| Three UST Students make Texans Cheer Squad |
The rush of performing in front of fans, the fulfillment of living their dance dreams, the sense of purpose in community outreach, the pride in representing their city and the numerous networking opportunities – University of St. Thomas senior Nicole Hickl and 2011 graduate Michelle Lewis said cheering on the Houston Texans Cheerleader Squad last season was an incredible experience that they wanted to repeat.
For the second consecutive year, Hickl and Lewis were selected from more than 600 applicants for the 33-member squad. This time, Michelle’s twin sister, Rachel, joined the duo. Michelle and Rachel, who both graduated in May, are among two sets of twins on the squad.
Michelle and Rachel Lewis
Both Lewis sisters majored in liberal arts with concentrations in philosophy and English and took pre-med courses to apply for medical school. This summer, Michelle will take a summer class, study for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), prepare for the Texans season and work at an internship with cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Friedman. Friedman offered Michelle the internship after reading about her in the Houston Jewish Herald-Voice. Rachel has already taken the MCAT and is taking next year off to apply to medical schools and enjoy her experience on the Texans Cheerleading Squad.
Dancing since they were seven years old, the sisters hold themselves to the highest performance standards in both dance and academics.
“Being part of the Texans Cheerleaders is one of the most elite professional dancing opportunities in Houston aside from Houston Ballet,” Michelle said. “St. Thomas teaches you to shoot for the stars and reach for your greatest potential, not only academically, but in all your pursuits in life.”
Michelle and Rachel said the interdisciplinary nature of the UST’s liberal arts curriculum enabled them to get a well-rounded education in all of their areas of interest while still preparing them for medical school.
“St. Thomas prides itself of educating leaders of faith and character and they do that by providing a holistic, values-based education,” Rachel said. “The University instills this love of all subjects in you, which is why Michelle and I were liberal arts majors. Our degrees are really representative of the University. We wanted to study a variety of subjects, but we still wanted to prepare for our dreams of being doctors, which we were able to do with the pre-med program.”
Hickl, a senior communication major, is a leader on campus. She balances her academic schedule and numerous campus commitments with cheer practice and the 40 required appearances per season. Hickl served as a Presidential Ambassador, Vice President of the Student Government Association and Vice Chair of Freshman Orientation. She was also named among Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. She has experience performing in front of a crowd. Before she stepped on the Texans field, she was Miss Black Teen Texas and a Houston Aeros Cheerleader.
Hickl wants to pursue a career as a broadcast news reporter and said has already seen the benefit of her education in UST’s Communication Department and her internship at Fox 26.
“I’m able to utilize the skills I learned in my communication classes and my Fox 26 internship on the squad,” Hickl said. “When the Texans need one of the cheerleaders to speak on camera or talk on the radio, they ask me because I have a background in broadcast.”
Shown above from left to right: Michelle Lewis, Nicole Hickl, Rachel Lewis.