It isn’t often that one word can summarize a person, but with Troy, Ill. native Whitney, one word says it all—ambitious.
At only twenty, Whitney will graduate from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) in May 2015 after only three years at the school. She will finish with at least a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, but is still considering finishing out with two majors—either in chemistry or kinesiology. Over the summer she assisted with cancer research at Washington University in St. Louis and will start working in a physiology research project focusing on neuropeptides at SIUE at the end of August. And this year, she’ll add on another after-school commitment—being a Rams cheerleader.
“I always wanted to be one of the Rams cheerleaders since I was young, but when I left for college I knew my major would be demanding and didn’t know if I’d really have the time for it,” Whitney said. “By the time I ended my sophomore year last May, I had to try. I always wanted to be one, so I decided I’m going to for it and see what happens.”
Whitney began dancing ballet and jazz at only three-years-old and continued to dance throughout high school. And despite not keeping up a consistent dance schedule during college, she made the team this year on her first try and is already relishing in her decision to “just go for it.”
“We had our first pre-season game and it was so surreal,” Whitney said. “I just stood there and looked around at everything going on and at all the players and fans. I was so taken back because I had wanted to do this, so I just stood there in awe and was repeatedly asking myself “am I really here right now?”
“I’m also a competitive person, so dancing with the team this year is really helping me come into my own and build up my courage. Dancing with the Rams requires learning a whole new way, you dance big and you dance everything. It’s not categorized the way ballet or jazz is—it’s just your our thing. For me, dance is a challenge to constantly compete with myself and become better each day.”
In addition to helping Whitney flourish as a person, becoming a Rams cheerleader has also aided her in preparing for the future.
“The Rams provided etiquette classes, training and more. They really teach you how to be a professional. Their expectations help you grow as a person, and I think I’ll be much more prepared for dental school, medical school and beyond because of my experiences here.
And with an ambitious and busy schedule, it’s no surprise that Whitney’s end goal is ambitious as well--—a career in oral maxillofacial surgery.
“I can’t see myself doing anything else,” Whitney said. “I’ve just always wanted to help people…even when I was little, my sister would fall and scrape her knee I always wanted to fix it. It has just always interested me. Ever since I was a toddler medical school has always been the plan. I guess I’m weird because I mean what three-year-old wants to be a doctor? It’s always I want to be a princess or an actress. But even now, I just feel like it would be so rewarding, and even though it’s a lot of work going through dental school and medical school, it would be well worth it because everyday you get to make a difference in someone’s life and that feeling would be so amazing.”