Jaclyn: Washington Wizards Cheerleader, Mathematician, and Computer Engineer, performing with Science Cheerleaders at the USA Science and Engineering Festival

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Hello, Science Cheerleader fans! Jaclyn is one of two current Washington Wizard Gals who will be joining the Science Cheerleaders at the USA Science & Engineering Festival April 16-17See what she has to say!

What turned you onto science and when?

Throughout my education, I always had an interest in math and it came very easily to me. I enjoyed puzzles and anything I could logically analyze. I took the most advanced high school courses available and decided that I wanted to major in Mathematics in college. In my senior year of high school, I received an internship and full college scholarship with the Department of Defense. During my first internship the summer after high school, I had a mentor who introduced me to the world of computer science. My analytical mind thrived on the challenges that computer science presented, and I decided to also major in Computer Science. I graduated from the University of Maryland with dual degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics!

What is your STEM field? 

I am a Computer Engineer and Mathematician for the United States Department of Defense. Specifically, I work in High Performance Computing! I use a computing cluster to simulate aircraft battle scenarios and optimize aircraft tactics.

Which came first, science or cheerleading?

I began dancing at age of two, so dance came first for me! However, very soon after starting my education, my parents realized that I also had a propensity for math, as I began doing my brother’s math homework even though he was two years older.

Best cheerleading experience?

My best dance experience was stepping onto the court for the very first time as a Washington Wizard Girl. From an early age, it was my dream. I worked so hard preparing for auditions. After making the team, I worked tirelessly learning several routines and sideline choreography. When I finally took the court for the first time, I knew all of the hard work paid off. My lifelong dream had finally come true!

Best science experience? 

My favorite experience was going out on an aircraft carrier and submarine. As a Computer Engineer and Mathematician, I normally model and simulate aircraft from a computer lab. It was an amazing experience to see these aircraft so close and in full operation, taking off and landing right in front of me! I gained incredible insight into the lives of the servicemen and women, and got a reminder of how my role in the computer lab helps to keep them safe! My experience was truly enlightening and it is the reason that I have such a passion for the work I do!

What advice would you have given your 12-year old self? 

Don’t give up on your passion, no matter what it is! If you love something, do it! Whether your passion is dance, cheerleading, sports, engineering, science, or anything else, you don’t have to choose just one. Sometimes it is tough to balance, but it is completely worth it!