Merrick

About Merrick

Sophomore

Aerospace Engineering

Minor: Arabic Year: Sophomore 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.

RA Life, AFROTC, & Rest

Happy December everyone! Finals are over!!! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, but in a few hours I’ll be in Orlando departing from MCO, then I’ll be heading back home to Norfolk, Virginia. 

Just a brief recap of fall 2018 before the new year and spring semester begins: This has single-handedly been the most challenging semester of my life, but I passed all of my finals and my classes, friends, so thank you so much for the support. Key shout-outs here go to the boxing girls and my best friend Obie wan.

Many students have already left Daytona, but RAs are the last ones to leave (as well as the first ones back) as we do health and safety inspections and have to check all the rooms to prepare our residence halls for shutting down and for opening back up to residents. Fret not though, this process only takes a few days and after that is freedom. 

I am so excited to be able to relax over break. I’m sure it will be filled with all the things I love and only get to have sparingly while I’m in college, including but not limited to: lots of working out, home cooked meals with fresh vegetables, yoga (YESSS), seeing my best friend home from college, living walkable distance from the beach, my dog Kita, and also my family. I may read a book for leisure, shocking I know, as well as listen to lots of music. I also will be sleeping in glutenous amounts and will be going to all my favorite local coffee shops. Taking a break every once in a while is so well needed and deserved for both students, professors, and faculty. Everyone has been working so hard since August, we all really deserve this chance to reset, relax, and recharge before the spring.

Next semester in AFROTC will be Field Training Preparation which is extremely exciting as well because after that comes Field Training during the summer, which is one step closer to commissioning and graduation. Field Training in a nut shell is essentially a 15 day “boot camp” which is very strenuous and is a required step to complete before GMC (General Military Course) underclassman become POC (Professional Officer Course) upperclassman in fall 2019. Over Thanksgiving my early Christmas present was new running shoes and, although I feel I’ve broken them in, as soon as next semester hits I will probably rethink that.  

Some of my family from AFROTC and me after our final Pass in Review ceremony of the semester

Also here’s a picture from when I contracted around this time last year and swore into the United States Air Force, which if I haven’t mentioned before, was an absolutely amazing experience and I 10/10 recommend.

But for now, we are in break and de-stress mode and I will continue to get through the holidays with an open mind, lots of exercising and stretching, and good food. I miss cooking so much, but one thing I do not miss though is the cold weather. Perhaps I’ll have a white Christmas in Virginia? I do prefer the moderate climates a bit more though, as per expected with the majority of my year spent in Florida and other hot places.

For everyone traveling this holiday season, or even just driving a few minutes away, remember to de-stress and relax over break and state safe. Will report back soon! Happy holidays and almost happy new year!

December & Almost Done!

Happy *drum roll please* December everyone! ‘Tis ACTUALLY the season, thrilling, I know. I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, but I spent Thanksgiving in Savannah, Georgia and in Charleston, South Carolina, also thrilling. Thanksgiving was a well needed break and now until the semester officially concludes is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: final exam season.

Over the break I did a good amount of homework, but probably not as much as I should have done. There is always an endless supply of homework in college, but I also got to relax a little bit which was well worth it. So really, it was a win because I also took a lot of naps whenever I could.

Thanksgiving naps!


Example A: a sleeping portrait of yours truly during a Thanksgiving nap photographed by my lovely sister.

In addition to the naps, my family and I ran a 4 Mile Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning! We also explored downtown Savannah, and I drank a lot of coffee as per usual. My idea of relaxing includes sleep and caffeine, so naturally I partook in both, I hope everyone got to relax and recharge before finals begin!

Example B: If you’re ever in Savannah I recommend the Coffee Fox coffee shop, yum!

We also went to Tybee Island and saw the lighthouse, the beach, a lot of stray cats, and dolphins!

Tybee Island Lighthouse!

I also played photographer, and the lighthouse was in the back of the picture I took for the ‘rents.

Sometimes you must lay on the ground for the best angles. (Shoutout to Puddle + Sushi for making it on the blog.)

