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.

Moving In & Dorm Room MUSTS

Happy August everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and I’m officially moved in!

My sister drove me down from Virginia Beach and now I’m in Florida! 

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m smiling in this picture!

This year has brought a lot of changes globally and locally, as well as personally for me. Adjusting to all these changes builds resilience and helps to overcome adversity in the future.

Going into my fourth year at ERAU, the past three years I’ve had the amazing opportunity to live and work in the same resident hall, but this year things are changing! It’s definitely an uncomfortable switch, but these are uncomfortable times in general and thus far in my life I’ve learned a positive attitude and a little optimism go a long way. That being said, please enjoy these before and after photos of my new living space courtesy of my sister’s and my efforts.

Before of my dorm room!
Me, ready to clean and unpack (also smiling)!

Some dorm rooms necessities that I recommend for everyone include, but are not limited to:

An essential oil diffuser! I absolutely ADORE mine and when my space smells clean it helps me to feel a lot more relaxed and productive.

A Keurig! If you are a coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or instant broth/instant noodle consumer, Keurigs come in a bunch of cool colors and sizes that are perfect for a dorm room and since I thrive in living conditions that include both morning coffee and afternoon/evening/late night tea this is the perfect fit for my living space.

Snacks! My dorm room and overall college living essentials (especially on the BUSY days) are snacks! I personally like granola, nuts, cereal like Cheerios, dark chocolate chips, dried fruit, granola bars, apple sauce, protein powder for quick protein shakes if you’re in a hurry, and other drinks like Gatorade and Coconut water.

My cleaned and organized room!

My space definitely feels a lot homier now, as I tend to be a bit of a nomad and love to travel and take on new adventures. The last three summers since I’ve started college I’ve spent learning Arabic through Project GO and hopping around from the University of Kansas, to the University of Arizona, and this past summer I was supposed to travel to Meknes, Morocco to continue those studies before the global pandemic struck. My plans for next summer are to travel to Amman, Jordan and continue my Arabic studies with the aid of a Boren scholarship I received to continue my Arabic language explorations.

Keep on keeping on folks! Will report back soon, hopefully with a lot of my trainings complete and even more excitement for the adventure into the future.

Wrapping Up & Recapping

Happy August everyone! I am currently blogging from the road to Daytona Beach on an approximately 11 hour drive from Virginia Beach, Virginia back to ERAU-DB for the Fall 2020 semester (amidst a pandemic)! I will be recapping on my summer and my past week.

I am recently finishing up a slew of tests and final exams for the second semester of my ARB 406 Class – Advanced Arabic II, that I took this summer online through Project Global Officer (Project GO) via the University of Arizona. It has been a BUSY week to say the least, and a busy summer, and a busy year, but for now let’s focus on this past week leading up to my journey back to campus. I am arriving early this year because I have Resident Advisor (RA), Orientation Team (O-Team), Student Government Association (SGA) Student Court, and Peer Mentor Training for my position in University 101 (UNIV – 101) courses this year. I’m sure August will fly by, I have no problem staying busy!

This past week, I had two reading/writing tests for one hour each, a comprehensive two hour final exam, a three hour reading and listening test, an oral video project in Moroccan Arabic dialect, and an Oral Proficiency Interview for Project GO.

I’m definitely ending a chapter of my summer life, as the past two months Monday through Friday I’ve been in class, meetings, tutoring, language partner sessions, and study hall from 11:30am until 7:00pm everyday, not including homework, studying, projects, virtual zoom tours around the city in Meknes, Morocco on the weekends, cooking clubs, and cultural activities like guest speakers, presentations, and movies. When I tell people I took summer classes online, they don’t anticipate that I spent over 40 hours a week as culturally and linguistically “immersed” as I could be without leaving the USA. Because my routine was so busily scheduled recently, this past summer flew by for me! Things that have kept me sane were weekends in the backyard with my family, and cooking delicious vegan comfort food with my mother.

Vegan nachos via my mom and my dinner endeavors during my last week of final exams for my summer Arabic class.
Vegan pizza!
A pool day this past summer with my family!

The highlight of my summer was definitely spending it (virtually of course) in class with my friends speaking Arabic, going surfing at sunrise before my classes began, and discovering workout videos on Youtube (Popsugar Fitness and YogaWithAdriene are my faves!).

