite cheerleading memories, and a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life, was being on field alongside my favorite NFL team while it was raining red, white, and blue confetti during the AFC Championships. The energy and excitement was radiating throughout the stadium. It was the best way to end the season on home turf, especially as it was my first year as a Patriots Cheerleader. It also led to an experience of a lifetime in Houston, TX with the most exciting Super Bowl win of all time.
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self? Don’t stress! Change the things you can, and accept the things you cannot. Also, make as many friends and memories as possible.