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Dr. Mariela Campuzano Of The Dolphins Cheerleaders Alumni Family

Every three years the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders host their Alumni reunion weekend. This year the salute brought together 200 alumni and 200 juniors for a performance representing the past, present and future Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. Unfortunately their halftime show was bumped by dangerous lightning storms during the home opener victory over the Titans (NFL’s longest game!).

We did get a great opportunity to chat with Dr. Mariela Campuzano who cheered in the 2009-2012 seasons. Mariela was born in La Paz, Bolivia, immigrated to the U.S. at age 3, grew up in South Florida and was the first in her family to earn a college degree in the U.S., followed by her Master of Science at Florida International University in Miami and then added her doctorate after her NFL career.

Dr. Campuzano earned a Doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning from The Graduate School of Education and Human Development (January 2018), George Washington University. She established a prominent research journal’s social media campaign, a model that has been adopted by several industry journals; she was selected as the Student Commencement Speaker for the class of 2018 and delivered remarks on turning knowledge and experiences into meaningful action to create positive social change.

Dr. Campuzano’s Doctoral dissertation was inspired by her directors during her years as a Dolphins cheerleader. She is currently an independent consultant to various organizations on workforce development, organizational culture initiatives, and diversity inclusion matters. She also is a Professional Lecturer at the George Washington University’s Organizational Leadership and Learning Program.

Mariela Campuzano

UC: We are casual here. So Mari, impressive attainments by you, tell our readers what accomplishment(s) made you the happiest.

Mari: The accomplishments that have made me the happiest and most fulfilled are making the squad in 2009 and obtaining my doctorate degree; although both accomplishments might seem disparate, they are closely connected. I was part of the University of Miami Hurricanettes dance team in college and that experience motivated me to want to perform at a professional level, yet I was aware of how competitive the auditions process was for the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. The challenge of the selective process further motivated me to tryout. I auditioned three times before making the team in 2009 and it truly made the experience more rewarding for me. Never would I have imagined having the honor to live out my goal, and the value of perseverance, for four seasons.

This accomplishment motivated me to pursue a goal I had set in third grade, to obtain a doctoral degree. I understood the competitive process of being admitted to a program and the level of commitment, quality of work and expectations of George Washington’s doctoral program, in particular. Based on my experience as a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader, I felt reassured about my ability to focus, willingness to persevere, and my drive to not only meet but also surpass academic expectations. The most difficult goals to achieve have been the most rewarding for me.

UC: The Dolphins 2016 International Class is on it’s third year with 6 veterans and Tamara being a line captain. It seems like a win-win success for both the ladies and the Dolphins. You agree?

Mari: I would absolutely agree the Dolphins 2016 International Class is a win-win success for the women on the team and the Dolphins organization. Each member of the squad – international or not, brings with them a unique set of life experiences they share with each other through their time together at rehearsals, tours, appearances, and as a family. These experiences carry life lessons, perspectives, ideas, and traditions that each cheerleader is exposed to and they are able to not only learn about, but also learn from one another. I believe that is invaluable to the experience of international cheerleaders and their teammates. As an organization, the Miami Dolphins have been able to expand their outreach to Spanish-speaking fans locally and abroad (for instance, at the Super Bowl LII Weekend in Monterrey, Mexico) by establishing connections through the squad’s international class, and highlight the breath of the diversity and talent of the squad. In turn, I believe the international class of cheerleaders has gained an appreciation for the sport of football, being welcomed to the many traditions of the Miami Dolphins organization, and being able to share their talents with a new audience.

UC: Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders must be well disciplined and tenacious in their practices and performances–how did that help you accomplish your educational goals?

Mari: As a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader I gained discipline and tenacity that have helped me to achieve my educational and professional goals. I am incredibly fortunate to have learned so much about myself as a woman, performer, and professional through my four years on the team, and even as an alumna. I went into my rookie year knowing that being selected as a training camp candidate was only the beginning of the hard work, discipline– mental, emotional, and physical, and the all-encompassing commitment needed to offer my best to my teammates and the broader organization. On the field, our directors and coaches helped the team to practice diligently to learn routines, feel confident about the execution of our performances, and to improve every season. More importantly, the discipline and tenacity I learned throughout our rehearsals and performances on the field, was matched with inspiring role models, moments of reflection, and many life talks from our directors, coaches, teammates, and Miami Dolphins professional staff, off the field.

The mental and emotional discipline, and determination to realize one’s potential for the benefit of a team, are among the lessons that equipped me to meet my educational goals. As a doctoral student at GW I applied the stamina I learned as a cheerleader to pace myself through research, exams, work/life balance, and ultimately to contribute my best to both organizations. Much like I did at cheerleading rehearsals, as a doctoral student I always showed up to class prepared, was the first to arrive, the last one to leave the classroom, and returned with a new set of milestones to improve the next time around.

 UC: During your Dolphins career of 2009-2013 you traveled extensively on military trips, fill us in on the joys of visiting our deployed men and women.

Mari: Visiting military men and women was one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences I had as a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader. It was an honor to be able to represent the Dolphins organization to thank our military for their service, bravery, selflessness and humility as everyday heroes. During military tours we were able to bring a piece of home to our servicemen and women and offer an NFL experience to them on base. It was all the more meaningful to perform for them in efforts to boost their morale, talk football, share our words of support with them, and especially, to learn about their experiences and inspirational stories. It was touching to meet families who devote their lives to traveling with their loved ones who are committed to protecting and serving our country. I remember returning from every military tour with a renewed sense of purpose, gratitude, and understanding thanks to the opportunity to connect with America’s bravest.

UC: Wow Mariela, we hope our cheer readers share your comments with the juniors. You are a very impressive motivational speaker. Thank you.

Game Action

Mariela audition photos by our friend Mitchell Zacks



Game action.

Mariela and team mates

Mariela and alumni mates helping at annual auditions

Mariela and alumni team mates 2018

These photos are in our Fins v Titans album HERE


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