Merrick

About Merrick

Junior

Aerospace Engineering

Minor: Arabic Year: Junior Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia Campus Involvement: AFROTC, Honors Program, Women in Aviation, O-Team, Resident Advisor Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I chose Embry-Riddle for the passionate and studious campus atmosphere. Everyone seemed so motivated and friendly! I immediately wanted to contribute to that positive environment.

Staying Busy & SGA

Happy May everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Despite mostly having warm and sunny weather, this week we are experiencing Tropical Storm Arthur which means windy, rainy, and cold temperatures… therefore I will not be running outside.

I’ve been spending most of my time post-Spring semester, before summer classes begin, by enjoying this break throughout the month of May with lots of rest and a slower pace of living than I’m used to during the school year. My fitness favorites (rain or shine) have been via Youtube’s Yoga With Adriene and Popsugar Fitness channels, as well as Demi Bagby’s ab workouts and high intensity interval training (HIIT) videos. I have made it a point to do Popsugar Fitness’s 4 min arms video everyday thus far in May and I definitely think its working.

In other news I’ve been missing frequent visits to coffee shops and good vibe study spots, but I’ve managed to make do with creating a chill atmosphere at home with a combination of diffusing essential oils, bird watching (see below) and reading. I have been staying busy by getting outside when I can, but enjoying nature from inside when I’m unable to go outside too. My latests reading endeavors have been the Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran and House to House: An Epic Memoir of War by David Bellavia, quite a contrast but I do feel the balance of the two describe my interests well. 

New May adventures include an addition of a bird feeder where I can make coffee while observing visitors having breakfast.
Planted some herbs! Pictured here are lavender, sweet basil, thyme, and spearmint in the Herb planter bag (with a drainage hole for watering in case anyone was wondering)!

Additionally around the time of final exams I applied for a position on the Student Government Association (SGA). After an interview process, I am officially now an Associate Justice on the Student Court with the job of Clerk, meaning I’m responsible for communication to students regarding hearings and ticket appeal cases. I am very excited and grateful to hold this position and to have an additional platform be able to continue to serve the student body and the positive atmosphere at ERAU!

I have also hopped on the quarantine baking trend! I cheffed it up with some dark chocolate peanut butter brownies and a veggie quiche the other day!

Brownies!
Veggie Quiche!

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Transitions & Post-Semester Plans

Happy May everyone! Back again blogging from Virginia Beach, a bit of a transition from Daytona Beach. While the beaches are still closed as Virginia is on a stay at home order until June 10, the beach is currently open for exercising, fishing, and surfing, so keep checking back as I will provide updates on my latest adventures. Today is 80 degrees and sunny, I went for a 4.5 mile walk on the boardwalk when I woke up, followed by ten minutes of core exercises, 20 minutes of yoga, a 1.5 mile run, and a divine post run smoothie (truly smoothies taste better after a run, is there a science behind that? Aerospace Engineering has yet to lead me to that answer). I also had the privilege to lay in the sun today in the backyard for about an hour which was SO nice. 

The rest of my day I plan to do some more exercises and yoga, ride bikes to the market to hopefully scavenge some fresh fruits and veggies (the grocery store has been looking BARE, but I prefer local fresh produce anyway), and I will be watching either A Bug’s Life or Monsters, Inc. I haven’t decided yet. Tomorrow I have a Zoom Interview for a Student Government Association position on the Student Court as the Associate Justice, and a virtual Orientation Team meeting over Zoom to discuss new online Orientation preparation and training to best assist the incoming class of 2024’s transition to college life, which is very exciting.

I concluded the last week and the Spring 2020 semester with a Jet Propulsion exam, and Solid Mechanics final exam on the last day of finals week lasting until 9pm. I recently started my summer endeavors by having an interview over Zoom for my Arabic Language Oral Proficiency Placement Level and by submitting an essay in Arabic. Additionally, I transitioned from Northern VA staying with my sister, to Southern VA, and my current May plans include a lot of working out, social distancing, sleeping, and brushing up on some old material (grammar rules, vocabulary, and spelling will definitely be on the list of things I go over) before my summer Arabic classes begin.