I had such a nice time over break and, unfortunately, it was short lived, but winter break is around the corner and the finish line is near! Although all students are pretty much experiencing the same feelings right now, wishing they had more time for sleep and less of the high doses of stress that finals bring, the marathon will conclude before we know it. It is the last week of classes and there is so much to look forward to. Just a small reminder to push out until the end, it is worth it, and despite the late nights, early mornings, highly caffeinated days, and stress, the finish line is near and we are on the final stretch!

Will report back soon. Study hard and keep moving forward friends!

CPR & Subtle Changes

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, but next week will be the Thanksgiving holiday, and henceforth I will temporarily venture up north into the cold for a few days (yikes)! Of course before the break there is still a lot to get done, inclusive of tons of homework, finals in AFROTC, and a rogue Statics test, but nonetheless fear not, the end is near.

I’m so excited to see my sister again at Thanksgiving!

Something I want to focus on as the weather gets colder and the semester starts wrapping up, is that although routines are pretty much set at this point, as winter and the holiday season nears, typically people associate New Years as being a time for change, which is natural. This is just a friendly reminder that you don’t have to wait until a certain day to initiate change, life is short, and the choices you make today will inevitably effect your tomorrow, so make them positive!

As I typically spend my Friday nights going to boxing classes and working on physics lab reports, recently I spent an atypical Friday night getting CPR certified with some other AFROTC cadets, which led me to reflect on how the small changes I’ve been making in my life lately are having an impact.

Some recent subtle, yet influential, changes I’ve made in my life lately:

-Trying my best to get as much sleep as possible (yes, even if that means my Friday nights consist of working out and homework)

Waking up to this wonderful view every morning is such an underrated but amazing aspect about being here.

-Working out more with friends, although I enjoy working out alone, my schedule is usually very busy and I don’t have much time to “hang out” with people. The solution to this problem, is you guessed it-coffee. Just kidding! Killing two birds with one stone, working out with friends gives you the physical benefits of working out, PLUS all the psychological and mental benefits that hanging out with friends provides such as stress relief, good conversation, extra motivation, and happiness. 

(Side note: study groups and homework sessions with friends inclusive of coffee can also be very beneficial when they are focused and productive.)

Morale PT with my flight!

-Making a solid effort to practice yoga more (preferably in the mornings before a long day, or in the evenings after a stressful day or a lot of homework and studying)

-I went to the chiropractor for the first time in my life! If you’re a student at ERAU going to see the chiropractor at Palmer Chiropractic Clinic in Daytona Beach is completely free, and something I highly recommend if you’re stressed or want to make some time to reset with an adjustment. I had originally gone because a friend recommended it to help alleviate being sore from working out, but they help with tense muscles from stress too!

-Switching to Dark Mode on my laptop (just wow friends). For Apple product users if you use Mac or MacBook this setting is life changing, especially when studying late at night. I strongly suggest using the Night Shift option which changes the screen brightness to less intense colors so if you’re working on a computer for long hours it isn’t so strenuous on the eyes. I use the Do Not Disturb option too, which silences notifications, that you can preset for certain times daily where your phone will be completely silent. I have mine set to automatically activate from 2200 to 0300 so I know at least every night I will have a minimum of  5 hours quiet time, whether I be up studying or (preferably, but not always realistically) asleep.

Will report back soon y’all. Have a safe Thanksgiving break!

‘Tis the Season & Twenty

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, as per usual. October absolutely flew by, and the semester is almost over, only about a month and a half to go. Final stretch!

I have a feeling November will fly by too, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and the atmosphere is changing. Theres so much energy flowing around campus right now. Everyone is tired but very busy. We’re all rushing around in our own little worlds consumed with the list of things we need to get done before the end of the semester. At this point our routine is (for the most part) pretty well established, and we flow from this routine into the winding down portion, right before intense late-night study sessions and cramming for finals. Midterms are about over with, but there are still a lot of projects and presentations happening. The weather is dropping a couple degrees, it’s finally starting to feel like fall, or maybe just Florida’s version of winter? Did I hear winter PT gear anyone?!

