The 19-person co-ed team—a mix of graduate and undergraduate students—is a fixture at varsity football and basketball games, occasionally cheers for men's and women's rugby and men's crew, and is a regular participant in cheerleading competitions. [Watch some of the team's cheers—including one dedicated to the International Space Station.]
The team was recently profiled on Science Cheerleader (www.sciencecheerleader.com), a website that encourages young cheerleaders to consider careers in science and technology and features professional cheerleaders pursuing careers in those fields. According to the website, more than 200 current and former professional cheerleaders have careers in science and engineering, including Rachel Peterson '09, a cheerleader for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and a chemical engineer at Tesla Motors.
Science and cheerleading might seem like a dichotomy—a misconception that the team is working to dispel. On Science Cheerleader, co-captain Danielle Olson wrote about the team's unique place on a campus that is unfairly stereotyped as "socially awkward, nerdy, and generally atypical of what is considered mainstream."
From “We ARE Science Cheerleaders!”:The 2013 national championship, which will feature more than 100 other schools, will be held on April 10-14 and televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.
"It is interesting to see the reactions of people who would never expect someone like me or my fellow cheerleaders to go to a school like MIT, or to be studying engineering. I take pleasure in being an ambassador of changing the stereotypes of what it means to be an engineer, especially as a young woman of color, and also as a cheerleader."
As a club sport, cheerleading is a student-run organization and relies on donations from the MIT community to help provide uniforms, travel, competition fees, and other expenses. Donations to the team can be made through a specific designation at MIT Giving or the team’s GoFundMe Page.
Slice will monitor the squad’s progress and report back after the competition. Good luck, MIT Cheerleading!