Some of my classes have already switched to online and it will definitely be strange to wear a mask around campus now, but I feel hopeful about the Fall semester and excited to embrace the changes needed to keep us safe!

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I will report back soon!

Routines & Realizations

Happy July everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, Virginia and I am loving the hot weather, despite having online classes that I keep me inside for most of the days.

The year 2020 in general has looked abnormal for a lot of people. I was originally supposed to be studying Arabic from Meknes, Morocco but right now I have officially finished my first semester of an intensive advanced Arabic course online through Project GO with the University of Arizona, which is how I spend 40+ hours a week dedicating my time.

When I’m not studying, in class, doing homework, meeting with professors, tutors, and language partners on Zoom calls I have had the amazing opportunity to go surfing in the mornings at sunrise. I even saw some dolphins in the water very close to my board recently! Moments like that remind me, despite how limiting my rigorous school schedule is all year round, it’s up to me to find a balance where I am enjoying life and finding happiness despite current situations.

Additionally, one of my favorite life hacks for online class is realizing that I can position my laptop on my kitchen counter while I’m in class so I can stand instead of sit which makes a HUGE difference in my overall mood and how my body feels (considering its approximately 8+ hours a day on Zoom calls).

I’ve been finding solace in working out with my friends or my sister from different parts of the country via Zoom, listening to music, podcasts, or classic Disney movies while I bake, and going for bike rides. 

I have really been loving roasting vegetables and baking because they make the entire house smell delicious while I’m inside all day and then I have delicious food to eat when I finish studying! Recently I’ve endeavored on vegan dark chocolate brownies, banana bread (2 different recipes), and a banana tarte tatin inspired by Nadiya’s Time To Eat on Netflix.

More vegan treats! From top left to right: more banana bread, almond vanilla berry puff pastries, dark chocolate brownies with walnuts and chocolate chips, and banana tarte tatin inspired by Nadiya’s Time To Eat on Netflix!

The plants that are thriving and keeping me sane in the garden recently are three types of basil, rosemary, beets, peppers (bell, banana, and jalapeño), beets, asparagus, thyme, and a plethora of other beauties that are bringing my happiness during this time.

I’ve also been trying to keep a semi-solid morning routine by waking up and putting a face mask or letting a face wash sit while I set essential oil diffusers, light candles, burn incense, start making coffee, do morning yoga, meditate, and/or read or write for a few minutes then continue on my day with either watering the plants, working out, going surfing, finishing some homework or last minute studying, and making breakfast.

My days are usually pretty packed until the late evenings around 7pm when I do another short workout and some yoga before showering, finishing up more homework/studying, eating dinner and repeating the process. In the chaos and long days my free time in the mornings are definitely my most favorite and sacred part of my day where I get to reflect and connect with my wellbeing before channeling my energy towards school all day.

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I will report back soon into my second semester of intense online advanced arabic!

Announcements & Roles

Happy June everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, VA and I found out I’m going to be a Peer Mentor for University 101 (UNIV 101) for the Fall 2020 semester! University 101 is a class exactly what it sounds like, essentially a “How-To” for the behind the scenes (ie paperwork) side of college navigation, a *sometimes* confusing yet necessary aspect of university life. Most engineering students take this course, while Aeronautical Science, Aviation, and Business students attend a slightly different version of the class catered towards their unique degree paths.

A Peer Mentor for UNIV 101 is a leadership position available to graduate and undergraduate students as a learning coach, student advocate, trusted peer, and source of information about the University and its offerings/resources. I like to see it as an extension of being on Orientation Team as an O Team Ambassador. In this position I will be in the UNIV 101 class sessions (sort of like a Teacher’s Assistant) and help students become familiar with university resources such as ERNIE, Canvas, and Campus Solutions. I will be an additional resource for answering questions like locating advisor information, finding the course catalog, online registration, navigating placement evaluations, and Academic Study Plans!

In Air Force ROTC we make academic study plans mapping out our classes for each semester up until graduation, which is very helpful in ensuring you meet all of your course requirements for a timely graduation and something that the UNIV 101 course immensely facilitates and provides resources to help you plan and communicate with your Academic Advisor.

Recently reflecting, I realized I hold a lot of leadership positions on campus.

