Cindy: Atlanta Falcons cheerleader, future Industrial Engineer

Greetings, Science Cheerleader fans! Bart here to introduce you to Cindy, an Atlanta Falcons cheerleader from Taiwan who’s pursuing a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. She’s our newest Science Cheerleader (current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, math and health fields).Happy reading!

What turned you on to science and when?
Cindy:
Interestingly, I actually did not think about getting into anything science related field before I went to high school in Taiwan. I have been dancing since I was three years old, and all I thought about was becoming a dance teacher. But luckily, I scored a decent grade on the school entrance exam and got into the best girls’ high school in my city. That is when I started to get in touch with more science-related courses and realized it would be beneficial and useful to my life to pursue a science/ engineering degree with dancing as an interest. And I knew I would make my family proud as well!

Favorite and/or least favorite courses you’ve taken so far to prepare for your degree? Why?
Cindy:
I like all the courses that I have taken so far because they all build upon each other and toward the practical application of my study. By far, my favorite course is Supply Chain Logistics: Manufacturing because my professor uses a lot of practical examples and problems to help me get a sense of what I will face when I start professional career in the industrial engineering related field.

You’re attending the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). What got you interested in Industrial and system engineering? Where do you intend to go with those studies?
Cindy:
I chose Industrial and Systems engineering (ISyE) since Georgia Tech has had the best ISyE program in the country for 20 years now. It involves a lot of logical and analytical thinking as well as mathematical problem solving skills. ISyE can be utilized in almost every industry in some way somehow. I am now concentrating in supply chain logistics which is the study of optimizing the efficiency of a company’s service with minimum cost.

You cheered for Georgia Tech for a couple years, and now you’re in your rookie year with the Atlanta Falcons. What’s the biggest difference between cheering for college vs. the pros?
Cindy:
Cheering for the Atlanta Falcons is definitely more intense and competitive than it was in college. There are more routines I have to memorize in a shorter period of time so I have to be on top of all the materials and be 100% ready to secure my spot in each dance. The other huge difference is that I got more opportunities and life experiences after I became one of the professional cheerleaders. I had the chance to be on TV shows with all my teammates and had the opportunity to go to Bermuda for the swim suit calendar shoot. Also, I get to meet and work with different people from all over the country or even around the world and hear their inspiring stories.

Which came first, your interest in science or cheerleading?
Cindy:
I have been dancing my whole life since childhood and then my interest in science came along as I continued my education. Luckily, I was able to dance for Georgia Tech and got introduced to the world of professional cheerleading by my collegiate dance team coach. I completely fell in love with professional cheerleading ever since and decided to take the opportunity to try out for Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders!

Did you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences? (Are you taken seriously?)
Cindy:
To be honest, I can definitely tell some people doubt my abilities and look down on me when they first know that I am a professional cheerleader. But those who have the chance to get to know me usually end up realizing that a huge number of professional cheerleaders and I are stereotype breakers and we are dedicating our time not only to the pom-poms but also to science-related degrees or career. So far, the people I am working with professionally are being supportive and taking me seriously. 

How did your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science?
Cindy:
My fellow cheerleaders have been very supportive. They always give me a lot of spinergy (spirit + energy – word created by our one and only Coach Chato!), words of encouragement and hugs to cheer me up and tell me not to give up. We support each other just like a big family!

Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another?
Cindy:
Seriously, do not think you can only have one or the other. Do not assume that you can’t do both before you even try it. Coming from a typical Asian family, I can still remember the time when my mom was asking me to stop dancing and to focus on school work. I had to fight for it and told her that studying cannot be the only thing in my life. I also expressed how dancing has helped me grow so much in different ways of my life and it does not affect my academic performance. Ever since then, she has been very supportive and proud of me. So, do not easily get discouraged and keep chasing your dream!

Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Cindy:
Work hard but don’t stress out too much. It’s okay to fail. Just find the problem, try again and keep working. Remember, you have to believe in yourself so other people will believe in you! You can do it! =)

What are your plans for the future?
Cindy:
I am still exploring all the different possibilities that I can pursue in my life. But since my parents are still Taiwan, I might eventually go back and settle there so I can be closer to them. For now, I am considering applying to graduate school concentrating in supply chain engineering. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll be working to gain some work experience and then pursue an MBA degree in the near future.

Best cheerleading experience?
Cindy:
The best cheerleading experience by far is the moment the Falcons won the first home game. The dynamic in the Dome was insane! Everyone on the stands were on their feet celebrating, and I literally felt I could dance for 10 minutes straight on the side line!

Best science-related experience?
Cindy:
For one of my ISyE courses, we had to play a supply chain simulation game in groups. The simulation lasted for a week and by the end of the week each group will be rank based on how much money they earned. My group actually ended up in the first place!