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.

Hope & Half-Way

Happy October folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, we’re about halfway through the semester, almost a month away from finals, and I’m so excited to visit Virginia again come Winter Break.

Mid-terms the past couple weeks were not easy. From my personal experience, college students are some of the most stressed out group of humans I have ever encountered. Maybe it’s because we’re all navigating excessive hours of homework, studying, class, and other university obligations, and there’s somehow only 24 hours in a day? I have found that I am currently coming out of the stressed wave from midterms and the only thing to do now is to keep cruising full speed ahead until the end of the semester. Stay on the grind of prepping for quizzes, doing homework, studying, and using the down time (can it really be considered down time?) between exams to mentally prepare for finals season.

Student Court’s group photo channeling Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ie Harry Potter vibes.

I have been enjoying the little moments recently. This especially includes the few and far between coveted days I get the luxurious chance to sleep in. I also have been feeling very grateful for the little moments I get to catch up with old friends, girl gang brunches never get old especially when they haven’t happened in a few weeks.

This semester has been mentally exhausting, whether it’s from online classes, a global pandemic, general life stressors, or a cumulation of everything, everyone I’ve encountered seems a little off. Navigating “normal” life with so many abnormal aspects doesn’t feel right. Check on your friends! The world could use a little more compassion, understanding, and connection right about now. I am extremely hopeful for the end of the semester and SO excited to use Winter Break to catch up on sleep and mentally recharge.

I have surprisingly made some new friends this semester and even though our interactions are limited to Microsoft Teams calls studying or phone calls, the little bit of connection feels extremely comforting in the cold virtual aura that online classes have presented.

A visual representation of how the Student Court feels about being a little over half way through the Fall 2020 semester.

In other news, SGA Student Court has been going great! As the newest Associate Justice to the team I’m constantly learning and increasing my understanding of how the university functions and its rules, policies, and regulations. We meet virtually once a week to give updates, work on appeal cases, and do other courtly duties. I am so happy to be on such a great team with motivated, hard working, and dedicated individuals who strive to advocate for students. Generally I like to think the universe is for me, and so is everything else, but particularly in this case I can 100% say the Student Court is for you, and I am too.

Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks!

Breaks, Balance, & Burnout

Happy October everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s Midterm season and the Fall 2020 semester is halfway over!

I am very excited for Thanksgiving break, taking finals from home (with my sister’s amazing cooking), and an extra long winter break. I originally didn’t expect that having 3-day weekends canceled this semester would have a huge impact on me, but I was definitely wrong. Today’s topic is how to take small breaks when you can, and prevent burnout.

Pre-COVID family moments that have me looking forward to the extra long winter break this year!

Health is a dynamic part of everyone’s life, and it plays a huge role in how you’re doing academically. This semester I’ve been busier than ever, which is still astonishing to me. Navigating full weeks of classes back-to-back filled with lab reports, essays, homework, quizzes, and exams is rough! Time management and self care will be your key to success. 

Set goals! I keep an outline of my weekly schedule, with recurring class times, meetings, study group sessions, and homework times. I fill in the rest of my free time as my responsibilities change every week with (typically) more homework, workouts, and meetings. Knowing your limits is important. Sometimes you have to gauge if an extra hour of sleep is more important than an extra hour spent studying, or vice versa. I try to keep a similar bedtime every day to keep my schedule consistent. By trying my best to stick to my schedule and by checking off boxes on my to-do lists everyday, I find consistency in the chaos. 

My AFROTC Fall 2020 photobook picture.

You will most certainly find me on a Friday or Saturday night doing homework and going to bed by 8pm from being mentally exhausted at the end of a long week. I’m at the point in the semester where I am heavily reliant on coffee and internal motivation. I find I thrive when I am fairly busy, but there is a fine balance between healthy workloads that challenge you to grow, and feeling burnt out and exhausted. Rest and recovery are equally as important as grinding to get your assignments done and hard workouts. Progress comes with balance!

Hydration, quality sleep, healthy eating, time to de-stress, and time to process what you’re learning in your classes are all very important! I have in-person PT once a week with AFROTC, one Remote-PT, and an in-person LLAB, so I usually wake up fairly early. On the nights before, I set my alarm very early in the morning, I try to go to bed as early as possible, and set my future self up for success by laying out my uniform, prepping my gear, and making sure that if there are steps I can take the night before that will give me a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning, I take them.

Sometimes this is as simple as pouring water in my Keurig and filling my reusable pods with coffee grounds, but it makes a huge difference in my morning routine if all I have to do is press a button when I’m half asleep in the morning. For you this might look like studying for a quiz the night before instead of the morning of, or prepping your cover sheets for your homework assignments for the week on Sunday evenings. Set your future self up for success, anything I can do to make my future self’s life easier, more peaceful, or more well rested, I try to do.

My preferred schedule (that I adored sticking to over the summer) started with me waking up to the sunrise (preferably doing yoga and going surfing) and going to bed at sunset. My Fall 2020 school schedule doesn’t allow for my leisurely preferences, but I am very hopeful that my winter break will be filled with hiking, resting, lots of sleep good food, and my sister’s new puppy! My motivation lately has been looking forward to the future.

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

Fall & Figuring It Out

Happy September everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and I recently bought my plane ticket for winter break to head back to Virginia for Thanksgiving and virtual finals.

The first day of fall is very near and I am so excited for the air to start getting crisp and chilly, with rainy Florida fall days. Additionally, I’ve been very busy lately and it still boggles my mind how taking less credit hours (12) with more virtual classes, fills up my schedule more than taking 18 credit hours with in-person classes. I’m still adjusting and learning how to set boundaries, which is proving very tricky indeed. There is an unfortunate expectation with online classes that because classes are virtual, students are readily available 24/7, but I’m quite exhausted. There is a balance between virtual classes and life, and I feel like teachers, students, and staff are all figuring it out together.

