Meet Mari: a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader with a Master of Science in Educational Leadership. Mari led several Project MERCCURI citizen science research activities in Florida including a few with Pop Warner cheerleaders. On December 11, 2013, Mari will join other Science Cheerleaders to make a big announcement at the Pop Warner Little Scholars Cheer and Dance Championship at Disney/ESPN’s Wide World of Sports! Which microbes, collected by Pop Warner teams, will be heading to the International Space Station!? Find out on December 11!
SciCheer: Which came first: your interest in science or cheerleading?
Mari: I would definitely say my interest in science came first because of how academically oriented I was as a child but I had always had an interest in performing so I picked up on cheerleading and dance more passionately in middle school.
SciCheer: Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one
dream (cheerleading, etc) and another (a STEM career)?
Mari: My advice is NOT to choose. Instead, challenge yourself to do it all. How well you are disciplined will make the difference. There’s a lot to be said about someone who is willing to move outside the box and explore a dream like cheerleading or becoming a professional in a STEM career. I embrace my “geek” within but also follow my other passion- I’d love for young people to do the same!
SciCheer: Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Mari: I would advise my 12-year-old self to keep finding the internal motivation to accomplish goals and prove to myself that I know what my abilities are. Positive thinking goes a long way- use it!
SciCheer: What are your plans for the future?
Mari: My future goal is to pursue a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership within the next three years. I hope to use this degree to teach more classes at the collegiate level, with an emphasis on human behavior.
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Update, December 2012:
In the past year, I have changed roles at the university where I work. I am now a Senior Academic Advisor in Undergraduate Education and continue teaching courses including First Year Experience, Introduction to Honors, and an Honors Leadership Seminar. Next semester I will also be teaching a new course “Discovering Your Major” guiding students through an exploration of professions that not only fit them best but honing in on one that challenges them professionally utilizing their skills and interests in Math, Science, Engineering, Business, or various Arts & Sciences.
In my fourth and final season as a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader, I had the honor of serving as a Co-Captain. I helped lead a group of 11 women on our team and could not have asked for a more rewarding experience!