Photo Credit: Minnesota Vikings

Hello, Science Cheerleader fans! As part of NFL Playoff season, we are interviewing some of the current professional cheerleaders who are cheering their teams in the playoffs while also pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. We’ll start with Nicole, a mental health practitioner (counselor) and member of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders (MVC) squad.

Hi, Nicole! How did you get interested in science/engineering?
I became interested in Social Sciences when I was in high school, completing my first Psychology course. I recognized the lack of assistance those struggling with mental health received and felt called to challenge the stigma that many associate with mental illness. I pursued a degree in college and have developed a passion for the field ever since.

Who had the most influence on your career choice?
My friends and family influenced my career choice greatly. They validated my interests, pointed out the character traits that I possess that would assist me in my field, and pushed me to reach my goals!

How would you describe what you do?
I have a caseload of about 20 clients that I see on a regular basis. We discuss their mental health, coping skills, barriers, relationships, and any problems that they are currently having in their lives. I assist them in reaching personal goals, avoid suicidal ideation and negative self-talk, and work to improve their overall quality of life.

How do you integrate your career with being a professional cheerleader?
Being a Mental Health Practitioner can be quite emotionally taxing. After a long day of work discussing negative and saddening situations, it is incredible to be able to go to practice with the MVC and be in an atmosphere of positivity and support. The two jobs balance each other out and allow me to practice self-care as a working professional.

What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love that I am able to make a difference in someone’s life. Whether that be through emotional support, improving mental health, or reaching a goal, I leave work feeling better about MYSELF because I am using a talent of mine to assist a client. I think it’s important to recognize your strengths and use them in your career to add intrinsic value to your life.

What’s been the best experience as an NFL cheerleader?
Being a part of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders has been an incredible experience in many ways, but more than anything, I am thankful for the people who I have met and the lifelong friendships that I have formed. The women on the team and are so hard working, supportive, and positive to be around. I am blessed to be a part of the organization.

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