Jennifer: from the Falcons’ football field to the medical field.

Jennifer NFL Atlanta Falcons Science CheerleaderJennifer, you cheered for the Atlanta Falcons. Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
I cheered for the Falcons in 2009. I had danced since the age of 3, so my love for performing combined with my passion for community outreach is what led me to audition.

What got you into science?
I believe my love for science as well as health care really began in high school. I enrolled in a health occupations class not really knowing what to expect…the course mission was to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. Each class was something new; autoclaving, CPR, wrapping splints, working health fairs, you name it. I was hooked! Throughout my college years I volunteered at multiple inpatient and outpatient health care facilities as well as shadowed various health care providers which solidified my decision to becoming a physician assistant (PA). I appreciated their autonomy, flexibility, and passion for what they do.

Jennifer NFL Atlanta Falcons Science Cheerleader at Work What is Physician Assistant?
We are educated in a broad-based medical curriculum, allowing our role to be adaptable. This gives us the opportunity to practice in any specialty while working under the supervision of a physician. PAs perform physical examinations, develop diagnoses and treatment regimens, order and interpret laboratory findings, perform procedures, assist in surgeries, counsel and educate patients, as well as round in hospitals.

Best part of your studies?
I just began my clinical clerkships and love it! Every 5 weeks I rotate sites in different areas of medicine. Each rotation is an intense, supervised, hands-on learning experience. Classroom knowledge is now used to make clinical decisions based on real patient presentations. It is incredible! 

Do your fellow cheerleaders accept your interest in science?
Absolutely! Sometimes I would get to practice early to study and certain girls would offer to quiz me on the material! 🙂

Do you find that stereotypes about cheerleaders helped or hindered your studies?
Stereotypes unfortunately exist, however pushing those aside, not letting them affect you is key. I have found many people are unaware that an interview counts for 50% of your total score when auditioning, in part because we are ambassadors to the Falcons organization through our community involvement. We were required to have a full-time job or be in school. Amongst my fellow cheerleaders were chemists, school counselors, registered nurses, an attorney, teachers, financial analysts, mothers, dance studio owners, the list goes on! My friends, classmates and colleagues were always supportive with cheerleading.

Best cheerleading experience?
My most memorable experience was at my first game cheering for the Atlanta Falcons. It was getting to run through what we call “Player Tunnel.” The music is extremely loud, fans screaming, the energy was just so amazing! 

Best science-related experience?
Best experience was probably completing my first FULL history and physical examination on a REAL patient (not my fellow classmates) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

Do you have any advice for youngsters who might feel torn between following one dream and another?
DO BOTH! With hard work comes success, so follow your heart and stay true to yourself.

What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
I was on America’s Got Talent!

What are your plans for the future?
Currently to continue community outreach in addition to growing as a health care provider.  Eventually I would like to practice medicine abroad.

Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
Because medicine is such an important part of my life, I want to encourage youth to consider careers in science! It is challenging yet rewarding and anyone can do it!

  • Kschultz

    Please update: Proper terminology is “Physician Assistant”…not “physicians assistant or physician’s assistant”. 

  • Yes, we have. Thank you!

  • MedicMan

    I’m happy you “got in”, but do you understand the history of the PA beginnings? I rarely see any former medics who served in Afghan or Iraq get in to current programs. I’m sure its because of the BS requirement. Hell, I wouldn’t be able to get into school now based on my experience in the 70’s. This WAS the reason for the PA profession.

  • Alan

    As a PA, a falcon fan, a national guardsmen I’m very happy to see you choosing to further your education and join the ranks! Most importantly, you serve as a role model to young ladies such as my daughter who’s dreams are indeed to DO both!
    MedicMan, this is an evolving career field and I’ve seen individuals come from a variety of backgrounds (cheerleading does not shock me in the least); medics that are getting out or staying in have the same opportunity as this young lady. No more or less. If anything they are better prepared to be a PA, but that does not mean the title is automatically given!

  • Jennifer

    Hi MedicMan,
    thank you so much for writing.

    I am glad
    that you mentioned the history of the PA profession; it is important for anyone
    interested in becoming a PA to be aware of how the profession began as well
    their roles in healthcare. It was a frequently asked question during my PA
    interviews as well as integrated into our ethics course.

    I completely
    agree with you that more medics should enroll in PA programs. While a bachelor’s
    degree is a requirement for most, the following link includes all certified
    programs in the US that do not http://www.paeaonline.org/index.php?ht=d/ContentDir/pid/255.
    Although I am not familiar with the process, I believe interservice programs also
    exist that allow you to obtain your degree while serving. One of my colleagues served
    prior to beginning PA school and two others recently became commissioned officers
    in the army national guard and air force. I am extremely proud of them.

  • Jennifer

    Alan, thank
    you so much for the thoughtful response.

    One of my first
    and most memorable appearances while cheering for the Atlanta Falcons was at a
    military base in Georgia. We worked with the army national guard, it was
    incredible!

    It is wonderful
    to hear that your daughter wishes to do both because she absolutely can!

    Thanks again
    Alan, Go Falcons! J

  • Matty Ice

    Wow!  Great and inspiring article!  Great to see other cheerleaders breaking stereotypes and doing such awesome things 🙂

  • Thanks so much!

  • What a wonderful story! I can’t wait to share it with my girls at the start of the season. 
        I have a very academic team,made up of several very shy girls who started cheering to help them build confidence.
       We also have a few skeptical, who seem to be stuck in the stigma that cheerleaders are not serious athletes, and the sport won’t lead you anywhere. Thanks for being such a positive role model for little girls out there and keep up the good work!
    Jennie
    Cape Cod

  • Jennifer

    Jennie,

    Thank you so much, it is wonderful to hear comments like this! I am happy that your girls have decided to cheer to help them with their confidence. Dance and cheerleading definitely helped myself as well as some of my closest friends; we still share the memories of our times spent together on the field, practice, and camp. Good luck this season and thank you again!

    Jennifer

  • Sydney Viveiros

    Hi Jennifer, My name is Sydney V. and I have been a Pop Warner Little Scholar for the past six years. I am a cheerleader for the Fairhaven Blue Devils located in Fairhaven, MA. I was wondering if you could stop by one of our practices this season and encourage the other girls on my team how important it is to do your best in school and on the cheer mat. I am seriously considering the Dentistry Field and want to become an Orthodontist. You may reach me at svivvy4@comcast.net. Thank you!!!!!!!!

  • Jennifer

    Hi Sydney! Thank you so much for taking the time to write! That is amazing that you have been involved with Pop Warner for 6 years; it shows not only your dedication in the classroom but also your athleticism. It is wonderful to hear that you are considering becoming an orthodontist. Continue to encourage your teammates that anything is truly possible with hard work and determination! I am sending you a personal email shortly regarding appearances.
    Good luck this season Sydney! 🙂