New Location, New Experiences

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream” -Peter McWilliams

This quote has been my motto ever since my senior year of high school, when I decided I wanted to go to school in Florida… 3, 140 miles away from my home in Lake Tapps, WA. Most of my friends were choosing to attend colleges either in the state of Washington or in the surrounding states. Everyone thought I was crazy for wanting to go to school all the way across the country, but this quote is what gave me the faith to pursue my dreams and move to Daytona Beach.

Throughout my first four months of college, I can tell you that I have been uncomfortable many times. But being uncomfortable in this case does not have to have a negative connotation. I believe that being uncomfortable can also mean living outside of our comfort zone, and I am a strong believer that stepping out of our comfort zone is what helps us to truly experience growth as a person.

Making the decision to attend ERAU in Daytona Beach has been the biggest and most difficult decision of my life so far, but I am positive that I made the right decision by coming here. I am able to pursue my major, which is Aviation Business Administration, and also network with so many people who are high-up in the aviation industry. Embry-Riddle provides so many opportunities for students to meet with industry professionals and the Career Expo is just one of them. Had I not come to ERAU, I am certain I would not be holding conversations with professionals who are high up in the aviation industry, especially as a first semester freshman!

My suite mates and I at the Career Expo on campus.

My suite mates and I at the Career Expo on campus.

Not only do I love my school and all the academic opportunities that are available here, but I also love to experience new things. By coming to ERAU, I have been able to do so many things that I never would have been able to do if I went to any other university. These are just a few examples…

The Florida coastline from 3000 ft above.

The Florida coastline from 3000 ft above.

Here at ERAU, flying is in our DNA. Even though I am not a pilot, I still have a passion for aviation. There is something so freeing about being thousands of feet above, looking down and seeing the buildings get smaller and smaller, and then looking to your left and to your right and watching the clouds float past your window.

I want to give you a peek at some of my experiences I have had throughout my first semester…

Me standing on the Daytona International Speedway finish line.

Me standing on the Daytona International Speedway finish line.

The USAF Thunderbirds flying over the beach for the Wings and Waves Air Show.

The USAF Thunderbirds flying over the beach for the Wings and Waves Air Show.

 

I got to stand in front of a C-17 at the NAS JAX Air Show.

Me standing in front of a C-17 at the NAS JAX Air Show.

I went boogie boarding at Ponce Inlet.

I went boogie boarding at Ponce Inlet.

 

I got to tour the observatory at ERAU and see the telescope on top of the COAS building.

I was able to see the ERAU telescope on top of the COAS building.

The original ERAU Waco.

The original ERAU Waco.

I got to spend a day at the "Happiest Place on Earth".

I got to spend a day at the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

I am so glad that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and attend ERAU. Peter McWilliams’ quote has held true for me throughout my first semester. Taking the risk of moving across the country, starting a new life, and beginning university is a daunting task for anyone, but it has definitely been worth all of the experiences I have already had, and will continue to have here in Florida. I am completely in love with my new life here at Embry-Riddle and I know that even though I am continuing to push myself to live outside my comfort zone, “it’s a small price to pay for living a dream”.

 

 

 

 

Only the Beginning

Last week was officially the last week of my internship. I can’t believe this incredible summer is already coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was on a plane to Charlotte heading to the All-Star race. But let me tell you, this summer will definitely go down as one of the most memorable, opportunistic, and eventful summers of my life. I’ve met so many people, had a blast with the interns here in Daytona, and have learned more about NASCAR than I thought was possible. I’m sure it will be difficult for me to go back to school after my amazing summer, but I’ve never been so focused, determined, and excited for what’s to come.

The July races at Daytona International Speedway were definitely one of the highlights this summer. I finally had the opportunity to attend a race as a professional and not as a fan, and that made all the difference for me. It’s my time to decide which side of the fence I will be on: am I destined as a fan in the grandstands, or do I really have what it takes to be in the garages with some of the best in the business. I took advantage of every minute I had at the track by walking through the garages and networking. Like I’ve said before, if there’s one thing you need to be good at in life, it should be networking.