A perk of being at my mom’s house is that she loves gardening and being outside when the weather is nice.

Some new plant babies!

My summer study abroad plans have been transformed into summer study domestic via online class plans, but I will still be participating in the Project Global Officer program (Project GO), available for all branches of ROTC students to apply to in order to spend a summer domestically or internationally learning a foreign language critical to national security needs as a professional development opportunity to help you better support the needs of the Department of Defense upon graduating college and commissioning.

More greenery that I will be co-habitating with for the duration of the summer.

Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

Finals & Staying Connected With Friends

Happy almost May everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, I have one more final exam to take from the comfort of my bedroom, and I’m SO excited for the semester to be finished.

Some small updates: I’ve recently discovered the Popsugar Fitness Youtube channel which is filled with great workouts ranging from a few minutes to over an hour and everywhere in between that are perfect to do while social distancing. You think the 4 min arms won’t get you, but let me tell you WHEW, it’s gold. Four minutes is a perfect way to get a small break from studying without losing your train of thought about a complicated Jet Propulsion problem.

The aftermath of my 4 hour Jet Propulsion Final Exam featuring iced coffee with dark chocolate oat milk

I have been turning to music a lot lately to deal with stress, calm down, and feel connected with my friends from far away. Spotify+Hulu+Showtime is only $5 a month for college students. On Spotify there is an option to make a Collaborative Playlist which is essentially an outlet for you to create something with your friends from far away, where all editors have the option to add/remove songs at their leisure.

My best friend and I always say that our lives parallel because we seem to feel the same emotions at the same times and despite moving away to different states for college, we go through a lot of similar experiences and feel the same ways. Different mood Collaborative Playlists are so helpful in situations where you miss the people you are close to, especially when you would be sharing the same songs or listening to them in person together if you had the chance. This is seriously an underrated way of connecting while social distancing that I highly recommend.

My most recent entertainment recommendations include: Insecure, a hilarious show with a great music soundtrack on HBO-Go, and Outer Banks, a suspenseful and dramatic show on Netflix that gives me nostalgia for living close to the water growing up. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video is also absolutely hilarious and based in the 1950s so the costumes, language, music, and overall culture are all extremely interesting.

In addition to studying and binge watching shows on my laptop, I have been getting in my daily yoga, workouts, and walks with my sister. Longer walks on the sunnier warmer days or weekends of course, we went on a 5 mile hike the other day and it was beautiful. Gaining some perspective in the midst of the global pandemic we are all facing is truly (and literally) a breath of fresh air.

Hiking with my sister!

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Online Classes & COVID-19

Happy March everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, and here’s how my schedule has changed since COVID-19 come in effect and I began taking online classes:

I still wakeup early and drink coffee and I still begin working from the very beginning of the day until the end of the day.

I spend more time working on class things now than before. This is partly because I had to spend two days packing and vacating from living on campus to moving back up north by myself. Usually move out occurs at the end of the semester, after finals, and I am able to have my friends/family help me pack. This time was extremely expedited, solo, and very stressful . . . on top of up in the air RA responsibilities and professors starting online classes and uploading lectures and assignments that I began to fall behind on. Moving out and going to a safe place where I was not at risk of becoming sick (from exposure to thousands of students returning from traveling over spring break) began taking precedence over me trying to stay on top of 60+ priority daily email notifications. 

So to say the least, my personal transition to online classes was very abrupt and sort of felt like I was running to keep up with a moving train. Quarantine preparation and move-out time were not originally factored into my Spring Break plan.

A selfie from the airport quickly traveling back from Daytona Beach to IAD, not pictured: a lot of hand sanitizer and a row to myself on the plane.
Flashback to waking up stress free and looking outside in Key West over Spring Break.

Once I traveled back home and transitioned to actually having time to spend on my online classes though here are a few things I’ve noticed:

Typical in-person classes in Aerospace Engineering are difficult, especially ones that are traditionally not offered as online courses (in the fall/spring as well as summer semesters) because they are too challenging. Now, take these courses with professors who are not the most technologically savvy, and force them to transition to teaching upper level engineering courses via a digital platform. In your head you might be thinking, that doesn’t sound like an idea that would flow very smoothly, and yes, I will tell you, indeed it does not.

