Hi SciCheer fans! Samantha here! I’d like to introduce you to one of the newest members of the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders, and now, a Science Cheerleader! Alexa received her Bachelors of Science in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Maryland, and a Masters of Science in Business Analytics from Arizona State University. She is now working as a product specialist for Honeywell Aerospace! Talk about reaching for the stars!
What turned you on to STEM and when?
I vividly remember being in the eighth grade and absolutely loving science class and doing my science homework. From then on I knew I would study science and hopefully make a career in a scientific field.
What is your job like at Honeywell?
I work as a product specialist at Honeywell Aerospace, a Fortune 100 company and the largest manufacturer of avionics and aircraft engines in the world. My role falls into product management, so it is a hybrid of business and technology. I support the strategy and decisions around all technical publications, which govern how maintenance is done on our aerospace products. I am responsible for all the financials around this as well – such as profit, revenue and loss. I help to protect the intellectual property of my company by ensuring our publications are available only to the correct customers. In addition, I work to ensure that our customers have access to the correct and most current publications so they meet the requirements for continued airworthiness, the laws that govern whether or not aircraft can legally fly.
Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader
I’ve been dancing since the age of 3– competitive dance studio, high school dance team, and college dance team. At a young age I set my sights on getting to the highest caliber I could in the dance/cheer world and so becoming an NFL cheerleader became a dream of mine. On top of that, I love football and being such an integral part of the game day experience by cheering on the field is an amazing feeling. The first day I walked into the Arizona Cardinals training facility I knew I was at home!
What does it mean for you to work in STEM?
In a field that is largely dominated by men, being a woman working in STEM is an amazing feeling. I am unafraid of challenges and I love being in an environment that pushes me every day. Being a woman in STEM has made me stronger in many ways and is an extremely important part of who I am.
How do the qualities that make you a great cheerleader benefit you in your STEM career?
Time management, attention to detail and confidence are some of the most valuable skills that being a dancer my entire life have taught me. Without a doubt, all of these traits carry over into my career and work life. From a very young age I learned to balance hours of dance class and practice with the demands of my education. Today, effective time management continues to be important, and allows me to do all that I do every day, such as working 40+ hour weeks at my job and then going to practice many times a week. In dance, hours are spent making sure every single count in a routine is exactly in the right place on an exact count. Every day, I apply the same attention to detail to my work. Lastly, the confidence I’ve gained through being a dancer will stay with me forever and plays an important role in the way I portray myself to others.
Best cheerleading experience?
So far the best cheerleading experience for me has been making the team and being surrounded by such strong, talented and diverse women. I’ve learned so much my teammates already and I am honored to take the field with them for the first time this fall!
Best STEM-related experience?
My best STEM related experience was when I interned for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center during my senior year of college. It was so exciting going to work every day and seeing all the amazing feats of science we have achieved as mankind. The focus of my internship was using geographic information systems and remote sensing for flood mitigation efforts in Southeast Asia. In addition, I was able to meet some of the astronauts from the International Space Station, learn about heliophysics, give a presentation at NASA headquarters and of course learn about the aerospace industry overall.
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
The best achievements in life are the ones you work really hard for! Keep going with the things that are important to you, even when you feel discouraged, whether its school, dance, cheer or anything else. One of my favorite sayings is quote by Earl Nightingale “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
I’m working towards my FAA private pilot license! I just finished pilot ground school and I’m hoping to take my exam soon. Then, I will start flight school and have to fly over 40 hours with an instructor. I’m hoping to finish all of this and have my pilot license within the next 2 years.