I was curious to see how some of the engineers got their start and what advice they could give me. I am so very grateful that engineers from Stewart-Hass Racing took the time to talk to me, tell me about what they do, give me advice as I finish up my last two years in school, and even keep in contact with me. John Klausmeier, the Race Engineer for Danica Patrick’s crew, has been helping me build my résumé and make it motorsports engineering specific. I also got the chance to talk to Alan Gustafson, Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, who I also met at the All-Star race in Charlotte. Alan is someone who I’ve always looked up to as an engineering student working towards a career in NASCAR. He previously attended Embry-Riddle, which influenced my decision to attend ERAU.

Alba Colon, the program manager at GM, went out of her way to meet up with me for a few minutes. She is truly a pioneer for women in engineering in motorsports, and someone who will be a great mentor for me as I pursue my career. I even got the chance to give my business card to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief. The advice and time that I received from these professionals in this sport was priceless and confirmed my aspirations to be in their shoes someday.

 

A few more highlights from race weekend included a pace car ride, victory lane with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, check presentations, and enjoying the race with the interns.

Coke Zero 400 Victory Lane

The last few weeks of my 10-week internship went by the fastest. I was busy working on several projects up until the very last day! The most time consuming project that I was tasked with was the weekly track survey. During the month of July, it was my responsibility to call the 55 weekly promoters and conduct a survey, gaining valuable feedback about sponsorship programs, promoter events, and future business opportunities.  Although I spent most of my days on the phone, this project was the biggest learning experience for me. Not only was I able to learn about the program from my supervisors in the Weekly and Touring department, but from the promoters, who often shared many different views and perspectives.
 
Using the feedback from the promoters, I created a Survey Recap and presented it to my entire department. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous in my life… In the end, my presentation went very well, and my department was impressed with all of the hard work I had put into the recap. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to receive such high recognition from everyone in my department.
 

The interns with VP Marcus Jadotte

Just about every week, the NASCAR interns had the opportunity to connect with NASCAR executives at a Lunch & Learn. The executives would share with us their role in the company, their perspective as professionals in the sports industry, and ended the lunch with a Q&A session. A few of the featured executives included: NASCAR President Mike Helton, VP of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development Marcus Jadotte, VP of Strategic Development Eric Nyquist, VP of Human Resources Paula Miller, and Human Rights Activist Dr. Richard Lapchick.

The interns with Dr. Richard Lapchick

The NASCAR interns showed Daytona that they knew how to have a good time. We had an unforgettable summer together – whether it was going to the beach, movies, Daytona night life, line dancing, hibachi, New Smyrna Speedway, or a tour at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There was never a dull moment with the interns. I can easily say that we will all be lifelong friends as we pursue our careers in the sports industry.

New Smyrna Speedway

Checking out weekly racing at New Smyrna Speedway

4th of July in Daytona

Touring ESPN Wide World of Sports

The interns with Pluto!

As I sadly watch this experience come to the end, I now know exactly what I need to do as I build my engineering experience. I plan on getting involved with local race teams or maybe even gaining experience at Spirit of Daytona. I’ve never wanted this more than I do now and I am going to do everything possible to ensure my career in motorsports is a success. My NASCAR internship may be over, but I can assure you that this is only the beginning.

 

Check out the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Newsletters:

Night of Fire

Racing, racing, and more racing! These last few weeks I’ve been so caught up in the motorsports scene and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weekend following my trip to Connecticut, I traveled with the Larsen Motorsports team to Georgia for the Night of Fire at Atlanta Dragway. Even though I haven’t been to a whole lot of races with the team, considering I started interning there in January, I’m still going to say that this race was my favorite! After arriving Friday afternoon and setting up, we enjoyed the night with some teambuilding. We ate delicious BBQ, had a blast at Funopolis with go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, and arcade games, and ended the night with the pool and hot tub.

Setting up at Atlanta Dragway with the jet shop greaser girls.

