Meet Joanna: Ravens Cheerleader and Environmental Scientist

 Meet Joanna, our newest Science Cheerleader. Joanna is a rookie cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens (the Ravens have 6+ cheerleaders pursuing science/tech careers!). Joanna joined the Science Cheerleaders when we kicked off the Philadelphia Science Festival with the Philly Phanatic and the Mayor of Philly!
Let’s learn more about Joanna:
S.C.: Joanna, what turned you on to science and when?
Joanna: My Senior year of high school I took Earth and Space Systems Science as an elective and fell in love right then. I had never taken so well to any other subject in school. I completely understood the processes and material I was taught and knew that I would like to study some type of earth science in college.

S.C.: What is your degree in and from where?
Joanna: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology with a minor in Meteorology from Marshall University. I would love to go through grad school at some point. But right now I am focusing on moving up in my career and the company I work for.

S.C.: Favorite and/or least favorite courses you took to prepare for your degree?
Joanna: Favorite was definitely Geomorphology in part because I had a great professor and he made it very easy to understand the scale processes we were being taught. Almost all geology classes at Marshall required camping field trips and the geomorphology camping field trip was the best. We went to the Shenandoah National Park where we would go to the overlooks and study the large landscapes and the beautiful rolling hills and tall mountains. It was a great experience! It is hard to pick my least favorite course I had to take, but definitely the course I had the hardest time with was Physics 2. Fortunately, I had a great tutor that helped get me through it!

S.C.: How long have you been cheering for the Ravens? 
Joanna: This is my first year, I am a rookie. I could not be more excited! At Marshall University I was on the dance team and we danced at the football and basketball games, it was so much fun, but I have a feeling cheering and dancing for a NFL team is going to be magical. I cannot wait to get those goose bumps stepping onto the field for the first time! :)

S.C.: Which came first? Your interest in science or cheerleading?
Joanna: Definitely cheerleading. I have been a dancer since I was 5. I have been on many different dance teams and competed in many different competitions, but my greatest accomplishment was when I received that Bachelor of Science degree!

S.C.: Did you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences? (Were you taken seriously?)
Joanna: It really depends. People tend to not take me too seriously; I am a blonde-haired, bubbly gal. You cannot blame people for judging you upon appearance because we all do it; it is part of our society. In my case stereotypes fuel my success. People never expect me to be a scientist, they never expect me to have a science background. It is a great feeling when I tell people I am an Environmental Scientist because the reaction is always a rewarding experience. The second people find out I am a scientist and have a science degree they take me seriously. Opinions can be easy to sway, and I assume I will be breaking stereotypes most of my life.

S.C.: How did your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science?
Joanna: They are proud and impressed. We are all professional and successful women and men and we all support each other in our careers, education and goals!
 
S.C.: Glad you mentioned the men. I had no idea there were ANY professional, male cheerleaders. I understand the Ravens have them! I’ll be interviewing those men soon! In the interim, do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream (cheerleading, etc) and following another (a STEM career)?
Joanna: You can have it all! There is no reason why someone pursuing science in college and as a career cannot be a cheerleader. There are plenty of us college and NFL cheerleaders who are in pursuing STEM careers. It takes hard work and long hours to do both but it is so rewarding.
 
S.C.: Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Joanna: Try not to let other kids bother you. Younger girls, much like myself at 12 years old, lack so much confidence. You have to rise above and find what is comfortable for you, because in the end you are the deciding factor in where your life goes. And don’t forget, your mom is always right, trust me ;)
 
S.C.: What are your plans for the future?
Joanna: I plan on being very successful in my professional, cheerleading and personal life. I plan on never losing touch with my hardworking-self. Nothing comes too easy and being a dancer my entire life and studying science have proven that to me. Hard work pays off.
 
S.C.: Best cheerleading experience?
Joanna: I don’t even know where to begin. It is hard to rank my experiences. My few favorites were performing at NFL halftimes with my college dance team, traveling to nationals and competing on the national level in Daytona, FL, and of course making the Ravens Cheerleaders. One of my goals in life was to become an NFL cheerleader and there is nothing more rewarding then chasing your dreams and reaching your goals!
 
S.C.: Best science-related experience?
Joanna: Giving my capstone presentation. Senior year geology majors are required to work on a final project in order to complete credits for graduation. For my capstone I did a meteorology internship at a local news station and also worked on and completed Flash Flood Potential Impact Maps for the National Weather Service in Charleston, WV. My entire college career led up to that point. I had worked extremely hard and felt such relief when I completed my capstone(s) and was able to present my accomplishments to my professors. I received an ‘A’ for my Capstone Experience and I felt I could accomplish anything after completing all of that.

S.C.: Anything you’d like readers to know about you?
Joanna: Something interesting about me is that I have 4 sisters, one being my identical twin sister. I am extremely close with my sisters and my parents; they support me through everything and helped me excel in college, getting a job and making the Raven Cheerleaders! My most memorable science memory is camping with my best friend and digging for minerals in Hiddenite, NC. It’s so much fun going on geology excursions!

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