Here’s Devon, a former cheerleader for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and an Information Technology specialist. She and three other Wizards cheerleaders pursuing science, math and engineering careers, will join dozens of other Science Cheerleaders for science-themed performances and science activities at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, 4/27-4/29. They will help lead our Big Cheer for Science and Engineering. You can join this cheer, too, wherever you are on Friday, 4/27 at 1:30 pm ET! Learn more about the Big Cheer here.
SciCheer: Why engineering?
Devon: My favorite older cousin bought me my first telescope when I was seven and I was obsessed with looking at the stars every night. From that point on, I knew that I had to learn more about the amazing wonders of this world.
SciCheer: What is your degree in and from where? What year did you/will you graduate?
Devon: My degree is in Information Management and Technology from Syracuse University.
SciCheer: Favorite courses you took to prepare for your degree?
Devon: favorite courses were those that promoted group work and creativity within IT. Those were the courses where you had assignments like creating a business, assessing the technology needs, deigning interfaces that supported them and finding ways to make it all as user-friendly as possible. My favorite assignments were always centered around thinking outside of the box and finding creative ways to use technology to do so.
SciCheer: Why did you tried out to be a professional cheerleader?
Devon: first dance team was my college team, the Syracuse University Dance Team. I was only a studio and competition dancer in my previous training so learning how to incorporation cheer motions in choreography was definitely a challenge for me but I love it.
After I graduated, I tried out for the Wizard Girls because I knew I had to have that feeling again. I was taking dance classes here and there but I yearned to be on the court again performing in front of fans and cheering for the home team. There is absolutely nothing like being in uniform and commanding the spotlight.
SciCheer: Please describe your day job.
Devon: I am an Electronic Health Records/Health Information Exchange Implementation Specialist. I am working on the state health information exchange for Washington DC. We are working side-by-side with Microsoft to develop a network that shares data in real time of the primary care facilities and hospitals in DC.
SciCheer: Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your professional experiences?
Devon: I usually refrain from telling people that I am a cheerleader initially. You will either get a really excited and interested response or you will get a raised eyebrow. When I do inform colleagues that I am a cheerleader they are mostly amazed by how well I balance my day-job and cheering since they are both extremely demanding. I have rarely come across someone who does not take me seriously because of cheerleading in a professional setting.
SciCheer: How do your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science/engineering?
Devon: I am so fortunate to be on a team of such intelligent and progressive women. Many of us have attended prestigious universities (including Harvard University) and are all actively chasing our professional dreams.
SciCheer: Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and following another?
Devon: The only advice that I have is to commit to anything that you choose to do. There are many people who could have been great but they gave up easily. Persistence, consistency and commitment are the only ingredients to success…in anything you choose to do.
SciCheer: Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Devon: I would say “ Hey Dev, pursue anything and everything that interests you. Before you know it you will be 25 with a bucket list!”
SciCheer: What are your plans for the future?
Devon: My plans for the future are to go into business for myself. I would like to open a dance studio one day soon.
SciCheer: Best cheerleading experience?
Devon: My best cheerleading experience was giving away gifts to families during the holidays. They were so appreciative and very encouraging.
SciCheer: Best science/engineering-related experience?
Devon: My best science experience was dissecting a baby pig during my freshman year of college biology. It was amazing to see the construction of all the organs and how amazing the body is.
SciCheer: If you could rewind the clock and change your degree, would you? If so, to what and why? If not, why not?
Devon: I would not change my major because I know that having an IT background will always look great to employers; however, my interest are constantly changing. I will probably make multiple career changes in order for me to feel complete.
SciCheer: Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
Devon: I want to be a Science Cheerleader because I think it is a wonderful organization with a great mission. Young girls should definitely have role models to remind them that they smart enough to change the world.