After a fun night of play, the next day at the track was all work. However, being a part of the team never seems like work to me. I always enjoy being at the track, learning something new, and interacting with the fans.  Because of my internship with NASCAR this summer, I have noticed I am paying even more attention to detail. Now that I have a better understanding of the business side of the motorsports industry, I believe that this has allowed me to understand the technical side a little better, oddly enough. I now have a well-rounded perspective of racing, which will enable me to become a better engineer. I have a greater sense of urgency to learn – and not only learn what, but how and why, as well. I am making every single moment a learning opportunity, even when we are just talking with fans or during some down time.

Theresa Brown, right, and I crewing for Elaine’s Miller team.

Theresa Brown and I crewed Elaine Larsen’s Decade of Thrills jet dragster with crew chief Brian Tocci. Before each pass, we must run through a checklist in order to prep the car and ensure its safety before every run. This includes packing parachutes, filling tires, inspecting all components of the car, and ensuring all materials needed at the starting line are in the truck. When it’s finally our time to race, we push the car out on the starting line, where Theresa cleans the tires with Brake Cleaner and I ensure that all tires have VHT, a liquid epoxy resin applied to the tires before each run to help the car stick to the track.

Brian starts the dragster and takes off in the truck down the drag strip. Theresa then puts Elaine on the starting line while I get some good footage of the action.

Standing in between two, 5000 horsepower jet dragsters is a feeling that I can’t even describe. Watching these dragsters take off up close, and race down the track successfully, brings a feeling of accomplishment and makes every minute worked at the shop completely worth it. Now we get to do it all over again and prep for the second run! Unfortunately, the second pass turned into a smoke and fire show because dew had settled on the drag strip, but it was still just as incredible. And to top it off, the whole team sat along the wall down the track and watched some amazing fireworks!

Theresa, Elaine, and I on the back of a humvee!

The best part of being on the Larsen Motorsports team is that the Larsens truly make us feel like we each have an important role on the team. They appreciate all of us and realize our potential. After the first pass at Atlanta Dragway, the team got to ride in the back of a couple humvees down the drag strip. The crowd was cheering us on as we rode by waving at them, and the recognition we all received felt so incredible.

 

This was definitely one of the best weekends of my summer and it’s all thanks to Chris and Elaine Larsen. I am proud to say that I am one of their interns and always look forward to the opportunities that I have at the jet shop. Keep reading the blog because I still have so much to tell you about race weekend here in Daytona!

For now, here’s a few more photos from the weekend!

 

 

The pit area

Embry-Riddle jet dragster

Miller Decade of Thrills jet dragster

Atlanta Dragway

Summer Fun

Well, I’ve already completed the first three weeks of my summer internship and haven’t said a single word about it. I guess I better fill you guys in on everything!

NASCAR Headquarters in Daytona

I am currently interning in Daytona Beach at the NASCAR building right across from Daytona International Speedway. It is nothing short of impressive. I work on the sixth floor as the Weekly and Touring Racing Operations Intern and I must say, the view from here is not shabby at all. As the Weekly and Touring Operations intern, I have the opportunity of working with NASCAR Home Tracks, which is the grassroots of racing. I get to work with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the Euro Racecar Series, the Canadian Tire Series, the Toyota Series, the Whelen Southern Modified Series, the Whelen Modified Series, the K&N Pro East Series, and the K&N Pro West Series. As of right now, I have only worked with the Whelen All-American Series, the series where drivers race at the same local tracks weekly, but am hoping I get to learn a little more about the touring series soon.

The view from work

As a lifelong NASCAR fan, my knowledge of NASCAR has only been limited to the top three series: the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series, and the Sprint Cup Series. I am so glad that I have been given the chance to work with grassroots racing. I knew nothing about these 8 series, and now, this is the perfect time for me to expand my knowledge and become more well-rounded in the sport. It’s only been three weeks and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned.