Thankfully, however, flexibility is the key to Air Power and AFROTC has smoothly transitioned to hosting online classes and digital assignments to compensate for not having in person Leadership Laboratories, Physical Training sessions, and Air Force classes. That being said, it is significantly easier for classes that frequently rely on digital assignments and communication over online platforms to quickly and easily make a transition to solely remote learning.

I’ve had my first Solid Mechanics test online since digital courses began and even though most of the material was taught before spring break, it was still significantly more stressful as the constant worry of technical issues, distractions, or everyday life problems that occur in a home setting were looming around me (think power outages, that yes, of course happened to me 20 minutes prior to starting my exam).

I have come to the realization that I spend more time on my coursework now with online classes than I did with in-person classes because even with power-points, notes, and recorded lectures being uploaded, I am pretty much teaching myself material in addition to completing homework, projects, and “in-class” assignments on my own.

Verdict: I prefer in person learning to online classes.

Will report back soon folks, keep on keeping on, stay safe and stay well!

Quarantine & Self Care

Happy April everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, where I am blessed to be quarantined with my sister who is an amazing chef. Currently sipping on whipped iced coffee with coconut sugar and vanilla almond milk and it’s lovely. I would like to provide a Quarantine update as April is the last month in the spring semester, and focusing on your studies is as important as balancing that with time to relax.

Staying constantly plugged in is something I’ve definitely struggled with while adjusting to online classes. So when I’m not monitoring my laptop or my phone, here are some things I like to do in Quarantine besides study, take notes, and do homework:

If you have the luxury of living in a semi-rural to rural area, take walks, runs, or hike! I’m working out, taking vitamins, drinking a lot of water, running, going on walks, hikes, or hilly/wooded area treks, eating healthy, and doing yoga daily. My personal favorite is Yoga With Adriene on Youtube, a virtual online yoga class with everything to relaxing sequences to power yoga that will give your muscles a run for their money. I usually practice her videos in my dorm room at school when I don’t have time to go to a class at the fitness center and they are perfect to do in your backyard or in your house, while using safe social distancing techniques (6 feet bubble)!

Try to branch out from boredom by listening to new music, or tuning into free social media live-streamed digital concerts from your favorite artists.

Catch up on podcasts! For me Crime Junkie by audiochuck, The Long Distance Love Bombs Podcast by Dr. Jeremy Goldberg, and Press Send with Chinae Alexander by Dear Media are my favorites to stream on Spotify.

Catch up on some shows or movies!

Things I’ve personally been watching include:

Hulu: Dave, Little Fires Everywhere

HBO-Go: Euphoria, Ramy Youssef: Feelings

Netflix: On My Block, Night on Earth, Tiger King

Disney +: All of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Ice Age, Ratatouille

Social media cleanse! The rule I’ve been following lately is to unfollow any pages that does not inspire or motivate me, or if I don’t think I’d be willing to stop and have a conversation with someone in person, there is no reason why I would need to keep their life online, so I unfollow! Be picky about what you expose yourself to, it’s under-appreciated self care!

Side-note: The Spring 2020 AFROTC Det 157 patch design I collaborated with another Professional Officer Course (POC) cadet came back from production, so now we have a decal. I’m super excited about it (even if I won’t be able to physically have it until the Fall 2020 semester, @social distancing).

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Spring Break & Schedule Changes

Happy March everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, in quarantine for the n-th day, and WOW at the current global situation with COVID-19 currently afflicting the world…but honestly we should’ve left this one in 2019.

BUT FIRST, let’s flash back to the beginning of March when college students were about to go on Spring Break, COVID-19 seemed like a distant tragedy, and life only seemed stressful at average levels.

Greetings from Key West! Our postcard decal.

I spent Spring break with one of my best friends in Key West, Florida and even though it was still Florida, being on *basically* an island for a week was absolutely well needed. In the current situation, confined from the great public domain with a strict and paranoid 6ft rule of distancing from strangers, I am feeling greatly nostalgic of a week ago when I was happily soaking up sunshine and basking in the glory of constantly being sun kissed and barefoot with salt water hair and always a little bit sandy, despite all the showers I took.

