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Special needs student gets spot on UL Lafayette cheer squad

(KLFY) – This basketball season you will see smiling faces on the sidelines cheering for the Cajuns,  But, none light up the arena more-than one 24-year-old on the squad.

24-year-old Melanie Jankowers dreams of becoming a Ragin Cajun Cheerleader came true this basketball season. The squad welcomed her with open arms as part of the “learning is for everyone” program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The life program provides academic and social opportunities at the college level for young adults with special needs.

Graduate assistant coach Courtney Begnaud says Melanie is always smiling.

“No matter how the the game is going, no matter how tired she is, she always has that big Ragin Cajun smile,” said Begnaud. “She definitely has a lot of life and spirit that she’s brought to us.”

Melanie’s mother, Laura, is a die hard Cajuns fan and is absolutely tickled to see her daughter sporting vermilion and white.

“I am just thrilled to death…they’ve taken her by the hand and she’s the center of attention,” said Laura.

Melanie practices with the squad and knows every dance and cheer. And her favorite is the fight song, “Fight on Cajuns.”

Melanie isn’t done dreaming yet, she says she wants to be a librarian.

With a pair of pom poms and a big red hair bow..Melanie’s smile is contagious.