A few projects that I have worked on include: the NASCAR: An American Salute project, the NASCAR Green Tree Planting Program, a Spec Engine project, and Track Recruiting. If you have been watching any NASCAR races the last few weeks, you may have seen commercials for the American Salute platform. From Memorial Day Weekend to Independence Day, NASCAR is uniting to honor our military men and women. NASCAR is partnering with A Million Thanks to reach one million salutes to our military by writing personalized letters and dropping them at boxes that have been sent to tracks nationwide, and by using the hash tag #NASCARSalutes on Instagram and Twitter. I have been reaching out to all of the local weekly tracks across the country, encouraging them to take part in it, and creating a recap of all of the special military events these tracks are hosting.

Writing letters to our military

NASCAR is also partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to donate 90 trees to five weekly tracks, who will then choose a beneficiary locally to donate these trees to. NASCAR Green’s goal is to “neutralize carbon emissions of all NASCAR national series racing in 2013. I am currently in the process of collecting information from these tracks so that I can help move the program forward.

My supervisor gave me a Spec Engine project to work on because it directly applies to my technical knowledge and will give me an opportunity to learn more about engines. I have organized a list of parts needed to build this spec engine and have created a binder full of this information. I knew nothing about engines, but after looking up each part, organizing, and printing specs, I now have a better understanding of engine components.
Track recruiting has also been a huge part in my internship. NASCAR is always looking to sanction more local tracks; this requires gathering information from the hundreds of tracks across the country, working on packets of info that can be sent to them, and coming up with ways to improve upon the NASCAR program.

My new reading material (:

I guess that would be a short summary of what I’m working on. If I told you every single detail, we may be here for awhile.  What is my favorite part of my internship so far? I absolutely love talking to everyone in my department and constantly learn about what they do, and how all of these series work. One of my supervisors has drag and stock racing experience, so he is familiar with the technical side of the sport: the part of the sport I am dying to learn about. He constantly challenges me and tests my knowledge about stock cars. I guess I didn’t realize how little I really know…This has made me even more determined to continue learning and to make the extra effort. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to always read and always make the effort to learn something new. I try to take at least 30 minutes of my day to do some research online or read my new racing magazines. I absolutely love it.
Learning about the business side of NASCAR has definitely been eye-opening for me. I think so much more highly of the sport after gaining this insight the last few weeks. Next week I will be traveling to Connecticut to attend a weekly race, touring race, and take a tour of the Whelen facility. Going to the track will definitely put what I have been doing at the office into perspective and make it all come together. I know working my first drag race with Larsen Motorsports did just that for me. I could go on all day so I better stop now! I have so much more to tell you guys but I’ll make you wait and save it for later. :D

Local History & the Future of Flight

Greetings All,
Since I last wrote, I was very fortunate to visit a town in Florida that is near Daytona Beach. Two weekends ago, my friends and I drove a little less than an hour north to St. Augustine. The minute I saw this town, I absolutely loved it. According to the City of St. Augustine’s website, this town was founded in 1565 by the Spanish, which makes it the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States. For those of you who are history buffs, this means that St. Augustine is 42 years older than Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

This is one of the side streets of St. Augustine. As you can see, it was in the historic part of town. Taken by Courtney Hough, my roommate.

In the present day, this city thrives on tourism. There are plenty of locally owned shops carrying artwork created by people who live in St. Augustine. There are unique foods to try from family-run cafes to high-end restaurants. In the evenings, many places have live music from all over the world. St. Augustine is a truly wonderful place.

Even though this city is almost 450 years old, it has aged beautifully. In the older parts of the city, there are historic cobblestone streets and houses with balconies.

Many houses in the older neighborhoods looked like this one. I love houses with balconies. Taken by Courtney Hough.

In the Historic Colonial District, there are 36 colonial buildings that are still standing.
One of the most beautiful buildings is part of Flagler College.

This is the sign in front of the college’s main buildings. Their school crest is amazing. Taken by Courtney Hough.

The main building was built in 1888 as part of the Spanish Renaissance architecture and was originally used for the Hotel Ponce de Leon.

This is one of Flagler College’s main buildings which was originally the Hotel Ponce de Leon. Taken by Courtney Hough.

