Friday, January 09, 2009

Tennessee Titans Cheerleader Shatters Stereotypes 

Posted by James at 6:00 AM ET

Grad Student Also Works As Neuroscience Researcher

By Terry Bulger

A Titans Cheerleader is a Vanderbilt University graduate student who is shattering stereotypes while performing live in front of 70,000 football fans.

Trained as a classical ballerinist, Melissa loves the energy and excitement that comes with performing live in front of a large crowd.

But when she's not performing on Sundays, she's busy working in a science lab as a full-time molecular neuroscience researcher while working toward a career in medicine.

Melissa enjoys touchdowns and field goals almost as much as beakers, labs and learning about disorders of the brain. Among the things she studies is schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and Parkinson's disease.

Melissa Titans Cheerladers

"Generally yes, people are a little bit surprised (by my career,)" she said.

Melissa said other cheerleaders that she knows also have successful careers in advertising, law and teaching.

"We kind of are trying one-by-one to kind of break that stereotype and hope people can realize that just because you like to dance and like to cheer and you're a performer and you're a beautiful girl, that doesn't mean that you're just a beautiful girl on the outside. We do have good qualities, and we're smart, intelligent people," said Melissa.

Watch a video of this report here.

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