I am a Student Blogger (of course),

a Resident Advisor (RA),

an Orientation Team Ambassador (O Team Ambassador),

a Student Government Association (SGA) Student Court Associate Justice where I am the acting Clerk (essentially a spokesperson),

in Air Force ROTC with the leadership position I am assigned as a Professional Officer Course (POC) Cadet for the semester,

and now a Peer Mentor for University 101 as well…. In addition to getting a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a Minor in Arabic Studies, and miraculously I still find time to workout!

My current progress!

If anyone has questions on time management or any of the positions/organizations I’m a part of, feel free to reach out on this platform or if you see me around campus! Additionally if I specifically am not a part of a group that you want to join, there is a high chance that I know someone who is and I can put you in contact with them!

My summer classes have officially kicked off and we’re almost halfway through summer which is mind boggling to me. As my third summer participating in Project Global Officer learning Arabic I can say that I definitely prefer in-person learning as compared to online courses. Learning a new language in itself is difficult, but sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day is almost more difficult to me.

I will report back soon on how my language learning is progressing over Zoom, and more information about my current summer class schedule and how my on campus leadership positions impact my time management during the fall. Stay safe everyone!

Current Events & Coping

Happy June everyone! Recent times have been increasingly trying given the current global and nationwide issues that are being brought to light. Progress is only achieved through change, adapting, and overcoming obstacles through education, activism, action, and solidarity. I am proud that Embry-Riddle has spoken in support of both safe health practices and in support of promoting positive change in our society. There are a lot of emotions coming to surface for many people right now, so I’m here to assure you that during times of uncertainty, change, and progress it’s so important to educate yourself on topics that impact our society, culture, government, and ways of living!

There are so many amazing resources to help with activism, education, and coping for the current situations facing our country. It’s SO important to remember you are not alone! It’s important to educate yourself and others, and stand up for your beliefs.

On top of all the stressors of everyday life, I’m taking Arabic language classes this summer with Project GO through the University of Arizona and I had my second Language Testing Institute Initial Arabic Oral Proficiency Exam yesterday – digitally, which lasted approximately 45 minutes over the phone while connected over Zoom with a testing proctor. Finding a balance between how I can help others while not neglecting the effort I’m putting in working on myself has probably been one of my biggest struggles lately.

A preferred place to clear my mind from last summer in San Diego, CA.

I am here to share with you some options I have found that are great tools to help cope during the current socio-political climate in modern day times, if you too are feeling like things are out of your control, the future is uncertain, or if you are angry, frustrated, sad, or feeling any other emotion as a response to the happenings in the world, or in your life, today.

  1. Establish a routine. Even though there are many uncertain events occurring, it’s important to establish at least a small sense of security and routine. Even if your routine is stretching, meditating, or having a coffee when your wake up. I find when I schedule time to work out in my day I feel more accomplished, sleep better, and am overall happier despite current frustrations. Sometimes napping, reading, or eating at a certain time can be beneficial as well. Make your routine personal, and beneficial to you and your well being.
  2. Have time to decompress, center yourself, breathe, or reflect, otherwise known as “you time” or down time. Find something you enjoy that can help you relax and clear your thought process so that your thoughts and actions can become reflections of the change, progress, or version of yourself that you wish to see and share with the world.
  3. Reach out if you need help! There are many people who are struggling and feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about current situations. Reach out the Counseling Center or to a trusted friend to talk it out. You are not alone and your feelings are valid.
Another preferred place to clear my mind from last summer in Tucson, AZ.

To recharge after a long day, I’ve been finding solace in working out and doing yoga over Zoom with my sister and my friends daily, in addition to getting fresh air. If I’m in the mood to laugh, I have been watching Space Force on Netflix or Ramy on Hulu. If I feel like breathing and centering myself, I’ve been taking bike rides, going for walks, surfing, watching classic Out of the Vault Disney movies on Disney Plus, and having in-depth conversations with my friends in our group chats. Our natural reactions and feelings towards current events are completely valid and we have the choice to express those thoughts and emotions in positive ways that promote change, equality, and principles we stand for and believe in either through love or through fear. I employ you to lead with your heart, choose love, and know that you are not alone, I stand with you. Will report back soon! 

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!