Howdy! The San Francisco 49ers have a brainy cheerleading squad. Please give your attention to Christi, who’s got a psychology degree and is working on her next step: teaching and getting a master’s degree!
What turned you on to science and when?
Christi: I took a General Psychology course my first year of college and I was absolutely intrigued. Psychology helped me to understand how individuals interacted with each other and their environment. It opened up my mind to new ways of thinking and made me want to learn more. As a first year college student I wasn’t sure which career I wanted to pursue, but I knew that Psychology interested me more than any subject had in the past. After a few more courses I decided to make it my major and I thoroughly enjoyed every course it included.
What is your degree in and from where? What year did you graduate?
Christi: I graduated from San Jose State University, in 2008, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Favorite and/or least favorite courses you took to prepare for your degree? Why?
Christi: My favorite course that I took was Child Psychology. I have always had a passion for children. This course helped me to better understand their thought process and capacity for learning at different ages. Child Psychology is essential in educating children and has been very helpful in my day to day job.
What teams did you cheer for, how long did you cheer for them, and why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
Christi: I was a cheerleader for the Golden State Warriors for two seasons and recently finished my first season cheering for the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush. Being a professional cheerleader has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. When I was a child my cousin and I used to sit at my grandparents’ house looking at pictures of the Gold Rush. We would pick our favorite cheerleaders and then pretend to be them as we performed for our family. I was raised a 49ers fan so my family couldn’t be prouder to see me on the field this season.
Which came first, your interest in science or cheerleading?
Christi: I would have to say that science and cheerleading have played pretty equal roles in my life. I started dancing at a very young age and fell in love with it. I dreamed about some day doing it professionally but wasn’t sure it was a practical dream. Fortunately, I was also very interested in school. When I wasn’t dancing I had my nose buried in a book and was very serious about my studies. Having this combination in my life provided me with a lot of opportunities and experiences that made me the woman I am today.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Christi: During the week I work at an elementary school as a Teacher’s Aide and Office Assistant. I work with children from 4-10 years old when they need extra help in class or out on the playground. I am very close with the children and families at my school which makes it a joy to go to work every day. I am also a nanny for one of the families at my school. On Saturdays I have a six hour practice with Gold Rush. We have ladies on the team from all around Northern California so the once a week practice makes it possible for them to attend. Six hours seemed long at first but we’re so busy that the time flies by. We all look forward to seeing each other every Saturday and catching up on our weeks. Sundays are either lazy days or game days, neither of which I could live without!
Best part of your day job or studies?
Christi: The best part of my day is spending time with my students. When I get to work it doesn’t matter what is going on in my outside life because the kids make everything better. It is so rewarding to see them grasping new concepts and realizing their potential. I have a smile on my face whenever they’re around and I am so grateful that I get to work with them every day.
Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies or professional experiences?
Christi: I do not allow stereotypes to hinder my life. Instead, I use cheerleading as a platform to show young women that they can be anything that they set their mind on. Cheerleaders may be viewed as just pretty faces but they are so much more. Being a cheerleader takes commitment, endurance and beauty, inside and out. They are constantly working in the community as a representative of their team and become well-rounded individuals through these experiences. I am proud to be a cheerleader and strive to break down any stereotypes that remain.
Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another?
Christi: You can be anything that you want to be. It may be not be an easy road but as long as you stay focused on your goals and work hard to achieve them, anything is possible.
Along these lines, what advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Christi: I am very fortunate to work with many young women and I constantly push them to follow their dreams and pursue anything that interests them. It is easy for children to get categorized into stereotypes and I fight hard to break down those walls. I want them to know that they can be an intellect, a cheerleader, an athlete or anything they wish.
What are your plans for the future?
Christi: In the future I want to return to school to obtain my teaching credential and a Master’s degree in Child Development. My Psychology degree has been very helpful in my career but I want to now focus on teaching.
Best cheerleading experience?
Christi: Cheering on the San Francisco 49ers during the playoffs this season was the best cheerleading experience of my life. The energy in Candlestick Park was indescribable and will stay with me forever. I was beyond proud to be cheering for the best team and fans in the NFL!
What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
Christi: Growing up I was a member of 4H, a youth development program focused on leadership, citizenship and life skills. What tends to surprise people is that while a member I raised horses, sheep and pigs. Owning livestock in San Jose isn’t a very typical occurrence but it taught me so much and my friends loved coming over to the “farm”.
If you could rewind the clock and change your degree, would you? If so, to what and why? If not, why not?
Christi: I am very happy with my degree choice and if given the chance would do it again. I feel like Psychology not only helps me in my career but in my everyday life as well. I do, however, plan on returning to school to obtain my teaching credential and a Master’s degree in Child Development. I love working with children and want to continue my education in this field.
Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
Christi: I want to be a Science Cheerleader to help break the stereotypical idea of what it means to be a cheerleader. Women need to know that they can be anything, or any combination of things, that they want to be. As a member of the 49ers Gold Rush I have had the opportunity to meet 31 of the most intelligent, well rounded and beautiful ladies that I have ever known. They inspire me to be the best I can be and I can only hope to do the same for others.