Brittany: Redskins cheerleader, nurse, and cancer survivor

Meet Brittany, our newest Science Cheerleader (NFL, NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers), a Washington Redskins cheerleader, cancer survivor, and mom, who’s earning an advanced degree in nursing.

SciCheer: What turned you on to science and when?
Brittany:
My high school freshman chemistry teacher, Mrs. Johnson, invited me to join the science club at school. I loved it and knew then that someday I’d work in science. Now, I am currently pursing my second science degree in Nursing! I am also the national spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and a patient advisor for fellow Melanoma survivors at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

SciCheer: Best cheerleading experience?
Brittany:
Going on tour to Afghanistan to perform for our troops! This has been one of the most thrilling and unforgettable experiences of my life. I will forever be grateful to my director for choosing me for this opportunity.

SciCheer: Best science-related experience?
Brittany:
Being able to testify in front of Congress and the FDA for anti-tanning laws and regulations.

SciCheer: How big of a role can a citizen, without formal scientific training, play in real scientific research?
Brittany:
Being a cancer survivor, this question hits close to home. There comes a point when we, the citizens (with or without formal scientific training), need to become involved to get better, more objective results, particularly in cancer research. One example: next time you see that letter in your doctor’s office asking for volunteers for a study and you qualify, get involved. We need your help. Science needs your help.

SciCheer: What are your plans for the future?
Brittany:
I’d like to work in pediatric oncology at Children’s National Medical Center in DC. I know all too well this journey. My nurses and doctors were my glue. They kept me together both mentally and physically and I cannot imagine doing anything else in my life but giving that same love, care and devotion to other children battling cancer as well. I’m not sure where my professional cheerleading career will take me, but this season has been one that I will never forget! Even if I’m not cheering I will always be a member of our alumni association and probably begin teaching again at my childhood dance studio.

SciCheer: Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences?
Brittany: I received a scholarship to go to Towson University and be on their national award winning dance team. I had practice 2-3 times a week with games and performances all while taking a full course load of more than 15 credits per semester and remaining on honor society. I am now a professional cheerleader with the Washington Redskins. I have practice twice a week, promotional and charity events almost daily and military tour practices, all while being a full time mom, working full time and going back to school. I know the stereotypes that exist about cheerleaders and I hope from stories like my own that you can see they are far from the truth. Anyone who cannot see that from the countless number of professional cheerleaders who lead successful lives and contribute to society in positive ways, does not really understand the type of woman it takes to do this job.

SciCheer: What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Brittany:
When you are younger, some of your dreams are those that your parents have for you. They have these dreams for you because their expectations of you are set so high because they know you are capable to reaching those goals and achieving those dreams. Listen to them! You should always see yourself through your parents eyes. You can take on the world and do whatever you set your mind to. Now having a child of my own, I better understand that.