Science Cheerleader Hilary here, thrilled to be back again to tell you about some of the incredible ladies leading both careers and cheers for the New England Patriots, who are in the NFL Playoffs! Read on below to find out about the amazing things these talented women are doing both on the field and in their fields!
Theresa: Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
I graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. I am currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a research associate in the laboratory of Feng Zhang. I am helping to develop a genome-editing platform by harnessing the crazy genome rearrangement pathway found in ciliated protozoa. Genome editing, or the ability to change the DNA code of human cells, allows us to further understand complicated genetic diseases such as cancer and someday could be used in therapeutics. I am currently applying to PhD programs in Biochemistry and Biophysics and I hope to continue contributing to scientific discovery throughout my career. My interest in science developed as a kid through science fair projects such as designing a seashell filter to remove lead contamination from water or harnessing wind energy with a kite power system. As a New England Patriots Cheerleader, I enjoy being engaged in the community and connecting with many different people. It has also allowed me to share my passion for science with kids and to encourage them to follow their own dreams, whatever they may be!
Jenna: Electrical Engineering
I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from UMASS Dartmouth and I am currently pursuing my Master of Science degree in Power System Management from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. During my undergraduate studies, I received an offer to work as a co-op at a regional power company, which first sparked my interest in power systems. Initially I was not sure in which direction my degree would take me, knowing that electrical engineering is such a broad field that is constantly evolving and stretches across industries from healthcare to aerospace. Through my work experiences, I became passionate about the field of power systems since it touches almost everything we do and use today. Being a cheerleader has definitely had a positive impact on both my life and engineering career because it has molded me into a driven person with great time-management skills, and it also inspired me to pursue a STEM career. When I was younger I attended a Junior Patriots Cheerleading camp and as each Patriots Cheerleader introduced themselves, there was one in particular who really impressed me and stuck out. I instantly admired her as she discussed her career in engineering, how rewarding it was to make an impact on the world, and how she balanced life as an engineer and cheerleader. She opened my eyes that a cheerleader can be more than a pretty face and that the entire Patriots Cheerleading squad is about being a talented person both on and off the field. Currently off the field, I am an electrical engineer who gauges the reliability of the power systems that keep our lights on and allow our fans to watch the New England Patriots games live on TV! Because regaining power for the public is such an important task during outages and storms, it requires me to display not only a very strong understanding of my field but also forces me to be calm and collected in a time of extreme stress. Engineering has given me a desire to inspire young girls to go after their dreams whether or not they are the only female in class. I hope to see more young girls pursuing interest in STEM careers!
Allison: Health Education
In 2013, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from Worcester State University. I currently specialize in mental health and nutrition/fitness. I help use collaborative and holistic solutions for clients who have suffered from trauma such as abuse or neglect. I also do 1:1 nutrition and wellness evaluations for clients including free fitness classes twice a week for the community of Worcester, MA. Through my skills in health education, I founded and facilitate the “I Can, I Will” fitcamps which consist of a one hour, full body workout. I firmly believe in overall wellness from emotional to physical health. My interest in wellness stemmed from my own personal health adversities. I suffered from childhood obesity and other health maladies. In the years that followed, I can happily say I lost over 40 pounds and dropped 10 jeans sizes! Being a New England Patriots Cheerleader in my second season has not only improved my overall personal development, it has taught me the value of time management, volunteerism and discipline. This upcoming year, I will be starting my master’s degree in health education and I am currently in a personal trainer certification program through ACE. My lifetime goal is to share general health care messages in an effort to prepare and empower communities to value and engage in life-long healthy, positive lifestyles.
Jennifer P.: Health Policy and Advanced Practice Nursing (NP)
I am currently in my first year of Nurse Practitioner school at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. At the end of 3 years I will obtain my Master of Nursing degree with a specialty in Adult/Geriatric Primary Care and will be able to practice as a Nurse Practitioner. I earned my undergraduate degree from Providence College in Health Policy and Management. This major opened my eyes to the complexities of our current health care system and allowed me to think critically about how I can make a difference in developing healthier communities. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I became interested in advanced practice nursing. The nursing profession is unique because the nurse takes into account a person’s entire being when creating a plan of care. Nurses work day and night to promote healthier lifestyles and form a unique bond with patients. Passion and dedication are two important values to possess when working as a nurse. These two values have also proven to be important all throughout my dancing career, which ultimately led me to the New England Patriots Cheerleading Squad. Building relationships with patients and communicating with different providers is essential to being a successful NP. The squad has only made my communication skills stronger as I continue to interact with fans in the community. Doing what you love and what you are passionate about is so important. The fact that I get to care for my community by becoming a nurse and dance on an NFL cheerleading team at the same time is truly a blessing in my life.
Melissa: Nutrition and Dietetics
In May of 2016, I graduated from the University of New Haven with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. I also received a minor in Psychology to help expand my knowledge of human interaction and overall brain function. My undergraduate program was heavily based on the clinical side of nutrition, which boosted my excitement to work in the medical field even more than before. I am now pursuing a Master of Science degree in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in Nutrition and Fitness at Northeastern University. Once that is completed, my ultimate goal is to become a Registered Dietitian. With the education that I have developed over the past several years, I have been engaging in nutritional counseling with friends, family, and anyone who reaches out to me. This involves calculating body mass index, macronutrient needs, etc. It also includes providing meal plan suggestions based on their current information and overall goals. In the future, I hope to open my own private practice offering nutritional counseling to people. I would love for this to include but not be limited to inpatients, outpatients, and people just looking to improve their current health status. Cheerleading and dancing have both contributed greatly to my passion for nutrition because staying healthy and motivated is extremely important when practicing and performing. Taking care of the body and providing it with proper nutrients are key for maximizing your success, whether you are performing on a football field or working hard at the office.
Below is a list of the other science-minded cheerleaders on the Patriots squad whom we did not get a chance to interview.
You can learn about other Patriots cheerleaders we’ve interviewed over the years by visiting their team page.
All photography credits are to Robert Hare.