Along with the cold weather, ‘tis the season for beach PTs, pumpkins, cornucopias, and you guessed it- it’s always coffee season!

Beach PT with the Bravo Bandits!

Some of my favorite parts about the end of the semester are Late Night Breakfast hosted ERSA, which is the Embry Riddle Student Association, Pass in Review (PIR) for AFROTC, and of course shout out to the teaching assistants (TAs) and all the professors hosting supplemental instruction (SI) sessions. Also, at this point, every college student knows your professor’s office hours and the tutoring center will become your best friend.

Since studying and homework take up so much time at this point in the year, my favorite study music and backtracks to doing homework to are FKJ, Masego, the Chillhop Music station on YouTube because they have (literally) hours of relaxing songs, and any beats with Alan Watts inducing knowledge and creativity into my thought process while I crank through Calculus.

It’s important to note that although the semester is getting intense, you should still try to take time for yourself at least once a week. This past week I took five minutes to watch the new animated movie trailer for The Grinch. I must say I am starting to get into the winter mood, and also I very much want to see this movie, although it probably won’t happen until winter break, but it is a great incentive to push out until the end of the semester.

Side note: I turned 20! My birthday was filled with coffee, classes, studying for tests, homework, and my physics lab (so it was pretty much an average day). Fortunately, I did manage to squeeze a few minutes to go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins. It’s the little things folks.

Despite the flannel, it was about 80 degrees when we visited the pumpkin patch.

Birthday/Halloween pumpkins. Guess which one’s mine!

Will report back soon yall. Until then keep on keeping on, and in the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “be kind to one another”.

Fall Break & Breeze

Happy October everyone! October is my favorite month, and therefore it is appropriate to wish you all a Happy October. I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida.

I spent my fall break on campus working duty day shifts for my RA position, doing physics, statics, and calculus homework, and running! Although the last part may not sound like the best part for some people, the running was actually my favorite part of every day. Also fear not, as per usual I drank lots of coffee and tea.

My fall break didn’t feel like much of a break, but I am extremely thankful that I got to sleep in, or in other words have the luxury of waking up when the sun has already woken up. I must say I do enjoy being awake as the sun rises, but when I don’t get back to my room until it’s dark outside as per a typical school day, by the time I do homework, study, and get ready for bed I’m absolutely exhausted.

Even on my days off I usually wake up with the sun.

Aside from all of my responsibilities, my plants are thriving and deserve to be highlighted this week. I highly encourage succulents or cacti for dorm plants because even if you don’t have enough time to water them (me), they still do great with a little sunlight and a lot of positive energy (also me).

Some of my dorm plants!

As it is still hot in Florida, even though it’s late October, we’ve had great weather that’s been perfect for early morning beach PTs with AFROTC, which is always nice. It’s becoming the time of year when the weather is almost perfect for working out. I gauge the prime temperature for running to be when the air is cool enough that you aren’t sweating before you start working out, but not too cold that it stings your lungs. If it is cold enough that you are able to see your breathe when you exhale, I would prefer the temperature to increase slightly. Thankfully, in Florida, the weather ranges between extremely hot, mildly hot, temperate, and cool, but the cool doesn’t happen until about mid-winter, so lately the fall breeze had been extremely lavish!

Post beach PT with some of my favorite wingmen!

Currently we’re about half way through the fall semester and everyone around campus is extremely busy. Course loads are heavy, there’s lots of homework to be done, tests, quizzes, projects, presentations, and not a lot of time. In my personal experience I’m still on the journey to figuring out how to balance everything. I’ve heard so many times from professors that they encourage students to prioritize school work and really focus on their time management, and while this is true, I must counter this from the perspective of a college student- realistically there are not enough hours in a day. All we can do is try our best and hope for the best. Just keep swimming folks, will report back soon!

