New orleans saints cheerleader outfit.

MSU alumna merges career, ‘Saint’hood to feed lifelong passions

While growing up, Alexis Moran knew she wanted to have a positive impact on her community. So, when she came to Mississippi State in 2014, the question wasn’t what she wanted to accomplish in her career, but how she would achieve her goal.

A native of Vancleave, Moran showcased a talent for dance as part of competitive performance teams throughout her adolescence. She also enjoyed being a cheerleader for her middle and high schools. Academically, she showed an aptitude for STEM—science, technology, engineering and math.

On the surface, those interests seem miles apart, but Moran has found a way to merge the two into a fulfilling, community-minded life.

“I feel like no one has it 100% figured out what they want to do for the rest of their life,” Moran, an MSU civil engineering graduate, said. “But I have such a strong passion for both dance and fostering a sustainable world that I need both in my life.”

Now 27 years old, Moran works as an environmental engineer with Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. As part of the company’s infrastructure and sustainability department, she helps improve the shipyard environment for employees while lessening the environmental impact of the shipyard on the surrounding communities.

“One of the aspects I deeply appreciate about sustainability is its long-term vision,” Moran said. “By conserving resources now, we’re ensuring the company’s longevity and its success long after I retire.”

Moran’s work to leave a lasting impact on her surroundings doesn’t end when she clocks out for the week—it just takes on a different meaning. On fall weekends when she leaves the shipyard, she dons the black and gold of the New Orleans Saints and energizes their fanbase as part of the team’s official Cheer Krewe.

Moran said she is grateful she followed her heart and pursued both her passion for dance and her passion for the environment while at Mississippi State because that educational journey led her to where she is now.

“I have such a strong passion for both dance and fostering a sustainable world that I need both in my life.”

~ Alexis Moran

“I was always very interested in how bridges are made, how roadways are designed and how buildings are constructed,” Moran explained. “I had the privilege to meet with Dr. (Dennis) Truax, who was head of the civil engineering department at the time, and Dr. (Seamus) Freyne. Their influence and guidance in the field made me gravitate toward a focus on environmental engineering.”

With her academic path settled, Moran then focused on bringing dance back into her life.

A woman holding a clipboard.

“I made the dance team my sophomore year,” Moran said. “Dancing in Davis Wade Stadium was the experience of a lifetime. I’ll never forget it, and I even get a little bit emotional talking about all of the amazing experiences with the team because it left such a lasting impact on my life.”

Outside of studying, dancing and participating in the MSU Student Association, Moran also found time for an internship with her now full-time employer. She interned with the company for two summers, gaining hands-on experience in environmental engineering and learning about the impact sustainability can have on the state.

“Having grown up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I value the health of our environment as it directly impacts the economic well-being of our coastal communities,” she said. “Promoting sustainability in the shipbuilding process involves incorporating eco-friendly practices in the construction process and ensuring the ships themselves have minimal environmental impact during their operation.”

With this in mind, Moran didn’t hesitate to accept a full-time job offer from Ingalls following her graduation in 2019. It didn’t hurt that the company’s proximity to New Orleans made it possible for her to audition for an NFL cheer squad.

“During my time off from dance, I realized how much I missed it. I truly wasn’t ready to stop performing. I’ve loved to entertain since I was a little girl,” Moran said.

This year marks her fifth football season with the Saints, but Moran said she enjoys it as much as she did her first time on the field at the Caesars Superdome. Through her role on the cheer squad, she not only hypes up the crowd during games, but she also makes appearances with the group to help create a feeling of community for Saints fans and give the people of New Orleans something to look forward to on Sundays in the fall.

“I love what I do, both as a cheerleader and in protecting the environment,” Moran said. “I love that one day, my future kids and grandkids will be able to see the road I took to make my dreams come true and find their own path to a successful future.”

By Emily Cambre, Photos Submitted