Meet Aleria: Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader Who Loves Data!

Hi SciCheer fans, Samantha here! The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders are winning on and off the field! Meet Aleria, a four-year cheer veteran who loves data. Maybe she will use those analytics skills to predict the Super Bowl!

What are you studying?

I am currently a Master of Science in Analytics candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I had a lot of exposure to STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] during my undergraduate years at Georgia Tech, and my father has an engineering degree, but I was not interested in STEM until recently. After getting my Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech, I was hired as a marketing coordinator. Almost immediately, I saw the necessity for a more data-centric approach to consumer segmentation. My employer hired third-party firms to aggregate and analyze information about our target consumer, and I was tasked with creating and localizing programs that appealed to this target. This was my first exposure to marketing intelligence and big data and its usefulness to decision making and market analysis. I realized then that I was interested in being on the other side – using objective data to spot consumer trends and strategic business strategies. Technology, used in this way, would be increasingly important to the customer experience, marketing, and decision making. I started seeing technology not as a separate field in which to specialize, but as a useful tool and an integral part of any business. Knowing that there were so many applications really interested me and made me want to pursue a career that integrated technology.

What do you hope to do in the future?

In 2019,  I will get my MBA and focus on e-commerce or marketing analytics. It is my eventual goal to create and market adaptive products to consumers based on their preferences. With big data and technology being so pervasive in business as well as our personal lives, I want to help create better consumer and brand interaction. I am preparing for a career in business that understands and uses information/data driven business models.

What connection between cheerleading and STEM have you found?

Being a cheerleader, as well as years of being involved with team sports, taught me a few things that I believe have helped me professionally and academically. The first is preparedness. Always striving to be prepared and flexible, whether it’s for practice or a team meeting, has helped me make sure that I can handle anything that is thrown at me.  Sometimes, we have to perfect a dance in one practice or change a formation at the last minute, so we have to be on top of the choreography and go with the changes. Likewise, graduate school is filled with last-minute deadlines and adjustments, so it helps to try to always be on top of things. Determination is one of the most important connections to me because achievement is never a straight line. There will always be roadblocks to any goal that you have, but you have to decide to see it through. Another connection is teamwork. Frequently in business, you have to work as a team to accomplish an objective. You win as a team and lose as a team. Realizing that my best chance of success was putting my best foot forward and working well with others has helped me professionally because I am able to work effectively toward a common goal. On a team of 36 women with 36 different personalities, being able to work with everyone is definitely a necessity!

How do you feel about challenging stereotypes of STEM women and professional cheerleaders?

It feels great, and I am very proud to help challenge them. When I was younger and had career goals and aspirations, I always had someone I could look up to in that role. So for me, representation is very important, especially considering how underrepresented women are in tech fields. In my experience, cheerleading squads consist of intelligent, professional women who love to perform and who care about their communities. Unfortunately, there are many negative stereotypes about cheerleaders. I love being able to show people that there is so much more to us than is commonly thought and that you can pursue extracurricular activities that you love while excelling in your chosen field.