Perhaps one of the worst myths ever is that cheerleaders are airheads (how did this stereotype originate anyway?). The myth has been perpetuated in film and on TV for decades – cheerleaders are dumb, cheerleaders are ditzy, cheerleaders are shallow. Saying this is just as bad as saying cheerleaders aren’t athletes. Cheerleaders are no different than a soccer player or theater student. They go to class, do homework, practice after school, and wear cheer uniforms while performing at events. In high school, many cheerleaders take honors classes and give back to their community. In fact, most schools require that cheerleaders maintain a certain grade point average in order to remain on the squad. Like any other student, they graduate and many continue on to college and successful careers. There are plenty of examples of successful men and women in the world who used to be cheerleaders. Science Cheerleader is perhaps the ultimate proof that cheerleaders aren’t airheads. Started by former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader Darlene Cavalier, the organization is made up of current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who work in or are pursuing careers in science or engineering. Challenging the stereotypes with which cheerleaders are all too familiar, members of Science Cheerleader encourage women to engage in research projects, pursue science careers, and promote science in the community. Since its inception in 2006, Science Cheerleader has helped launch the Philadelphia Science Festival, teach science through cheers, mentor students, guest lectures, and, of course, cheer and perform at science festivals, like this one: Cheerleaders don’t just become scientists or engineers, either. They become successful businesspeople, actors, and political figures. Take a look at a few famous figures in America that all used to be cheerleaders: 1) Cindy Villarreal has cheered for the Dallas Cowboys, and went on to be the founder and CEO of Cheer Channel, Inc., the network that produces the beloved web series, Secret Diary of An American Cheerleader. Cindy is also a published author. 2) Not too long ago, actress Dakota Fanning was cheering for her high school. Now, she’s attending the prestigious New York . 3) Before becoming respected broadcast journalists, Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer were cheerleaders at their respective high schools. 4) The Ivy League graduate and award-winning actress Meryl Streep was a cheerleader at Bernards High School in New Jersey. 5) Several political figures were cheerleaders back in the day. Former president Franklin D. Roosevelt was a cheerleader at Harvard . Former US Senator Trent Lott was a college cheerleader for Ole Miss. US Senator of Mississippi Thad Cochran was also a former of Mississippi cheerleader. Former president Ronald Reagan was a cheerleader at Eureka College. Also, George W. Bush was a cheerleader at Phillips Academy. All of these former cheerleaders went to college and have successful careers! The myth that cheerleaders are airheads is a hard insult to ignore. Over time, we can only hope that society starts to see that cheerleaders are like any other person! They can cheer, wave pom poms, and be intelligent and successful. Has your intelligence ever been insulted just because you’re a cheerleader? What are your tips for beating the myth? Comment and share with us!