As a blonde cheerleader, I’ve chuckled to myself when instructors who don’t yet know me refrain from calling on me the first week of class. I guess the uniform and pom-poms give them a subconscious stereotype that I will be unable to answer the questions they pose. Eventually, they come to the realization that their preconceived notions are not holding true, and they begin to treat me based on my capabilities rather than my appearance. It is at this point that I feel as though the instructors begin to see me as more than a bubbly and energetic cheerleader and accept me as an intelligent and focused student.I became aware of stereotyping at an early age because it happened frequently to me. Because I am blonde, it has always been easy for others to make assumptions about my intelligence or abilities. When I became a cheerleader, absolute strangers made more assumptions. Based on a stereotype, people assume they know me and do not expect to find anything different. I surprise them when they find out how much I enjoy and excel at math and science. Once people see me complete assignments and do well in class, their opinions change.Strangers can be confused by the “blonde cheerleader” stereotype when I make a friendly gesture, too. Occasionally I see fellow students walking slowly through the hall slumped over and with their heads lowered, looking as though they feel uncomfortable or unhappy. When I reach out to them by smiling or by starting a conversation, they often look at me in surprise. Once they realize that my attempt to connect with them is genuine, however, their smiles mirror mine. My sincerity comes through and allows people to see and understand who I am. It also sets me apart from the simplistic stereotype through which they first might have viewed me.Stereotyping amounts to expectations based on limited information. My family has more complete information, and they see me differently than my peers and instructors first view me. My family sees in me someone with no limits to success. They consider me a leader in my work and activities, and my parents have always believed in me, which encourages me to push forward. For example, one day when I felt quite frustrated, and wanted to take a break from the homework, my mom said, “That is your choice, but I believe that if you push yourself you can do it.” And with that, I continued until I completed the homework. The look in her eyes told me much more than words could ever say about what she thought I could do.The assumptions and expectations of others do not define me or make me who I am, but I do consider them. When people put aside the stereotype of the blonde cheerleader and stop judging me by it, they learn that I am ambitious, hard-working, and I want the best for everyone. I do not let others’ uninformed opinions affect my self-esteem or hurt my feelings because I know that in time they will see the difference between me and their stereotype. I am determined and prepared to be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year college, and I plan to continue on to medical school. I take pride in all of my activities and schoolwork, and I look forward to challenging myself throughout college. In the end, my experience with stereotypes has helped me. I have learned that appearances can be deceiving, and people are usually even more interesting once I get to know them.