It was one of the first poured-in-place concrete buildings in the United States and one of the first electrified buildings. The inside is absolutely beautiful.

The inside of this building was incredibly gorgeous with dark polished wood and vibrant paintings and art. Taken by Courtney Hough.

This is one of the main stairways leading up to the residence halls. Taken by Courtney Hough

The main entrance opens up into a courtyard with a fountain in the center and walkways leading to various parts of the buildings. In addition, there are many wonderful stained glass windows, mosaics, and murals.

Seeing all of the beautiful architecture of Flagler College makes me glad to be close enough to visit. For me, it is nice to see buildings, streets, and cities that were built hundreds of years ago because it gives me an appreciation for the hard work and dedication used in those times. Sometimes I feel that society is too busy dealing with the now or looking towards the future that the past is forgotten. While I enjoy modern cities of the United States, I sometimes feel that society has forgotten what it is like to plan not just for now, but for future generations. I believe that it is better to build and structure that is meant to last hundreds of years than to build one that may be torn down in maybe 15 years. It would save a lot of time and money in the long run, quality over quantity. It is interesting that the other big event of the past two weeks presents a strong contrast to St. Augustine and deals solely with the future and science.

Last Monday, Boeing’s new Dreamliner the experimental 787 was open to Embry-Riddle students for tours.

787 Dreamliner

This is the tail section of the new experiments 787. Pictures were not allowed inside the aircraft. Taken in June of 2013.


Since the Dreamliner is still in the experimental stage, the side of this plane was essentially used as a flying laboratory. There were stations for each scientist and engineer that monitored the sensors mounted in and on the aircraft. Data gathered each day is then uploaded into a main computer for analysis. Probably one of the most intriguing aspects about the inside of the plane was the large water tanks located all over. When we asked some of the scientists, we found out that they use these water tanks to manipulate the center of gravity of the plane to simulate the plane being as full capacity with strangers and luggage. The system is brilliant because it is so simple.

787 main engine

This is one of the main engines. I love the color. Taken in June 2013.

 

Dreamliner 787 Daytona Beach

This picture shows of my roommate, Courtney, and I in comparison to the jet engines. Taken in June of 2013.

Well, that’s most of the exciting news of the past two weeks. The next entry should be from France. Fingers crossed for luck. Thank you for reading.
-Brenna

All-Star Weekend

Just when I think everything is going great, it gets even better! The opportunities seem never-ending and I have more blessings than I can count every single day. Attending All-Star Weekend in Charlotte this past weekend was one of them. This officially kicked of the start of my summer internship with NASCAR. As an intern, my orientation includes a mandatory, all expense paid trip to the All-Star Race weekend in North Carolina! (Tough life, right?) This experience gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the weekly operations that make each NASCAR race possible. I’m sure it’s obvious that it takes a lot of people to ensure a successful NASCAR weekend, but to actually speak with professionals who work in the sport has given me a completely different perspective. As if I didn’t love NASCAR enough already, I’ve definitely walked away from this experience with an even greater appreciation of this extraordinary sport. Now I’ve got to catch you up on this crazy weekend! Where to start…
 
The internship I have secured for the summer is through the NASCAR Diversity program. The purpose of the program is to create more diversity in the NASCAR industry and provide opportunities for minorities in the sport. All of the interns arrived in Charlotte on Thursday. Kristian, the Account Executive for Diversity Affairs in NASCAR, organized this trip for all of the interns. Thursday consisted of a social event where we could all meet each other and have some fun.
 
That evening, we headed to Downtown Charlotte for some bowling and pizza. Let me tell you, Charlotte is absolutely beautiful. I know it’s somewhere I want to live when I get older. It’s the perfect combination of city and country life. All of the interns in this program are pretty incredible, as well. They come from some amazing backgrounds and have already accomplished so much throughout their college careers. This orientation experience bonded us quickly and gave us an opportunity to learn from each other.

