Former Atlanta Hawks Cheerleader and Computer Engineer brings Citizen Science to Atlanta

Christina used to be a cheerleader for the NBA Atlanta Hawks. Now she’s a software consultant at Manhattan Associates where she helps Nike optimize their supply chain. She has a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech.

At noon on March 25, Christina will be joining our pals from SciStarter and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta  at the Atlanta Science Festival Expo . They’ll help you learn how to collect important cloud data for NASA. You are invited to join us!

Here’s more information about Christina:

What turned you on to STEM and when?
It was always just assumed in my family that I would go into a STEM field. My dad promoted mathematics from a young age always making sure to play games with us on an abacus. My sister and I always thought learning was fun, and my parents never led us to believe we couldn’t do or be anything we worked for.

What’s your day job like?
I help Nike deliver your tennis shoes or your running shorts to your house when you order them. I make sure it’s the right product in the right place at the right time for the right price.

Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
I grew up a ballerina, and when I went to college, there really wasn’t any dance on campus that I was interested in doing. I went to the audition to meet people and get acquainted with the dance industry in Atlanta. I was thrilled to make the team and be allowed to meet such empowered women.

What does it mean for you to be an engineer?
The ballet studio I grew up dancing at was relatively new. It was expected that I would go to college for dance, and while I would have loved to dance professionally out of college, I chose to go to Georgia Tech. Other girls who I used to mentor and teach at the ballet studio are now attending Georgia Tech, and they see that they can work hard in school while maintaining their love for dance. It means so much to me when their parents tell me that I’ve shown them how to do both.

How do the qualities that made you a great cheerleader benefit you in your STEM career?
I don’t think there is any way to earn an engineering degree without persistent hard work. The same can be said for cheerleading. There is always room for improvement, there will always be constructive criticism, and there is always a more efficient or effective way to do things. That’s what drives my whole life and why I have felt success in both dancing and my career.

How do you feel about breaking down negative stereotypes about cheerleaders?
I have loved breaking down these stereotypes. They are fueling my fire to do more and push further in both fields. I have faced situations in previous workplaces where I only got the job because cheerleading was on my resume, and the hiring team was a team of men. I have also been in situations where I don’t feel comfortable disclosing my cheerleading experience because my work may be scrutinized more closely. Sometimes I welcome the challenge and sometimes it can be exhausting, but it’s real. I love being a part of something so much bigger than me.

Best cheerleading experience?
The team of cheerleaders and our interactions with fans in the community. I still communicate with a network of avid Hawks fans who’s families have made my time with the Atlanta Hawks so special.

Best STEM-related experience?
I enjoyed working with my senior design team my last semester of college on a schedule optimization project for Janssen Pharmaceutica.

What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
If someone calls you a nerd, you’re probably doing something right.

What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
I was in marching band in high school, and I played percussion.