Jena, NFL cheerleader and accountant: “Math’s been my favorite subject since 1st grade.”

Greetings, Science Cheerleader fans! Meet Jena, a Titans cheerleader and accountant and someone who enjoys confounding people’s stereotypes.

What is your degree in and from where?
I graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Accounting. My favorite courses were first and second levels of introduction to Accounting because this is where I really got a feel for my major. Math has been my favorite subject since the 1st grade and I found that this was the subject that I really excelled at.

Why you tried out to be a professional cheerleader.
I cheered for the AAA Baseball Memphis Redbirds one year, the Nashville Predators Hockey one year, and the Tennessee Titans three years. Gymnastics, dance, and sports have been a passion of mine since I was 4 years old. The Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers) moved to Nashville in 1999 and I after I spotted the cheerleaders on television while watching the game with my dad I knew right then that this is what I wanted to pursue after finishing my education.

Best part of your day job?
The best part about my job is being able to apply my love for math on a daily basis along with challenging myself with new opportunities at work.

Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your career?
We all know that professional cheerleaders are put into a specific stereotype and this definitely makes me work harder at what I do. Fans ask me all the time what I do besides cheerleading and when I tell them that I’m a full-time accountant, the looks on their faces are priceless. I see the same look every time and I actually get enjoyment out of it because they are so confused and surprised. They always follow it up with, “Wow, I would have never guessed that.”

How do your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science/engineering?
I tend to come in very handy when tax season comes around because I’m able to answer questions for some of the girls when it comes to filing their taxes.

Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another?
I decided in the last 2 years of college that I was going to put my love for dance on hold until I finished my education. I was getting into the more difficult courses that required me to study for hours on end. This was a very hard decision for me but I knew after finishing my degree that I would be jumping back into dance/cheerleading. The advice that I give to young girls is that you can have it all as long as you organize everything accordingly and are able to give each passion 100% no matter what.

Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
To embrace every moment that you have because time passes faster than you think and you don’t get those moments back.

What are your plans for the future?
After I finish cheering, I would like to go back to college and finish my master’s degree in accounting.

Best cheerleading experience?
My best cheerleading experience would have to be when I decided to participate in a Fun Run to raise money for Childhood Cancer Research. People have no idea that Childhood Cancer Research is the most underfunded out of all cancers. I asked a 7-year-old boy from my hometown to come to this event because I would be running for him. Hunter had to have a heart transplant when he was 6 months old and later developed leukemia. He had numerous surgeries to remove over 16 tumors and has now been cancer free for 2 years. Hunter is the happiest kid I’ve ever met and you would never guess that he had to go through all of this at such a young age. He absolutely loves the Titans and his favorite player is our new quarterback Jake Locker. I presented him with a signed jersey from Locker before the race and his face was just priceless. We were given 40 minutes to run as many miles as we could in that time frame. I have always enjoyed running but had never participated in an actual race until this one. There was something in me that day that pushed me so hard that I actually won the entire race where I ran 5 miles. The overwhelming feeling and having Hunter and his family cheer me on was truly an amazing experience.

Best science-related experience?
My CEO and owner of my company are both season ticket holders and to have them both look at me and tell me that they underestimated how smart I am when it comes to my job in accounting was the best feeling.

What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
Most people don’t know that I watch Sports Center every night before I go to bed. I also started my own all-girls fantasy football league this year and organized a draft party.

If you could rewind the clock and change your degree, would you?
I knew since middle school that I would be doing something in the math field when I grew up, and my freshman year of high school I decided that I wanted to be an accountant. So no, I would not change my degree.

Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
I want to be an influence for young girls and show them that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

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