Walking through Downtown Charlotte

Intern outing at Strike-City Bowling

Friday was the first long and tiring day. Schedule for the day: breakfast, NASCAR R&D center, guest speakers, lunch, Revolution Racing tour, Roush Fenway Shop tour, dinner, guest speakers, driver intros, and the truck race. Whew! What didn’t we get to do?! A day full of NASCAR was the perfect way to spend my birthday. The NASCAR R&D center was unveiled in 2003; this center is used for safety initiatives, to enhance competition, and to perform weekly inspections. We were able to tour this facility and learn in detail about what takes place on a weekly basis.

NASCAR R&D Center

R&D 2

Throughout our orientation events, we had the opportunity to listen to several previous interns and professionals who work in the industry. They gave us valuable advice to help us make the most of our internship experience, as well as our future careers with NASCAR, or anywhere else for that matter. One piece of advice that I came away from this weekend: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Hard work will take you places, but the key to moving up in this industry is all about who you know. It’s really not a bad idea to network anywhere you go. Throughout this internship I will make an extra effort to work with other departments and become familiar with their operations and the people that make them up. Talking to professionals also gave me a glimpse of the inside operations that make the sport go. I never realized all of the positions and jobs involved in the sport; NASCAR truly does think of everything.

Next stop: Revolution Racing. Rev Racing manages NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. This is an outreach program looking to get minorities, including women, involved in racing. I love the efforts of the Drive for Diversity program because as a Hispanic female engineer, it would be great to see changes in the number of women and minorities involved in the sport.

The interns visiting Rev Racing

Before heading to the race track, we headed over to the Roush Fenway Shop for a tour. We were able to check out some of the cars that will be used at the Charlotte race this weekend, as well as where the cars are maintained.

Roush-Fenway Shop

All of the interns made my birthday extra special. It was my first birthday away from my family but it was definitely an unforgettable day. They all signed a cute Cinderella card for me and I even got a birthday sundae at dinner! Yum!

Such an incredible birthday

Now off to Charlotte Motor Speedway!

Livin’ it up at the racetrack!

As soon as we arrived at the race track, we were put right in the middle of the excitement. Crews were pushing their trucks on to pit road and camera men were running around trying to catch all of the action. At this moment, I stood in awe of what happening around me and did my best to soak in as much as I could. Here are a few pics of what I saw:

Truck Series Garage

Pit Road

Driver intros came next! We were directly in front of the stage on the race track. Pretty exciting stuff, I must say.

Driver Intros

Met driver Ty Dillon

The interns with Drive for Diversity driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.

And then the race started! We got to watch the race from pit road, where we were up close to the crews and watched them make all their pit stops. It’s one thing to watch it on TV, but to see it up close in person is a whole other experience in itself.

Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. It gets better. Next stop: VICTORY LANE! After the race, we were able to watch Kyle Busch climb out of his truck in victory lane. Couldn’t think of a better way to end the night.

Victory Lane

Can you believe that all of this happened in one day? I’ve seen a completely different side of NASCAR all within 24 hours. This experience was completely life changing and I’ve only shared with you up to Day 2. Stay tuned for the Day 3 – the All-Star Race update. I have seen so much more and can’t wait to share it with you so that you can get excited too! This could be you one day: maybe not working with NASCAR, but getting a taste of your dream. This is only the beginning of an amazing summer. I’m officially livin’ the dream.

Goodbye island life

This is probably the only blog from an Embry-Riddle student who started two first days at this University, 5 years apart.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that one year ago, I was a Key West trolley tour guide.  I entertained tourists with facts of the island and repeated the same corny jokes to them every day, sometimes with a few originals.  Chances are good that if you visited Key West and rode on an orange and green trolley over the past year, I was your bus driver and guide.  I also drove the Key West haunted tours, a type of meet and greet with Key West characters like Robert the doll as well as the other types of spirits….not necessarily the ones found in haunted houses.  I found myself living on the island by accident.  I went to be a dog sitter for two weeks and ended staying almost a year!  You might say I caught what the locals call the “Keys Disease” and it’s hard to resist.  People come for a visit but never leave.  It’s said on the island that if you show up to work every day, you have a job.  If two weeks later you’re still showing up on time, they’ll make you the manager.  Well, sure enough, the dog left town with its owner and I stayed.  As well as being a tour guide, I worked other side jobs such as newspaper delivery boy, bakeshop dishwasher, and event security (a.k.a. bouncer).

