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Student Life: The Word is Fight, Fight, Fight (and Care) for Iowa!

Jessica Carroll

Like most college students, Jessica Carroll is busy … really busy. As a UI cheerleader and full-time BSN student, her time management skills are put to the test on a daily basis.

“Jessica is a great example of a student athlete who manages our rigorous curriculum while maintaining an active campus life,” said Ellen Cram, PhD, RN, assistant dean for undergraduate programs.

Jessica recently took time out of her hectic schedule to talk about life as a student athlete, what sparked her interest in nursing, and her thoughts on continuing education as well as where she thinks her career path might lead.

Where are you from?
I currently reside in Iowa City, but I am from Orland Park, Illinois, which is about 30 minutes south of Chicago.

When (and why) did you decide you wanted to go into nursing?
I’ve always known I wanted to do something in the medical field. I did not want to go to medical school, but I did like the idea of helping people and working in a hospital. I decided to try nursing, and I've never turned back.

When did you begin UI’s BSN program, and when do you expect to graduate?
I began the nursing program as an incoming freshman in the fall of 2009 and I will graduate in May 2013.

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your BSN?
I chose Iowa because I made the cheerleading team here, and I was accepted into the early admit program coming out of high school. This meant that out of all the freshmen applicants who put down nursing as their area of interest, I was one of only 20 students selected to be directly admitted. The combination of these two factors made my decision pretty clear.

How would you describe your educational experience at UI?
The BSN program at Iowa is very challenging. The courses are hard, the material is complex, and the workload can at times be overwhelming. The saving grace of the College of Nursing is the faculty and staff. The advisors and instructors are all incredible. They push you to learn, but they are all very focused on helping each of us individually. The educational experience for each student is very personal and individualized. There are countless resources available to us, and the learning facilities and labs enhance the learning process.

Are there any particular areas of the nursing profession that have piqued your interest?
I am very open to the area of nursing I would like to work in. Once I graduate I would like to work in any ICU or medical/surgical unit to gain as much experience as I can.

Do you see yourself wanting to further your education and go for a graduate degree?
I am leaning toward working for a few years, to gain some experience, and then returning to school to become a nurse anesthetist.

How long have you been a cheerleader?
Since fifth grade

Describe how you manage your time/workload during an average week? (e.g., juggling cheer, your studies, and the rest of what life throws your way)
During the fall semester, we practice two hours a day, Monday through Friday, and we have weight lifting twice a week with our strength and conditioning coaches. During football season, we perform at events all day every Saturday. We attend all the home volleyball games as well.

During the spring semester we continue to practice and lift, but we also attend all the home men's basketball games, women's basketball games, and wrestling meets. We are also involved in a lot of community events throughout the entire year. Between all of this and school work, there is not much time for anything else. I have learned the importance of managing my time effectively and avoiding procrastination. These skills have helped me to excel at multitasking.  

You recently appeared on KCRG. What was the nature of that interview?
It discussed my opinion of whether or not cheerleading should be considered a sport. 

Title IX is a federal law that requires any collegiate athletic department to provide equal opportunities to men and women athletes. This means that for every male varsity sport participant at a particular school, the athletic department must maintain an equal number of female varsity sport participants. Recently, there was an issue at another school where the athletic department decided to discontinue the women's volleyball program, and replace it with a competitive cheerleading team because it would take less of a hit on their budget. The volleyball coach then sued the school saying that cheerleading could not replace volleyball because cheerleading is not a sport and therefore would not meet the Title IX requirements. The case went to the Circuit Court of Appeals where it was found that competitive cheerleading does not yet meet the standards of a varsity sport (under Title IX).

The interview I participated in discussed this case and my opinion on the decision as a collegiate cheerleader. At the University of Iowa, our duty as a cheerleading squad is primarily to cheer on the other teams, create an exciting game atmosphere, and to act as ambassadors for the university out in the community. We do compete at the UCA Nationals competition, but that is not our primary focus. So in that sense, no we are not considered a sport at this university; however, I would challenge anyone who claims we are not athletes. Just look at what our schedule is like in an average week (elaborated in greater detail above). We are constantly practicing and working out. Collegiate cheerleading is very physically demanding, and we must remain in peak condition to be able to perform at the level we are expected to. In my opinion, we are definitely athletes.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests you’d like to mention?
The amount of time I devote to cheerleading and school does not really leave much time for anything else. During the summers though, I do enjoy crafts and scrapbooking.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself either working in a hospital, or possibly going back to school to further my education.

Posted On: 
Nov 19th, 2012