Skip to main content
Houston Texans

Cheerleader of the Week: Summer


Aerospace engineer. Professional cheerleader. Certified daredevil. Each one describes Summer, the Texans Cheerleader of the Week.

The daredevil part is an added bonus, but the combination of the first two might sound just a tad unbelievable. That's what most people seem to think, at least.

"People always seem a bit perplexed when I tell them," Summer said. "I often wonder if they're thinking that I'm lying to them. But once they grasp it and they come to terms with the fact that it is indeed real, their reactions are typically very positive."

Summer is, indeed, a third-year veteran of the Texans Cheerleaders and a fourth-year employee of NASA. Her road to the space industry started years ago when she was growing up in south central Kansas.

"When I was in the ninth grade, I saw the movie Apollo 13 and saw the geeky engineers on the ground and knew instantly that's exactly what I wanted to be," she said.

According to plan, Summer received an academic scholarship from an aircraft company to attend Wichita State University. She graduated with a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering and has since been realizing her childhood dream at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where she works as a project engineer on an international space station.

"I come in, I do meetings, I manage several review item discrepancies and actions," she said. "What project engineers do is kind of bring the whole big picture together and make sure that all the boxers are checked and i's dotted and t's crossed."

Summer oversees technicians and a laundry list of engineers – safety engineers, human factors engineers, and mechanical and electrical engineers. That requires good people skills, and Summer feels she has improved that trait since becoming a cheerleader.

"There are many things about being a cheerleader that I think benefit me as an engineer, just as far as having a fun personality and being able to talk to anybody," she said. "That's really important in this business."

Likewise, the Texans Cheerleaders get a little help by having Summer on the squad.

"I tell her she makes us look smart," cheerleader services manager Alto Gary said with a laugh. "Because we have the stereotype that we're cheerleaders, we're dumb, we don't have anything going on upstairs. Oh, no. We've got a rocket scientist on the squad. What do you do? She's the one that just comes in and just brings it home for us."

{QUOTE}Gary should count her blessings that Summer's free-spirited nature led her to take up some of her audacious colleagues at NASA on her way to becoming a Texans Cheerleader.

"I was actually kind of dared into auditioning for the Texans Cheerleaders squad," Summer said. "Two of my male co-workers dared me to try out and just meet some young women so they could possibly meet some young women.

"I didn't have any friends here, really. I was very new to Houston. So there was a trade-off; they were going to buy me lunch and so forth. But I think I did have it in me that I really wanted to be a Texans Cheerleader, because when you go some place and you stand in line with about a thousand beautiful Texas women and you're just this girl from Kansas who's now a nerdy engineer, you don't just do that for lunch once a week. You do that because there's something in you that says this is something that I want to do."

Summer made the squad that year. Two years later, it hasn't been a hindrance whatsoever to her engineering career.

"What I like about being involved with the Texans organization is the fact that they're a very respectable organization," she said. "The ladies on the squad are very classy...I like the conservatism of the Texans organization because I am a professional. I like how they keep me very respectable as a cheerleader so when I go to work, I don't have this conflict of who I am."

Being a cheerleader does get in the way of some things, though. Summer has had a private pilot's license for more than five years, and she had to take a break from advanced flying training to start her third season with the Texans Cheerleaders. Consider it nothing more than a bump in the road.

"I plan to continue to pursue flying, whether it be as a hobby, maybe one day as a career," she said. "You never know where the wind will blow you. But I am a private pilot, and I do love to fly."

And that's not all.

"I love to ride motorcycles," she said. "I recently got my motorcycle license. I have the helmet, I have the jacket, I have the gloves, I have the boots - I just don't have the bike yet. So I'm kind of saving up to get a motorcycle."

In the meantime, Summer relishes the opportunity that being a Texans Cheerleader affords her to become involved with the community. She said that she's starting to notice that more and more people know her story, which is something she greatly appreciates.

"I think it's important that young women and young girls understand that women can be so diverse in their interests," she said. "It's exciting because we do a junior cheer program, and that really is a chance for me where I do get to talk to the little girls and they want to know what Miss Summer does during the day and things like that, so I do get the chance to let them know on occasion.

"I hope that through all the media opportunities I've had as a cheerleading rocket scientist, that I've been able to plant some seeds and maybe encourage or inspire someone - at least one person."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content