A Man of Good Cheer
Ethan Huynh, ’23, describes himself as all-in, 100 percent—the kind of guy who shows up, follows his passions and invests in his interests wherever they lead.
That’s how he began as a cheerleader. When he attended football games at Mark Morris High School in Longview, everyone else was watching the football players, but Huynh, a dancer, was watching the cheerleading. He decided to give it a try. He practiced on his own, learned some moves and joined the squad, the only male-identifying person at Mark Morris to do so.
“I feel like cheerleading is one of those sports that people don't necessarily understand,” Huynh says. “It's not one of those games that everybody is just there to watch. I think that cheerleading is a part of everything and is its own sport. Representing the sport itself is something that I really feel when I'm on the sideline, when I'm cheering, when I'm competing.”
Cheer also brought Huynh to Western. He began following the WWU cheer program on social media and saw how visible they are in the Western community. He attended a cheer clinic at Western, and that was the deciding factor.
“I just fell in love with the campus,” Huynh says. “I fell in love with the team, and I fell in love with Bellingham. I thought Western would be a great choice for me to attend school.”
At the end of his junior year, Huynh, then the cheer captain, and the rest of the leadership team felt the team was ready to take their skills to a national competition. They chose the USA Collegiate National Championships in Anaheim, California, in February 2023, competing in the game day division in three categories: band chant, fight song, and situational cheer. The team beat out Division I and II schools to win first place for their situational sideline routine. They also came in third place for the band chant routine that Huynh choreographed.
“That was a really big honor and it was really cool to experience it with this team,” Huynh says, “and a really great way to end my senior year of cheerleading here.”
Cheerleading isn’t his only passion. During his time at Western, Huynh also discovered a love for marketing, sports marketing in particular. He managed the cheer squad’s social media account, and loved learning about marketing, social media, and how they intersect with cheerleading.
“I took a lot of marketing in high school where I competed in marketing events, but that was something I never really took into consideration. Once I found the passion of combining cheerleading and marketing, I instantly knew that that was something that I wanted to do after I graduated.”
Carving a path for himself
Huynh found the Marketing Department to be compassionate, caring, and inspirational. He loved the way Senior Instructor Dan Purdy shared his vast knowledge and challenged his students, and he loved Professor Ed Love’s compassion and connection with the class.
“I remember the first day that I walked into the capstone in Ed Love’s class. He knew every single student before we had even introduced ourselves to him,” Huynh says. “And I think that speaks volumes to his character because he is just so caring and understands what marketing students need.”
As Huynh combined cheerleading and marketing, he carved a path for himself and found a way to focus his passion.
“I am really proud of how I have grown as a student and a student athlete here at Western. Not only have I been able to grow my leadership skills on and off the court as a cheerleader, I’ve also grown my leadership in the classroom.”
A teaching assistant in many classes, a product manager, a project leader, Huynh took advantage of the depth and breadth of experiences in the marketing program, and, in the process, built a social media brand all on his own. With more than 26,000 followers on Instagram, Huynh documented his life as a marketer, a cheerleader, and a WWU student.
And today, Huynh is in Memphis, Tennessee, working as a content marketing specialist for Varsity Spirit, a brand company that represents the National Dance Alliance, the National Cheerleaders Association and the United Spirit Association.
“Before I landed this job, I worked for the National Cheerleaders Association teaching at camps every summer, and I still am continuing to do that as a staff instructor. I was also able to grow my social media skills there,” he says. “I will be moving to work at corporate full time for that company, and I think it's just a really big full-circle moment.”
As he reflects on his time at Western, Huynh is grateful that he found a real home on campus.
“It is now so surreal because four years ago when I first when I walked into my 8:30 a.m. class, I was so nervous to see how I would end up four years later. These four years have been so quick and so fast-paced. Every experience, every person, every everything that I've gotten to do here at Western has really allowed me to be who I am today.”