Sarah: Patriots Cheerleader who loves math

sarah science cheerleader patriots math economicsWe’re approaching Super Bowl Sunday, so now seemed a good time to feature some of the remarkable ladies on the Patriots cheerleading team (we’d include New York Giants, but they don’t have cheerleaders). Pleased to introduce you to Sarah, a big fan of math.

Sarah, you have a Bachelor of Arts in Honors Economics from Boston College. What were your favorite college classes?
Sarah:
Sports Economics and Econometric Theory were my favorite courses. Sports Econ was great because it combined my interest in economics, math, and sports. We learned how the professional sporting leagues handle issues such as ticket pricing and revenue sharing by looking at various statistical models. My professor used to consult with several of the major leagues and offered a real perspective into how the business of sports operates. Econometric Theory is an upper-level statistics course that taught me basic statistical modeling techniques. The two courses were very complementary. I even used the knowledge from these two courses to formulate my senior honors thesis.

Tell us about the teams you’ve cheered for, how long you’ve cheered for them, and why you tried out to be a professional cheerleader.
Sarah:
I was on the Boston College Pom Squad my senior year of college and I’m in my rookie year as a New England Patriots Cheerleader. I’ve danced ever since I can remember and it’s something I can’t imagine not being a part of my life. After college there aren’t a lot of opportunities to cheer or dance outside of professional sports, so I decided to give it a try and audition last spring. Plus, having the opportunity to cheer on one of the best teams in the NFL sounded like a thrilling experience. Confession: I stalked the Patriots Cheerleaders website for months before getting the courage to try out.
Sarah New England Patriots Cheerleader at WorkWhat’s a typical day like for you?
Sarah:
My typical day consists of calling and meeting with potential clients to discuss how our investment strategies can help them and their clients meet their investment goals. It is applied mathematics at its best. Most of the criteria used to evaluate investment options are very math based. Financial advisors, my clients, will want to know statistics about our funds such as their standard deviation (how risky they are), their historical rate of return (how much money they’ve made in the past), their Beta (how much they are correlated with the overall stock market), and their Alpha (how good of a job they do at making money without taking on additional risk). After work, I drive to Gillette Stadium a couple days a week for cheerleading practice. As a Patriots Cheerleader I also participate in numerous community and charity events after work and on weekends. Busy, busy, busy.

Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences?
Sarah:
A little bit of both. The hardest part of my job is finding potential clients willing to meet with me. Being a Patriots Cheerleader does help me get meetings and meet people, but sometimes it is a little harder for them to take my investment opinions seriously. Those willing to listen to me realize sooner or later that I do actually know what I’m talking about. It just takes some people a little longer than others.

How do your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science/engineering?
Sarah:
Very well. Many of the women on my team are also in science/engineering/math fields. We have a pharmacist, a civil engineer, a couple accountants, a couple of the ladies are pursuing careers in dentistry, just to name a few.

Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another? 
Sarah:
You can have both. Don’t let society limit your dreams. Geeks can be cool too! One of my teammates actually dressed up as a nerd for our Halloween game this year. I was definitely a nerd growing up. I would study ahead in my math textbook in middle school because I thought it was interesting. When I got to high school I tested out of Geometry and Algebra I and started taking Algebra II. I was the only freshman in the junior-level class. I got made fun of a little bit until people started asking me to help them with their homework. And now I’m an NFL Cheerleader. You can definitely have both dreams.

What are your plans for the future? 
Sarah:
In a few more years, I’d like to go back to school and get my MBA. Eventually I’d like to become a financial advisor so I can help people better invest their assets. I have all the necessary security licenses already, but I feel I have a lot more to learn before I’m ready to take on the responsibility of investing people’s life savings. And obviously, I’d like to continue my cheerleading career with the Patriots for another couple years.

Best cheerleading experience? 
Sarah:
Being at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots won the AFC Championship this year. I lost my voice for 3 days!

Best science-related experience?
Sarah:
Presenting my senior honors economics thesis. I analyzed college head football coaching compensation using a statistical model usually employed by large corporations to determine executive pay. Presenting my findings at the end of year was a rewarding experience and I was relieved my thesis was finally finished.

What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
Sarah:
I was in the marching band for 3 years in college (nerdy, I know).

If you could rewind the clock and change your degree, would you? If so, to what and why? If not, why not?
Sarah:
Because Boston College is a liberal arts school, I was also required to take many courses outside of my major. This gave me the opportunity to try out different courses of study before deciding on economics- and I’m so glad I did. My economics knowledge has allowed me to apply my math skills into a career that I enjoy.

Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
Sarah:
My niece is a freshman in high school this year. She is obsessed with cheerleading. She cheers for her junior high and is also on a competitive cheer team at her local gym. I think it’s important for girls like her to know that being a cheerleader or being popular doesn’t mean you can’t be smart too. It’s an unfortunate stereotype that I’d like to help fight.