A short lived windy bike ride to the Southern Most Point in the USA.
Being one with nature (currently reminiscing from inside my house).
A potato head selfie from the plane.

Key West had an extremely casual, laid back, go with the flow atmosphere which is completely opposite of my usually very busy and structured life. During the last few days of Spring Break we got an official university communication email saying that Spring Break would be extended two days into the following week and online classes would be happening until early April. At first this sounded like a fantastic and fun idea, until reality set in when we returned. When we got back to Daytona Beach, stores were starting to run out of food, the media seemed to be spreading paranoia, and everyone was panicking. A few days later residence halls were vacating and I prepared to come back to Virginia as there was talk about canceling flights and limiting domestic travel across state lines.

Fast forward a week and I’m in a quarantined lifestyle with online classes until the end of the semester, metros shut down inside Washington DC, Uber and Lyft currently closed, and Amazon not delivering groceries anymore, yikes!

To be continued folks, will report back soon, COVID-19 updates are around the corner!

Half Way & Happenings

Happy February everyone! Back again blogging from Daytona Beach, Speed Week has calmed downed, and we’ve been having some particularly mild weather: a bit cold and rainy, but Florida tends to be wonky before getting to the consistent sunshine with afternoon showers (aka nap time).

Valentine’s Day recently passed and February is flying by! Things around the corner include *drum roll please* Mid-term exams, the Spring PT test… and also, Spring Break! We’re almost half way through Spring semester and I can barely believe it! 

My sister sent me a very positive card, a super cute scrunchie, and some Namaste socks for V-day! I love care packages.

Some notable things I get to do with my position this semester in ROTC as the Mission Support Group, Force Support Squadron, Deputy Commander, aside from assist the Squadron Commander, are plan Dining Out, a yearly event where all cadets and cadre wear Service Dress (the fancy blues), gather for a meal, celebrate notable accomplishments of the Cadet Wing, and announce new Wing Staff for the following semester. I also have the amazing opportunity to team up with an upperclassman cadet and organize an Air Force Retirement Ceremony for a Major in our cadre. I have the privilege of gaining insight to this exciting event at a very young point in my career, which makes this opportunity THAT much cooler.

Another super cool thing I do in my position that I’ve particularly had a lot of fun with in preparation for Dining Out, is collaborating with other Professional Officer Course (POC) cadets to design the logo that will be on the Dining Out gift. I’ve got to work with a particularly talented POC cadet who I also collaborated with to help design the Spring 2020 AFROTC Detachment 157 Semester Patch.

Additionally, being an RA has been even more fun lately because I helped to organize a Tye-Dye event that will be happening shortly. I’ve attached the flyer I designed below, but essentially it’s an Area Initiative as a community builder for the residence hall I live in where we invite residents to come de-stress and get creative, and colorful!

Additionally, I recently solidified my summer plans, which was a huge stress relief and also an opportunity I anticipate to be extremely challenging and fun. I will be participating in Project GO Study Abroad in Morocco working on Arabic Year 4. More details to come on that, and I am very excited to give some future updates on my Arabic learning experience. Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

Speedweek & Summer

Happy February everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s going to be sunny and 85 degrees this week, and this weekend is going to be rainy and in the 50s…cold fronts are no fun!

This week is Speedweek at the Daytona International Speedway, but the racing season really started off with the Rolex 24 hour race, the Busch clash, some more qualifiers, and next weekend the Daytona 500. Every year AFROTC cadets volunteer at the speedway and work different race shifts, this past year a lot of other sports teams on campus volunteered too.

This week I start to hear back from a variety of summer programs I applied to in order to go abroad to a country in the Middle East to continue studying Arabic. I applied to programs in Jordan, Morocco, and Oman.

This week is going to be kind of hectic for me, but as usual I’m generally a busy person. I have PT, Arabic and Solid Mechanics homework due tomorrow, as well as updated Bulletin Boards for my wing in the hallway for my Resident Advisor position, followed by a lab report due on Tuesday, funds request forms, meetings, AFROTC leadership laboratory and more PT, and a Solid Mechanics test on Friday.