The island life was a relaxing and good one.  It is hard to resist the sunniest place in Florida with the least amount of rain.  It ‘s truly Paradise except, endless renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs blaring down from Duval Street.  One day I woke up with one more hangover and realized I wasn’t moving forward with my life.  It was time for me to progress forward on my flight plan for life.

This was the culmination of a restlessness that I tried to resolve, and it brought me through many different experiences.  These included several semesters at a state university, a shopkeeper in South Beach, and an unpaid Internship for Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in DC.  This was right after I withdrew myself from Embry Riddle; I wanted to try something different in life. But my passions drew me back.

On August 27, 2012, my second first day of college began.  Once again excited to be making progress, living in campus dorms, and starting from where I had left off, but more focused on my degree: Aviation Business Administration.  In one week, I will be curing my desires, dusting off the backpack and train hopping across Europe to appease my wandering soul.  In one month, I will be attending classes with the Study Abroad program in Berlin, and in one year, I will be an Embry-Riddle alumnus. It’s a long way from the old island life, and it feels great!

Spring Break 2013

Spring Break is here! This fact means a couple of things. First off, it means that my fellow classmates and I will be able to use this week off to catch up on some much needed sleep and relaxation. Neither of which I have been able to get much of these past few weeks. Spring break also means that the end is near! After we get back from break we have about five weeks before final examinations begin. We are getting close to the end and it is truly hard to believe I am also almost done with my first full year away at college.

The past weeks have been relatively uneventful; midterms came and went without too much stress. My parents were actually in town a couple weeks ago and it was really nice to be able to see them and spend time together. Highlights of the week included watching a spring training with my dad and having dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.

spring training, baseball

Soaking up the rays while watching some baseball

The Daytona 500 came to town back in February and yes, it was crazy. This town was inundated with race fans and it looked completely different. Over 200,000 people were in attendance at that race and I happened to be one of them. I was able to score a free ticket since I had previously volunteered at the speedway, so me and a few of my buddies went to check it out. I have to say, I have never been a NASCAR fan, and I’m still not, but now I see what it’s all about. It was definitely a pretty cool experience to be there at the most prestigious race in the world.

Daytona 500, daytona international speeadway

On the sidelines at the Daytona 500

More Daytona 500 fun

Air Force ROTC is still going well. I wish I could tell you that you get used to waking up at 5:45 every other morning but it always seems to be a struggle to get out of that nice cozy bed. For our midterm evaluations we had to defend a “base” against the upperclassmen. It was actually pretty fun as each Squadron was assigned a specific task and we were able to apply what we have been learning this semester. Also, we had our Beach Run PT (physical training) a couple weeks back which is always a nice change of scenery. Watching the sunrise isn’t bad either.

Air Force, Daytona Beach

AFROTC Detachment 157 on the beach after PT

Spring break (especially in Florida) should be indicative of warmer weather and nicer days. That hasn’t necessarily been the case here in Daytona Beach up until now. Virtually ever since the spring semester began back in January, the temperatures have been well below average, with the exception of a few days that have made the mercury rise. Believe it or not, this morning was a chilly 39 degrees. However, cooler weather generally means better flying. Which I have not been doing much of recently since I have been preparing for my checkride (funny how that works right?). I have actually spent most of my time doing orals and studying, studying. There is a lot of knowledge, procedures and regulations that you have to be proficient with in order to pass your checkride (especially your Private Pilot checkride). However, I am done with my flight training and ready to go. My plan was to take it before spring break but bad weather, scheduling conflicts and a high workload in my other classes means I will have to wait until after we get back from spring break.

That’s all I’ve got for now, more to come in a week or so.