Catching up with Saddleback College alumni Raya Turner

Raya Turner dancing at the University of Alabama. Lance Shores/Courtesy

Saddleback alumni are everywhere, pursuing their dream jobs, building their careers or continuing their education. Raya Turner, a former Saddleback student, and cheerleader, who is currently living in Dallas, Texas knows all about being a Saddleback alumnus. 

Turner contributed her dancing skills with the Saddleback cheer team before she graduated in May 2016. Transferring to the University of Alabama, Turner continued her dancing with the Alabama dance team and majored in communication studies with a minor in broadcasting and journalism.

Not only was Turner able to find where she fits in, but she also made many long-lasting friendships during her time on the Saddleback cheer team, including one with former cheerleading coach Dennise Harris.

“I feel like I was just instantly a part of a family,” Turner said. “Denise, again, she is so all about having as many girls as possible, she loved having different personalities.”

Turner, originally a jazz and hip-hop dancer, began her first cheerleading experience without many skills in other areas of the sport. However, her desire to dance also landed her a spot on the Memphis Grizzlies and the Detroit Pistons dance teams.

“Yeah, I got to really understand for the first time in my life I had never actually been a base or been a cheerleader before,” Turner said. “When I say cheerleader I mean the stunting part of it.”

Joining the Saddleback cheer team, Turner says it gave her more of a purpose as it led her to better academics as well as a new family. 

“Once I got on the cheer team it gave me that piece I was missing,” she said. “We all went into the library together, we all were working towards something of the same goal and that was like what really helped me.”

Not only did cheerleading help her succeed academically at Saddleback, but Turner also says being a part of the team helped her in the long run with her education as well. 

“As soon as I got on the cheer team, my whole life completely changed,” she said. “I was able to graduate from Saddleback early, when I got to Alabama I was only there for three semesters.”

Since Turner was young, she always knew she wanted to be a sports reporter. Currently living in Texas, she is now working her dream job covering an impressive list of sporting events that include Texas Christan University, Southern Methodist University, Texas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboys.

“Believe it or not in December 2020, I was able to land my first big girl job,” she said. “I am a sports reporter for a network station out here called D2 Town Sports.”

The station that Turner works at has different reporters that cover each sporting event considering how seriously Texas handles their athletics. She says that even soccer is taken very seriously in Texas, which is what she covers as a sports reporter.

“I am the reporter for our Major League Soccer team here in Dallas called FC Dallas,” she said. “The mascot is the bulls and we actually just started our full season.”

She thoroughly enjoys being able to watch and cover the soccer events that she attends. Turner also covers SMU athletics and the Texas Rangers in Dallas.

“Football is huge, basketball, all of the athletics are just huge here in Dallas so we’re headed into spring football right now and so I cover that,” she said. “And as far as like, Texas Rangers, I also cover Texas Rangers which is our baseball team and our Women’s National Basketball Association team.”

Sports have always played a major part in Turner’s life. At four years old she was cheering on her older brother at his sporting events and today, she gets to attend various major sporting events.

“Honestly I’m living the dream,” Turner said. “I love what I do, I love my job.”

Turner feels super blessed for all of the experiences she has been able to endure in her 26 years and loves where she is currently in life. Turner has always had a love for sports, making it easy for her to find a job she enjoys!