Howdy, folks! Bart the Cheer Operations Ninja here. Darlene invited me to take a turn interviewing some of the new Science Cheerleaders. Something else new that we’re trying is talking to more current and former college cheerleaders who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Parish, who cheered at Virginia State University, is now pursuing a career as a math teacher in Virginia. I’ll let her tell the rest!

What turned you on to science/engineering?
Parish:In high school, I passed the state standardized test with an almost perfect score of 599/600. I felt like a genius so I figured I would take up math as my major in college and become a teacher!
Please tell us about your cheerleading experiences.
Parish: I cheered for Virginia State University 2006-2010. I started recreation league cheering after school at the age of 7. I loved every minute. I learned how to take constructive criticism and work hard towards my goal!
Cool! Let’s get back to teaching math. What sparked that interest?
Parish: My 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Lassiter. She made it look so easy. I love teaching those around me especially little people (ages 3-6). They are so curious about the world around them. I was able to showcase that love of teaching through cheerleading camps teaching young divas how to be positive, strong cheerLEADERS.
Did you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered you?
Parish: I would say it helped because if you were to mention that you were a VSU cheerleader doors will open and kindness would flow in. Woo Woos (VSU cheerleaders) are known to be very disciplined, well mannered, organized and professional. So a lot was expected of us anytime we were in public or in the classroom.
Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream (cheerleading, etc) and following another (a STEM career)?
Parish: I never really had any issues being a cheerleader and a math major because most of the math and science majors were athletes, campus models and dancers. I would tell them that being a math geek is beautiful and everyone loves a girl with beauty and brains. 🙂
Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Parish: I would tell myself not to become frustrated with math or science. These areas of learning were created for trial and error, critical thinking, and many mistakes along the way.
Best cheerleading experience?
Parish: My best experience was traveling to Jamaica to spread the love of cheerleading and teach the positives of being a DIVA (Determined Individual with Valuable Ambition). It was through the Rudi Johnson Foundation a then-player of the Cincinnati Bengals. We were asked in 2007 to join them as they traveled down to the islands as they conducted football and basketball camps with the help of other professional athletes. At the time they didn’t have anything for the young girls so having someone do a cheering camp and it being the VSU Woo Woos was a blessing. It was such a success they asked us to join them again the following summer!
Best science-related experience?
Parish: I would have to say completing the math classes needed for my major. I am an Algebra girl and getting through Calculus was a challenge but getting through it was the best.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Parish: I’m a math teacher looking to grow in my career and my love for cheering. What else can I say I LOVE cheering and dance! I also think that the Science Cheerleaders will have such a positive effect on young girls!

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