Meet Kristen: Ravens cheerleader, high school chemistry teacher

Kristen is one of 10 Science Cheerleaders who will perform at NASA’s headquarters on 3/16 as part of a White House initiative to celebrate Women’s History Month! She’s a Baltimore Raven’s cheerleader and a high school science teacher.

SciCheer: Kristen, what turned you on to science?
Kristen: My parents sparked an interest in science and math for me and my sister, as kids. My dad’s an electrician and my mom’s a math and computer teacher.

SciCheer: What is your degree in and from where?
Kristen: University of Maryland, College Park; Secondary Education with a specialization in chemistry
SciCheer: Favorite course you took to prepare for your degree?
Kristen: I loved the chemistry lab classes.  I really enjoy hands-on science learning.

SciCheer: How long have you been cheering for the Ravens?
Kristen: 5 years (2000-2003, 2009, 2010)

SciCheer: Which came first, your interest in science or cheerleading?
Kristen: My interest in science came first.  I entered and won my first science fair in second grade.  I still remember my project.  I investigated how light, temperature and soil affect seed germination.

SciCheer: Can you describe a typical day at work?
Kristen: I teach science, coach a varsity cheerleading team and cheer for Ravens.
My day starts at  5:00 am and I usually get home around 10:30 pm on the days we have Ravens practice.
You really have to love what you’re doing to tolerate a schedule like that!
SciCheer: Did you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences? (Were you taken seriously?)
Kristen: Stereotypes exist everywhere.  You either allow them to help you or hinder you.  I’ve always used any negative feedback to fuel my success!

SciCheer: How did your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science?
Kristen: They think it’s impressive!

SciCheer: Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream (cheerleading, etc)  and following another such as a STEM career)?
Kristen: Don’t ever feel compelled to choose between one or the other or feel that you fit one image but not the other.  You can fulfill both dreams.

SciCheer: Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Kristen: Do the things that make you happy and that satisfy your dreams, without worrying about peer pressure and what anyone else perceives you to be.  In other words, stay true to yourself!

SciCheer: What are your plans for the future?
Kristen: I am continuing my science education and working towards earning my master’s degree in Nutrition.  I also have plans to raise a family while continuing to teach science.

SciCheer: Best cheerleading experience?
Kristen: In 2003 I was selected to represent the Ravens on a military services tour to Japan and Korea.

SciCheer: Best science-related experience?
Kristen: It is very satisfying and fulfilling when former students come back to visit and tell me that I’ve inspired them to pursue a science career.

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