Science Cheerleader Hilary here, excited to continue our Patriots profiles with veteran Melissa (see her group interview from last year here)! Melissa is a second-year New England Patriots Cheerleaders veteran working on healthy living from all sides! Melissa has a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition and a minor in Psychology (healthy in both mind and body!). She is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in Nutrition and Fitness when she’s not on the field cheering on the Pats! Read on below to learn all about how Melissa finds balance in her life between her studies and the sidelines!

What turned you on to science and when? I first became interested in STEM (science, technology, mathematics, engineering) as a high school student when I started looking into degree paths for college. I knew I wanted to pursue a career where I could help people in the health field, and nutrition became a clear choice. I have been passionate about living a healthy lifestyle my whole life and it made perfect sense to get my education in this area.
Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader? I wanted to become an NFL cheerleader because it is an incredible thrill to perform at Gillette Stadium for such an amazing football team. Being a cheerleader takes a great deal of dedication and strength, and living out this dream is definitely an empowering milestone.
Tell us about your career and what you do on a daily basis. I work with people who are eager to improve their health in a variety of ways. This can include wanting to lose weight, increase muscle tone, improve energy, etc. I help people by explaining guidelines on how to take steps to reach their overall health goals. I collect certain information like anthropometric measurements, medical history, and diet recalls to establish meal plans personalized to each individual. I am also pursuing my Master of Science, so I do a lot of different research on nutrition and its effects on things like diseases. My ultimate goal is to become a Registered Dietitian and run my own private practice counseling clients.
What does it mean for you to be studying and practicing in science? Working in this field can be extremely rewarding because I am ultimately helping people achieve their goals. Helping someone improve their health can change their life and make them feel confident and proud to wake up every morning. Knowing that I am able to assist them in this process makes the things I do completely worth it. The United States also has a rising issue of overweight/obesity as well as medical concerns related to cardiovascular symptoms and diseases. It is my job to help lower the prevalence of these conditions to make the world a healthier and happier place.
How do the qualities that make you a great cheerleader benefit you in your science career? Being a cheerleader not only entails dancing and performing at games, but it also involves interacting with lots of fans on a daily basis. It is important to be very friendly and outgoing in these settings. This is also extremely important in the health field because we come face to face with so many people. It’s also vital to have a positive attitude at all times to motivate clients to achieve their goals. These qualities go hand in hand with being a successful cheerleader!
What has been your best cheerleading experience? My favorite experience as a Patriots Cheerleader has to be hearing the crowd roar when the Patriots won Super Bowl LI. The indoor stadium allowed every sound to be enhanced, and hearing those Pats fans cheer was the most incredible sound I have ever heard. Immediately after the game ended, we were completely blinded by blue and red confetti. At that moment, we were all hugging each other, crying, and making snow angels in all the confetti on the field!
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self? If I had the opportunity, I would tell my 12-year-old self to always remember to stay true to your own dreams and aspirations. There are so many times in life when you might feel like taking the easy or practical route, but I have learned that the truly amazing things in life never come easily. Put in the hard work and in the end it will be completely worth it.

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