October & AFROTC

Happy October everyone! October is my favorite month and everything about fall is also the best. I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Small (yet critical) life update: I passed the AFOQT! The AFOQT, which stands for the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test is a standardized test that all cadets in AFROTC detachments across the country take to determine if they are apt to become Air Force Officers.

Now, there is SO much more than just the AFOQT that goes into preparing to commission as an officer in the United States Air Force. Although I’m not officially there yet, the journey I’m on includes a lot of early morning trainings, leadership laboratory sessions, physical training with the rest of the cadet wing (along with working out outside of scheduled PT sessions), and of course working on the class requirements for my degree!

Being a cadet in AFROTC here at Embry Riddle has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences and is hands down what I’m most proud to be a part of on campus. A phrase that is constantly reiterated to cadets here is that we are a family, and it’s extremely true! We workout together, we study together, we overcome obstacles together, and we get a flight of about twenty people who are always willing to grab dinner, its a pretty good deal.

Some of my favorite wingmen and I after a workout.

We recently celebrated the Air Force’s birthday and had a series of competitions within the wing between flights in events such as capture the flag, tug of war, relay races, and a poster and flag contest.

My Flight with the Colonel after a tug of war contest!

Just to clarify- the wing is composed of every cadet in AFROTC, which is then subdivided into groups, squadrons, and flights. Within flights of about twenty people there are subdivisions as well, but for right now we’ll just focus on big picture terminology.

Another exciting thing about going to college in Daytona Beach, being a part of Detachment 157, and going to Embry Riddle, is the exciting opportunities cadets have that are specific to this area. Some of my favorites are beach workouts and the Speedway run! Most recently we completed a morale physical training session on the beach where we got to workout by running and performing calisthenics right along the coastline as the sun rose. The weather here in Florida is typically in the upper 80s in October, and the early mornings are the perfect time to get exercise in, especially surrounded by a family of 400 members, AND at the beach. It really doesn’t get better than this folks, I’m motivated just thinking about it.

Flight picture after a beach PT!

Will report back soon!

Fall & Focusing on Commitments

Happy Fall everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida (yes, once again).

The first month of the semester is almost coming to an end and it truly has flown by. I’ve been so busy with classes, working out, homework, RA obligations, and trying to balance my work and school life. A key aspect of being successful when having a lot on your plate that I talked about before is balance. More specifically that can be boiled down to time management, i.e. planning and prioritizing, but in addition to those is staying true to yourself and your principles.

View from my dorm in the morning, I try to start every day with a positive outlook!

When I first got to college everyone told me to sign up for as much as possible and get very involved, then once I figured out what I liked the most and what I wanted to devote my time to, to narrow down what I was involved in to only what was most important to me. Embry-Riddle offers so many amazing clubs, extracurricular activities, and organizations on campus, but realistically it would be impossible to spread yourself so thin by trying to do everything, we’re only human. A kind of time management “rule” I’ve come up with for myself that’s helped me through college and life in general is that once I commit to something, it becomes my priority.

For example, if I find out two weeks in advance that a teacher is holding a Supplemental Instruction (SI) session before a test, I put it in my calendar and commit to it. Then, (also hypothetical) a week before the SI session, I find out an organization I’m involved in is volunteering for an event on campus scheduled for the same day and time as the SI session. This now presents a dilemma, because volunteering with friends would be more fun and the organization might be something I really care about, but I have to stay true to my word. Rule of thumb: even if the commitment is only to yourself, hold yourself accountable to your commitments. Reliability is a great skill to have and now is the perfect time to develop it. When I commit to something I give 100% of my effort, and you should too!

Photo from an AFROTC event!

Outside of being extremely busy lately, I am still trying to make time for myself and keep a positive attitude. Classes are challenging, and maintaining balance is sometimes difficult too, but parting words my friends: when you look at all of your responsibilities and commitments as items you have an opportunity to participate in or complete, your to-do list becomes less of a dread and more of something you’re lucky to be a part of.

Just keep swimming folks! Will report back soon!