My bitmoji enjoying some meditation after a long day.

Today my schedule consists of yoga, working out, breakfast, blogging, Aerospace Structures I homework, working on essays for study abroad program scholarships for Summer 2021, writing an essay for my Air Force class on a national security issue of choice, more study abroad scholarship applications, writing a letter to my brother as he is currently at basic training, an ROTC meeting, working on an Experimental Aerodynamics lab report virtually with my lab partner, going to get my daily wellness check, printing a slew of items, preparing myself for PT tomorrow (ie filling up my camelbak with water, laying out my PT gear, yoga because my muscles are sore and still recovering), and then sleep!

Teachers typically assume I have extraneous free time to relax on Saturdays and Sundays, but my weekends are equally as busy as my weekdays. I could use a 3 day weekend to get caught up on everything right about now. I am looking forward to the end of the fall semester, putting down my laptop and phone, and relaxing.

In other news my sister got a new puppy that I am so excited to meet when I return to Virginia in late November. Taking virtual finals with a tiny mascot seems like an amazing stress relief.

My sister’s new puppy Dasiy!

To be continued folks, keep on keeping on, stay safe and studious, will report back soon!

September & Self Care

Happy September everyone! I am currently blogging from the road to Daytona Beach, FL navigating a half online semester half in-person semester in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s interesting to say the least. The first official day of Fall is Tuesday, September 22, 2020 and I’m looking forward to that.

Three day weekends have been canceled this semester as we aren’t coming back to campus post-Thanksgiving for finals season. Which takes the joy out of looking for a short break every few weeks and transforms the semester into more of an ultramarathon, with no breaks! Pandemic navigation on campus during these new unprecedented times can be challenging to say the least.

Things that have been keeping me sane throughout the pandemic are splurging on little self care luxuries like:

Setting technology boundaries! Try not to check your phone after a certain time every evening, or at least try to distance yourself from it directly before you go to bed.

I’ve been forcing myself to do a lot more yoga and be super compassionate with myself on days when my energy isn’t extremely high.

Trying to eat a balanced diet! Fresh fruits and veggies are extremely important and food effects how your body feels, your mood, and your energy.

I bought a fall essential oil to diffuse in my room and make my space more cozy and peaceful. Autumn is my favorite season and I love all the colors and flavors that go along with it, so Plant Therapy’s Maple Leaf Essential Oil Blend was a no brainer for me, especially considering how often I use and appreciate it.

Since I’m in AFROTC my nail polish has to be conservative and compliment my skin tone, thankfully I am still slightly sun kissed from summer so I got a cozy burnt orange fall Essie color that makes me really happy when I’m wearing it, which coincidentally was inspired by bazaars in Morocco (where I was supposed to study abroad this past summer).

My Starbucks Pumpkin Spice coffee grounds also make my mornings a little sweeter, specifically when adding oat milk and a dash of cinnamon. 

My hall decorations are fun and light hearted for the semester being Pac-Man themed!

Some of my hall Pac-Man decorations!

I hope you are finding solace in the little things and treating yourself with favorite items, music, activities, and spending time with people who help you feel your best.

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

Balance & Busy Schedules

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida pulling a power weekend (meaning I’m on call working at my Resident Advisor position) after following a power week of working 12+ hours daily jumping from Orientation Team activities to RA move in shifts and I feel like I haven’t had time to catch my breath, even though classes haven’t actually started yet.

I’ve spent most of August hopping from trainings and working with the same people (masks ON Eagles). My residents are finally moving in and I’m very excited to meet everyone, even if it is primarily over email, GroupMe, or Zoom meetings. Between door decorations, hall decorations, bulletin boards, presentations, meetings, welcome and orientation events, it’s a wonder I’ve even been getting sleep lately. We LOVE good time management skills.

Much to my surprise, I’ve still found time to do yoga every morning and alternate my calisthenic workout days with my cardio days in between my busy schedule. I am a firm believer that people make time for what is important to them. For example, if you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with obligations and options make a list and prioritize your commitments. Be SURE to include your commitments to your self care too! Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are very important to a well balanced lifestyle.

O Team with my favorite leader!

Most questions I get related to college life from new students are centered around academics, which are extremely important, but not to the extent that you neglect your well being.

Story time! My first semester of college I was getting between 4-6 hours of sleep every night and I was mentally not in a great place, even though I was giving academics the majority of my attention. While there may be many outlying influencing factors in this, my second semester of college I made an agreement with myself to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Amazingly, I found that my final letter grades were identical in ratio to my first semester, with no deviations.

Only did my grades start improving when I started focusing on my ACTUAL wellbeing, my overall health, and balancing my time between myself and everything else.

O-Team is our favorite team!

In high school, middle school, and elementary school I took a fair share of mental health days, didn’t go to class on my birthday, and most certainly didn’t go to school if I was sick. When I got to college I was extremely stressed and constantly felt like I was trying to catch up and compete to not fall behind in the work culture.

What you give your time and energy to is SO important, and a little self care goes a LONG way. If I am crunched on time and need to decide on an extra hour of sleep or an hour of working out, my answer constantly changes depending on how I’m feeling and what I need to accomplish for that day or for the next day. You have to make the best decisions for yourself. Set boundaries. Don’t stretch yourself too thin! Prioritize your time, energy, and commitments, while reflecting back on your needs.

Will report back soon folks! Keep on keeping on!

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!