Melanie: Former Indiana Pacers Cheerleader studying meteorology

Greetings, Science Cheerleader fans! In first grade Melanie was pretending to be a meteorologist. Now, she’s earning her meteorology degree at Mississippi State. Oh, and she cheered for the Indiana Pacers for eight years. She’s the latest superstar in our series featuring professional cheerleaders and athletes who are pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.Check this out.

Melanie Indiana Pacers Science Cheerleader at WorkYou’re pursuing a meteorology degree at Mississippi State University. What got you interested in that subject?
Since I was young, the weather has always fascinated me and science and math were always my best subjects in school. I can remember to this day starting to obsess over the weather when I was in 1st grade. My friends and I would always put on pretend news shows and I was always the meteorologist! When I was older, I shadowed a local meteorologist in Indianapolis for a day and immediately got hooked. He informed me of Mississippi State University’s Broadcast Meteorology program. He had told me that he and other local meteorologists got their degree from that University and how amazing the program was.

Favorite courses?
I am excited to be taking the course called Severe Weather and Weather Prediction this fall. I love when it thunderstorms and probably wouldn’t mind shadowing a storm chaser for day to see the excitement!!

Melanie Indiana Pacers Science Cheerleader at Weather Station

You cheered for the Indiana Pacers for eight years. Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
I have been dancing for 26 years. After living in LA and moving back to Indiana, I wanted to continue performing. That’s when I looked into trying out for the Indiana Pacers Pacemates. I also wanted to give back to the community and the Pacemates do that through programs like “Read to Achieve” where we would read to elementary school students to help foster a love of reading.

Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders help or hinder your career ambitions?
I’ve heard of the typical stereotyping that people sometimes associate with cheerleaders, but I’ve been fortunate enough not to have ever experienced it. We were always admired and treated with respect. We all were in college or graduated from college.

Best cheerleading experience?
My best cheerleading experience would have to be the time went overseas to London, Norway, and Iceland to visit and perform for our troops. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience! It was great to give back to the men and women who serve our country!

Best science-related experience?
While I was in Iceland I got to see the aurora borealis (or what is also called the Northern Lights). It was absolutely breathtaking!

Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another?
I believe you can go for it all! I was able to cheer for 8 years and study the weather. Once I get my degree I will still be dancing on the side. I will still fulfill my love for dance even when I become a meteorologist.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to have a big family and be a meteorologist on the local news. I also plan to open my own dance competition in the future!

Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
I want to be a Science Cheerleader because I want to be able to reach out and inspire young girls. I want to be able to encourage young girls that you can be a cheerleader and be extremely smart at the same time. When I found what a Science Cheerleader was, I wanted to be part of it!!