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. Read on to learn more about Sam, a financial analyst and member of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders (MVC) squad.

Hi, Sam! How did you get interested in science/math?
It runs in the family! Both of my parents are scientists so I’ve always had a curiosity for how the world works. In college I decided to take an intro economics course on a whim. It didn’t take long for me to discover the fun in telling stories with numbers, data sets, and models. I enjoyed the class so much that I chose economics as my major.

Who had the most influence on your career choice?
There’s not necessarily one person who influenced my choice to start my career in the field of finance. As I think about my future career goals, I’m inspired by women in economic research, specifically Esther Duflo who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. I hope to follow in her footsteps and pursue higher education in economic research and policy.

How would you describe what you do?
As a financial analyst for a medical device company, I get to blend my analytical and creative skills. I primarily work with engineers and production managers on their annual budgets and financial forecasts. Other responsibilities include performing accounting processes, calculating metrics, and presenting to leadership. The tools I use most in my work are Microsoft Excel and SAP (a computer system that helps me organize and analyze data). The coolest part about what I do is knowing that I’m playing a part in advancing technology that saves lives every day.

How do you integrate your career with being a professional cheerleader?
I’m fortunate to work for a company that values life/work balance. I manage my time so that I get my work done before leaving for practices or appearances. It’s a happy coincidence that the job of a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader often involves things that improve my health and happiness: fitness, creative outlets, community service, and a support system in my teammates. Being a cheerleader actually provides a nice balance to my day job.

What’s your favorite part about your studies/job?
I’m a people-person, so I love collaborating with others to find solutions to complex business problems.

What’s been the best experience as an NFL cheerleader?
Do I have to pick just one thing? There’s nothing like dancing – feeling so powerful and elegant – in a stadium of over 65,000 spectators. I also get to meet Vikings fans from around the country, and even around the world!

What’s one thing people would find surprising about you?
I’m a singer! I’ve been singing in choirs for as long as I can remember. In college my choral ensembles performed a mix of recent compositions and historic works spanning five centuries. I’ve been fortunate to participate in two international tours, sharing my passion for music across Europe and New Zealand.

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