Posted September 16, 2020

An Owl soars with the Eagles and NASA

Before coming to Temple, Mya Sims never imagined she would intern at NASA or join a professional cheer team.

Mya Sims interned at NASA this summer.
Photography By: 
Courtesy of Mya Sims.
Mya Sims joined the Philadelphia Eagles Cheer Team the same summer she interned at NASA.

Mya Sims, FOX ’20, has a very unusual resume. Following her graduation from Temple last May with a BBA in marketing, Sims began an internship at NASA and auditioned for and joined the ranks of the Philadelphia Eagles’ cheerleading squad—all in the same summer.

Sims has been dancing since she was 4 years old. She grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey and studied ballet, tap and modern jazz. Her love of performing also led to her taking up cheerleading. 

A first-year student at Montclair State University, Sims transferred to Temple in her sophomore year. “What really drew me to Temple was the city aspect of it,” she said. She was interested in a university with an urban environment and lots going on both on and off campus.

Once she became an Owl, she quickly joined the Diamond Gems Dance Team and found cheering for Temple very different from her previous cheering experience. “[Temple] had their games at the Linc [Lincoln Financial Field] and big crowds. I never really had that kind of team performance in front of a lot of fans,” she said. “And the fans are really cool. So having that kind of interaction and engagement, it was really fun.”

Although Sims loved cheerleading, she hadn’t considered doing it professionally before she came to Temple. “It wasn't really on my radar to try out for a pro team,” she said. “But when I got to Temple, a lot of girls on the dance team, they moved on to do pro cheer in the NFL [and] NBA.” Several former Diamond Gems are on the Eagles Cheer Team; their success inspired Sims to audition for the squad herself.

Trying out for a professional cheer team is a demanding process—even more so when you’re doing it virtually. “Coming into it I didn’t have any expectations because I wasn’t aware of the whole process of things,” Sims said. She learned as she went along. 

Over two months, 576 candidates across 23 U.S. states and from as far afield as Japan were whittled down to just eight, including Sims. The first round was an open call: applicants recorded themselves performing a set piece of choreography and submitted the video to the Eagles. Next came business interviews, followed by a final audition live on Zoom. “I wasn’t really nervous because there wasn’t anyone watching, really,” Sims said. “I was just doing the whole process by myself.”

Being an Eagles cheerleader means being a brand ambassador for the team. “You just have to advocate for the organization as a whole and be a positive influence for a lot of people that are looking to you,” Sims said.

At the same time she was auditioning, Sims was also interning at NASA. She had been looking for an internship that would give her experience at a major company. “I came across NASA and I just never thought that in a million years I’d be able to intern there,” she said. 

She applied anyway and landed an internship in the Launch Services Program’s business office. The coronavirus lockdown meant she worked remotely. “Had the circumstances been different, I would have been on-site at Kennedy [Space Center] in Florida, which is awesome,” Sims said. 

And she was excited by the work she was doing—analyzing business contracts for non-human exploration, everything from unmanned spacecraft to satellite launches—which helped her draw on transferable skills from her degree. 

Sims feels Temple has helped shape the person she has become. “I would have never become the person I am today without Temple, I would have never got so many experiences,” she said. “I’m just very happy that I transferred, very happy that I joined the dance team [and] very happy that I met the people I did.”

—Edirin Oputu