Meet Brooke, our latest Science Cheerleader who cheers/dances for the NBA Charlotte Bobcats AND works full time as a chemical engineer.
Brooke: I’ve always had a love for science, but I fell in love with chemistry during high school thanks to my wonderful chemistry teacher, David Vernon. His enthusiasm and knowledge on the subject matter were unsurpassed! He made chemistry relevant and fun to learn!!
What is your degree in and from where?
Brooke: Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. I graduated from North Carolina State University. Go Wolfpack!!
Favorite and/or least favorite courses you took to prepare for your degree?
Brooke: Favorites: Analytical Chemistry because it was easy for me to understand and apply the concepts that I learned. Also, Biochemistry because it dealt with things related to how the human body works, like proteins, lipids, fatty acids, etc. My least favorites would probably be all of the Math courses (and yes there were tons of them LOL) because I’m just not a big fan of math.
Why you tried out to be a professional cheerleader?
Brooke: I currently dance for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats as a “Ladycat.” This is my second season on the team. I decided to try out because I love cheering/dance and I love the style of dance that my coach teaches!! Being a part of my team gives me a chance to completely let my hair down and dance my heart out. My day job can be very stressful and technical, so dancing as a Ladycat allows me to turn on my “Sasha Fierce” side by relaxing, performing, and having fun!! I’ve had so many amazing opportunities because of it!
Which came first, your interest in science/engineering or cheerleading?
Brooke: My interest in science came first! The importance of education and learning was instilled in me at an early age thanks to my parents. I can still remember attending summer science camps as a kid. And yes, I was the girl wearing glasses, sitting in the front row! 🙂 I was a complete tomboy when I was younger, so my cheerleading interest definitely came much later.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Brooke: My typical day involves writing protocols, documents, and reports, while also monitoring the cleaning activities taking place as different pharmaceutical products (softgels, chewels, etc.) are being made. Basically, I’m responsible for making sure that we use good cleaning procedures so that our drugs are safe for people to use. After work I head to the Time Warner Cable Arena (aka my second home 🙂 ) for practice or for our games. Game days are always super exciting because we arrive at the arena early, do our hair/makeup, run through a quick rehearsal on the court, meet & greet our fans before the game starts, and perform the entire time!!
Best part of your day job or studies?
Brooke: The best part of my day job is when I complete all of my different tasks. I have a “type A” personality, which means I’m a perfectionist, so I get excited when I cross things off of my “To do” lists!
Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered you?
Brooke: I don’t think stereotypes have hindered my professional experiences at all! I think people are often surprised to learn that I dance professionally because it’s so extremely different from my day job, but my colleagues always treat me with respect.
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Brooke: I would tell my 12-year-old self that it is absolutely okay to be smart and have interests in science and things considered different or “geeky”. Never sell yourself short and always, always pursue your dreams and passions! Embrace your love for academics and allow it to help set you apart.
What are your plans for the future?
Brooke: I’m really happy with where my career in science has taken me! I would like to continue to work as an engineer in the pharmaceutical industry and also balance that with my passion for dance. I would eventually love to start my own business, so I’m excited and curious to see what different opportunities I can explore.
Best cheerleading experience?
Brooke: This summer I had the most amazing opportunity to travel to Milan, Italy to represent the Charlotte Bobcats!!! Me and 5 of my teammates were selected by the NBA to participate in the 5United Tour. We got the opportunity to meet and interact with tons of fans, tour the beautiful architecture/buildings in Milan, and of course eat tons of delicious Italian foods. Ciao!!
Best science/engineering-related experience?
Brooke: While working as a chemist in the cosmetic industry, I got to test and use some of the different samples and products. We made tons of body washes, face scrubs, lotions, shampoo, facial creams, and makeup so it was pretty exciting!
What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
Brooke: I’m a vegetarian! Well actually I’m a “pescetarian” which means that I also eat fish/seafood.
If you could rewind the clock and change your degree, would you?
Brooke: I definitely would NOT have changed my degree. I like Chemistry and I enjoyed learning about it!
Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
Brooke: I think that this is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and inspire so many young girls! It is so important for us to encourage and show them that they can pursue a technical career like science/engineering and also pursue a more artistic dream like dancing. I really admire and support the initiative that being a Science Cheerleader entails. Thank you for this amazing opportunity to help inspire, encourage, and change the lives of our young women!