Meet Miranda, former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins with a Masters in Psychology from the University of North Florida. Miranda performed with fellow Science Cheerleaders in Vegas recently.
SciCheer: Why science?
Miranda: From the first day of my psychology class I knew it was a perfect fit. I wanted to understand what made people behave they way they did and to help them reach their highest potential. Within my degree, I was most drawn to the personality, developmental, and social psychology classes that involved understanding personal attributes and their effect on interpersonal relationships during different seasons of one’s life.
SciCheer: Did you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences?
Miranda: I found that I was still taken seriously in my line of work when I became a cheerleader because I had already established my capability as a Psychologist. The stereotypes revealed themselves when people learned that as a cheerleader, I also had a masters degree in psychology. I think I was actually more surprised to find out that the perception of cheerleaders is still so primitive in that beauty and brains must be mutually exclusive, than people were surprised to learn that I was a cheerleader AND smart.
SciCheer: How did your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science?
Miranda: If you ask most pro-cheerleaders, we could tell you that intelligence and being a cheerleader must go hand in hand. Once you enter the professional world of cheerleading within the NFL and NBA you learn really quickly that only the most intelligent, most driven and most confident women will thrive. The expectations of a cheerleader–from the time commitment, public speaking engagements and the rapid pace one needs to pick up a variety of choreography–is not achievable for a woman without intelligence. Stereotypes will not change if we don’t change them ourselves. It starts by girls realizing their fullest potential and then pursuing ALL their dreams.
SciCheer: Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
Miranda: Having grown up taking dance with dance instructors that invested their time in me helped me develop that confidence and I want to “pay it forward” to the next generation of girls. I’m a firm believer in living by example. How can I teach young girls how to break the stereotypes if I’m not making efforts to do it myself? Science Cheerleaders bring light to the fact that beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive and in fact, having brains makes you that much more beautiful!