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Pats cheerleader rooted in the law

Like many Harvard Law School students, third-year Jeri Colbert is already starting to worry about finals. But unlike her peers, she has to balance her studies with performing at New England Patriots football games. Colbert, a part-time Army officer, beat out some 400 others last spring for a spot on the volunteer Patriots cheerleading squad.

The 25-year-old has been cheering since she was a girl in North Carolina and Maryland. The seeds of her law career started young, too. "My grandmother says I came out talking, and I've never shut up since," said Colbert.

She attended West Point as a "fluke," mostly because it was free -- even though she considered herself "too prissy" to be a soldier. After earning her law degree, she will head for six years in the Judge Advocate General Corps.

Colbert attends several practices each week for the Patriots, and shows up five hours early for every home game, in addition to doing special promotions.

Though she sleeps only a few hours a night, the balancing act is worth it. Hearing the fans go crazy at the first preseason game was "the best feeling in the world," she said.

"I want to be a lawyer, and I want to do well at Harvard, but I've never been a one-dimensional person," she said. "I would never want to be defined as `Oh, the Patriots cheerleader,' or `Oh, the Harvard law student.' It's all a little piece of me."

MARCELLA BOMBARDIERI

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