Software Engineer and NFL Cheerleader: Pomona Launched Dual Careers for Della Anjeh ’16

Della Anjeh at Google

By day, Della Anjeh ’16 works as a software engineer at Google. On evenings and weekends from September to January, she moonlights as a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers. Her experiences at 鶹Ů helped launch both of her disparate careers.

Anjeh knew she wanted to major in computer science when she arrived at Pomona from O’Fallon, Missouri, via the program. She had positive experiences with coding in high school and laughs that she “wasn’t good at anything else” at Pomona.

She credits her advisor, Professor Tzu-Yi Chen, for nurturing and guiding her through her time in the Computer Science Department.

“Professor Chen was really good as my advisor, keeping me calm and making me feel like I belonged in the department on days when I felt like I didn’t,” says Anjeh.

During their student-advisor meetings, Anjeh shared the challenges she faced, especially as a Black woman in tech, and sought to hear about Chen’s experiences as a computer scientist. “I remember feeling good every time we met,” says Anjeh.

Her junior year, Anjeh landed an internship at a startup company through , a nonprofit that connects Black and Latino technologists with companies and mentors, when its recruiters visited Pomona’s campus. This internship served to open the doors for subsequent opportunities for her.

Since graduating from Pomona, Anjeh has worked as a software engineer at Lyft, Amazon, Microsoft and now Google.

She enjoys that computer science can fit into any domain: “Everything needs a technical counterpart,” she says. She also appreciates the creativity and collaboration that are innate to the field.

As a counterpoint to her time in front of a computer, Anjeh dons red and gold as a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers.

Growing up dancing, Anjeh didn’t foresee a career in professional dance. Her first year at Pomona, however, she signed up for a hip-hop dance physical education class. The instructor, Kristen Egusa, was a dancer for the Los Angeles Clippers and a choreographer for multiple professional sports teams.

“I had never had a chance to take a class with a professional dancer,” says Anjeh.

Egusa let Anjeh know about a professional cheer workshop she was holding in Torrance, California. Attending that workshop exposed her to the world of professional cheer for the first time.

On campus, Anjeh also danced with the . The hip-hop group performed at Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps basketball and football games and served as a rewarding dance outlet for her.

Many members of that group, like Anjeh, are now professional dancers, doing “really cool things,” she says. One dances for the Washington Commanders NFL team and another for the Brooklyn Nets NBA team along with choreographing music videos in New York City. Another member performs with Cirque du Soleil.

Last month, Anjeh wrapped up her second season with the 49ers, capping the season with a trip to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada. Besides the opportunity to perform on the world stage, other highlights included attending promotional events leading up to the game, watching the halftime show from the field and encountering a wide swath of the 49ers fan base that had made the pilgrimage to Vegas.

“Being involved in all the excitement was really fun,” she says. Did she see Taylor Swift in the stands? “We got to see just about everything you could see,” she answers.

Anjeh is pleased to be able to perform as a dancer while holding another career. She explains that most NBA and NFL dancers maintain separate jobs and the 49ers franchise especially emphasizes the dancers’ other careers. Her teammates include lawyers, Ph.D. candidates, a professor and a project manager, she says.

“It’s a flexible enough commitment for people to maintain pretty demanding full-time jobs,” says Anjeh. She adds, “I just love to perform.”