It’s times like this where I think back to my equally busy summers and appreciate the way I am constantly in the flow of working hard and making progress towards my future. Being in the middle of everything also gets me thinking about the future and how sometime between the next week and the next few months I’ll finalize my summer plans and figure out where I am studying abroad and which dialect of Arabic I’ll be focusing on. All very exciting things, but sometimes a little stressful not knowing what direction I’ll be going in. I just tell myself to keep trusting the process.

Will report back soon folks, midterms are around the corner, keep on keeping on!

HBD & Homesickness?

Happy January folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and it’s cold! You might be telling yourself, well it’s winter, but last week was 80 degrees and now the nights are in the 40s! You may say, okay, well wear a jacket and it’s warmer in the sun, and I agree those are great solutions, except when you’re at PT before the sun is up and it’s also extremely windy! Florida cold fronts are no fun, all in favor of bringing back beach weather say, “I!”.

As I sit here typing this blog, in between finishing an Electrical Engineering lab report, sending a slew of emails, finishing some essays, and in preparation to do homework for my Arabic and Solid Dynamics classes I have to add, I’m tired!

I worked a 12 hour shift yesterday at the Rolex 24 hour race at the Daytona International Speedway, so Sunday was my only “weekend”, if you constitute more than 12 hours of homework as a break? To say the least, I am looking forward to the end of this week and hopefully getting 12 hours of sleep!

In other news, my sister turned 28 last week! So, HBD-Happy Birthday!!! To a wonderful human, mentor, role model, overall good person who I aim to be like.

Something a friend who lives in Arizona asked me recently is, “How do you help your residents cope with homesickness?” I wanted to address this on my blog because you are not alone! There are so many college students who feel homesick, and I am here to offer you some great tips.

Tip 1: The Counseling Center, you can absolutely go to counseling to talk about your day or how you’re feeling, and they are professionals! 

Tip 2: Text/call/FaceTime/social media message your family when you miss them, or set up specific times or days in the week where you can sit down and talk to them! If it’s important to your mental health, add it to your schedule, that way you ensure it is your priority.

Tip 3: Make friends! College is full of people looking to find their “people.” My friends and I call it our vibe tribe, which isn’t necessarily what you have to call it, but have someone you can talk to, hangout with, study with, or just do nothing with. Homesickness dissipates when you are having fun and aren’t feeling lonely.

Some of my tribe & I!

Tip 4: Join a club, organization, ROTC, or a sports team! Be a part of something bigger than yourself. ERAU had an Activity Fair last week and there are SO many clubs and groups you can be a part of, it filled up the entire Lawn with tables! And if you can’t find the right club for you, you can always make your own! All you need is some friends and one faculty advisor and you’re in business.

There are so many things you can do to find a sense of community and a true “home away from home”. Find your people, find your place, and do your thing! Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks.

Updates & Welcome Back

Happy January everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, still reminiscing on winter break, but back a few days before classes start for my RA position doing Spring Training and preparing the residence halls for students to return.

Part of this prep includes the “new year new me” philosophy and I took part by getting a well needed hair cut.

Although I do love my friends at school, I have also found myself missing being around my family tribe at home. I got to travel a little bit along the east coast over winter break going to southern Virginia to Philly to DC then back Florida.

While I was in Philadelphia I got to visit and meet a bunch of my cousins! We also celebrated my brother’s birthday by attending a Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys football game at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles ended up winning against Dallas and as you can imagine, the post game fireworks and overall atmosphere of the stadium was one of a kind. It’s fitting that I wanted the Philadelphia Eagles to win just as much as I want the Embry-Riddle Eagles to win.

Yes, there are a lot of us, and yes we took up an entire row of seats. I highly recommend going to NFL games with a large group. It was my first game and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I am now off to finish hall decorations, make door tags, and do room inspections for my RA position. I also need to write some essays for applications for Study Abroad Programs for Summer 2020 to continue learning Arabic. Will include pictures of my hall decorations, classes I’ll be taking this semester once my schedule is finalized, and first week of school updates in my next post.

Keep on keeping on folks, happy New Year, and welcome back! Will report back soon!