My name is Ashley McNeil. I am a sophomore from San Antonio, Texas where I graduated from Tom C. Clark High School—Go Cougars! At SMU I am pursuing a major in mechanical engineering with premedical specialization and a minor in chemistry. I am also a member of the SMU President’s Scholar program, the Chi Omega sorority and the SMU red cheerleading squad.
I tried out for SMU Cheer in the spring of my senior year of high school. Cheerleading was something that I wanted to continue in college; and while it was important to me, I did not want to base my decision solely on the strength of the university’s cheerleading program. SMU was the perfect choice because it offered an intimate undergraduate experience, a world-class engineering school and a nationally-ranked cheerleading program.
My cheerleading squad practices Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for a total of eight hours per week. We average an additional eight hours each week cheering at games and participating in other appearances and events throughout the fall. The spring semester consists of more appearances, basketball games, extra practices and traveling to regional competitions as we prepare for Collegiate Nationals in April. I have been honored to represent SMU cheering at away football games in College Station, Fort Worth, Houston, New Orleans and Orlando, as well as competing in Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida last spring where we took second place!
However, my top priority, and where I spend most of my time, is in my engineering and pre-med classes and labs. I really appreciate having approachable professors who are interested in their students. The ME/pre-med major was especially attractive to me because it allows students to earn an engineering degree while meeting the admission requirements for medical school. SMU also accepted my dual-credit and AP credit hours, so I will have no problem completing it in eight semesters and squeezing in a study abroad summer program in Oxford.
Finally, the relationships I have made on campus—in my sorority, and with fellow President’s Scholars, classmates, dorm mates and cheerleaders—are what really keep me going and help me achieve the goals I have set for myself. Being able to study engineering while cheering at a school like SMU is a unique opportunity that I absolutely treasure. Sure, I get a little grief from engineering classmates who view cheerleading as frivolous and from cheerleaders who think engineering is “nerdy”, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.