Ty’Keria Jackson and Paris Rogers, both 17, are best friends and have been cheering together since they were girls.

As freshmen, sophomores and juniors at Zachary High School, the pals cheered for the Broncos, but in their senior year, they decided to take a different route.

“We wanted to focus more on our studies and senior-year activities,” said Jackson. “It would’ve been a tough schedule to compete at cheering, be involved in ZHS cheering as well as our academics and senior events.”

In mid-April, the girls’ decision to focus strictly on their studies and competitive cheering for XLR-8 All Stars, a competition cheer team in Baton Rouge, paid off.

Both girls tried out for and made the collegiate coed cheer squad at Southern University, and as a result, signed cheerleading scholarships April 29.

“We are very happy,” said Jackson, the daughter of Esther and Michael Watson, of Zachary.

During Southern’s weeklong tryouts, there were cuts mid-week and final tryouts April 17, which were open to family and friends.

The girls said they tried to be positive the entire time, focusing on the both of them making the SU squad.

“We’ve spoken about if we both didn’t make it, and if that happened, then the other would not go on,” said Rogers, the daughter of Monical Pearson.

The two seniors organized their own signing ceremony April 29, with the permission of Principal Joe LeBlanc, and the event was attended by family and friends.

“Our parents and our friends are very proud and excited for us,” said Rogers.

The girls are looking forward to graduating on Tuesday with the rest of their senior class at Zachary High.

Jackson says she will pursue a nursing degree at SU, while Rogers will study business.