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MSU cheerleader wins big with dairy job
By Kaitlyn Byrne
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Cheerleading and dairying may appear to have little in common, but Mississippi State University student Rachel Montgomery of Arkabutla, Miss., enjoys both.
Montgomery said she has been cheerleading for 13 years, but her interest in the dairy industry is more recent.
“I took an animal science class last semester, and we had a lab at the dairy. That’s when I found out about students working there,” she said. “I’m majoring in animal and dairy science, so I talked to some of my friends, called the boss and wound up getting a job.”
Montgomery said people are often surprised to learn she is an MSU cheerleader and a dairy worker because of common stereotypes associated with each.
“I never thought it was a big deal, but the people at the dairy couldn’t believe I was a cheerleader,” she said. “You know all the stereotypes of cheerleaders. That’s what they thought at first, so they were really surprised to find out I’m actually down-to-earth. At cheer, they were surprised about my job, but they don’t really know much about dairy cows.”
Montgomery said balancing classes, work at the dairy, and cheer practice can get stressful, but she enjoys the challenge.
“Some days I will go to work at the dairy at 3 a.m. and then go to workouts for cheer at 6 a.m. and then go to classes,” Montgomery said. “After class, I’ll have work again at 3 p.m. and then cheer practice at 6 p.m. Some days it works out where I only have cheer or only have work, though, so that’s nice.”
Kenneth Graves, herdsman and Montgomery’s supervisor at MSU’s Bearden Dairy Research Center, said Montgomery’s passion for cheerleading carries over into her work at the dairy.
“The energy and enthusiasm she has for cheering go along with her work here because she does everything to the best of her ability,” he said.
Graves said Montgomery’s duties include milking dairy cows, cleaning stall beds and feeding calves.
“No matter what it is, she’ll do it without complaining,” Graves said. “She’ll get dirty and pick up 50-pound sacks of feed all day, and it doesn’t bother her. She’s one of the best student workers I’ve ever had.”
As an animal and dairy science major planning to go to veterinary school, Montgomery said she is gaining valuable experience through her work with dairy cows at the center.
“I really like the educational aspect of working with the cows, and I’m learning a lot through first-hand experience,” she said. “In high school, I always wanted to do a mixed practice of small and large animals, but the longer I’m here the more I want to work with large animals exclusively.”
Graves said he thinks Montgomery’s commitment will help her go far in her future veterinary career.
“She does what she does because she wants to do it, not because she has to do it,” he said. “She’s not afraid of hard work.”