Meet Yalea: TN Titans cheerleader and science teacher

Greetings, all! Bart here to introduce you to another Science Cheerleader. Yalea is yet another of our amazing friends in the cheerleading and science worlds with three degrees and a great story to tell. Read on and enjoy!

Why science?
When I was in high school I had a science teacher named Mr.Fluegge and he made Biology and Advanced Placement biology so much fun that I just couldn’t wait to get there every day. From then on I knew I wanted to pursue a science degree and learn as much as possible.

What are your degrees in and from where?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, a Masters of Public Health from Walden University, and a Masters in Teaching from Belmont University.

Favorite and/or least favorite courses you took to prepare for your degree? Why?
My favorite course has to be the Human Dissection course. This is where you dissected bodies donated to science and learned every artery, bone, muscle and etc. of the human body. I just loved it because pictures don’t tell you everything and to actually see parts of the body and get a hands-on experience was amazing and extremely educational! My least favorite course that I had to take was Physics. I don’t know why, but I really struggled in that class. All other sciences I was naturally good at, but this course took a lot of work, but I did it!

Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
I cheer for the Tennessee Titans and this is my rookie year on the squad. I would always look at professional cheerleaders and aspire to be them. They were just so glamorous and always willing to lend a helping hand within their community. So last year around this time (December) I decided to get in shape, work on my dancing and try out for this great team.

Which came first, your interest in science/engineering or cheerleading?
Science!

Describe a typical day for you.
First, I get to school and get my lesson together for that day. I have 3 courses back to back then my planning period. Usually, I’m either teaching all chemistry for a day or ecology and honor’s chemistry (depending on our schedule). After, during my planning I grade papers and prepare labs for the next class period. I usually end up going to our practice facility early to run for about 30 minutes and do some weight training; then cheerleading practice for two hours. I love every minute of it!

Best part of your day job or studies?
The best part of my day is when a student says “Oh…I get it now!” For a teacher that is the greatest feeling in the world.

Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your professional experiences?
One of my students said to me, “You’re a Titans cheerleader? So then why are you teaching, aren’t cheerleaders dumb?” I had to then go into my educational background and tell them just because I like to dance and be a cheerleader doesn’t make me any less educated than I am.

How do your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science/engineering?
They all accept my science background. I think they like it because I have random little science and medical facts and they can always ask a question about that type of stuff. [Here are past interviews with other Titans/Science Cheerleaders!]

Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another?
I would tell them that you can have any hobby and still be great and successful in STEM careers. Science and math are things that are constantly evolving, learn as much as possible then show them what you’re made of on and off the field! I love proving to my students and to anyone else that not only am I smart but hey I can dance too!

Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
I would tell myself to never stop being a “science geek.”

What are your plans for the future?
Right now I want to continue teaching and then hopefully go into curriculum and policy with our district. I also am considering going to medical school to pursue my initial goal of being an anesthesiologist.

Best cheerleading experience?
Every game day when I get to run onto that field is the greatest experience in the entire world.

Best science/engineering-related experience?
Just sharing my love of science (chemistry and biology) in particular with my students, especially giving them my random fun science facts every day!

What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
When I was little I wanted to be a Broadway star (still do, actually!).

If you could rewind the clock and change your degree, would you? If so, to what and why? If not, why not?
I would never change my degree. Every experience I’ve had has been a result of it. I loved my college and graduate courses and I love teaching science and making it fun, so maybe one day they can see themselves in a science career.

Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
I want to close misconceptions about science. Science is ever evolving and we need more women to go into that field to get rid of the stereotype that we can’t do it. We as women have different ways of approaching things and in this field you can’t have enough of that. You can do what you love and still be a geek!