September & Self Care

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, where I currently predict I will be in for the next few months. Although when I typically think of September I think of Fall, here in Florida it still feels excessively like summer with the high temperatures and humidity. Fun fact: the first day of fall is September 22!

Classes have officially begun and are in full swing. This semester I’m taking 18 credits, which are comprised of classes such as Statics, Thermodynamics, Physics for Engineers III, Physics Lab for Engineers, Honors Calculus and Analytical Geometry III, Arabic, and of course my Air Force Leadership Laboratory and Air Force class. Outside of classes my schedule includes my duty day work shifts for my Resident Advisor position, homework, studying, working out either at the gym or outside when the weather isn’t too hot around campus, drinking coffee, and sleeping! I also attend the occasional group fitness class at the gym and like to add Boxing Conditioning, BodyPump, and Yoga sessions to my schedule when I can.

Trying not to take life (or yoga) too seriously!

As most of you know, college at Embry-Riddle is intense and while it’s good to be involved and stay busy, it’s always good to take time for yourself to unwind and relax too. Life is about balance, and overexerting yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally isn’t healthy at the moment, and is especially unhealthy in the long run. In my first year at Embry Riddle I’ve truly learned to appreciate the importance of balance, through trial and error of course. Recently, I’ve encountered a lot of changes in the pace of my life, I’ve traveled a lot, changed settings, changed schedules, but something that’s stayed with me throughout all that is a focus on balancing work and life.

My first semester at Riddle I hit the ground running, I was taking 16 credit hours, was really involved in AFROTC, and was trying to find myself and make friends on campus too. I completely immersed myself in classes, homework, and exercise, but on the downfall of not getting enough sleep, and not taking time for myself. About half way through my semester, I was walking back from my morning classes and realized that I was constantly rushing everywhere, and I never took time to stop and enjoy life, the weather, or even to take a moment to breathe. This is when I realized that as I was going through the motions of my day, I wasn’t really getting everything I could out of all the amazing experiences I was having. Being present 100% in everything I was doing is really the way I learned to make the most out of my experiences. Whether that meant putting my phone away in class or giving speakers in presentations my full attention, focusing on how my body feels when I’m working out, or building meaningful relationships with the people that I work, study, and live around such as classmates, professors, or even faculty members at the university.

Beach run with my AFROTC family!

My most recent focus this semester has been on proper sleep and self care. I started taking time at the end of every day to reflect on how to make the following day better, to breathe, and to do something for myself: such as reading something that’s not specifically for one of my classes, stretching, drinking tea, doing a face mask, or even cutting up some fruit to snack on while I do homework. Balance has given me an appreciation of the effort it takes to do well in my studies, but also the importance of happiness, and that how taking a few minutes every day to relax are crucial aspects to living my best, calm yet driven, lifestyle.

Stay motivated my friends. Will report back soon!

Fall Semester & AFROTC

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and the Fall 2018 semester is about to begin!

The past couple days have been filled with late nights and early mornings, but instead of studying or AFROTC, the latest concentration has been on move-ins of residents as a Resident Advisor and new student orientation from the perspective of an O-Teamer. An O-Teamer is an Orientation Team Ambassador (ie team member) and Orientation Team is essentially a group of enthusiastic, positive, motivated individuals who come together to welcome students to campus. To sum up the past week, orientation has certainly been very busy, but also a lot of fun. From Paint-U, Glowcade, to the beach bash, the magic show, the movie viewings, the magicians, and the hypnotists, the past couple weeks have been eventful in preparation for student arrival.

A fellow O-Teamer and I before Paint-U!

In other news, AFROTC is starting up again and I’m feeling slightly reminiscent into my AS100 year as I look forward to my AS200 year and meeting all the new AS100s. One year ago I was new to Embry-Riddle, AFROTC, engineering, and Florida. Just looking at how far I’ve come in one year absolutely amazes me and gets me so excited to see all the potential of younger generations as I’m actively contributing to the culture and atmosphere at Embry-Riddle. When I first started college I didn’t know anyone, and I was very nervous. This year I have such a strong support system of people I’ve met only less than one year ago, but feel like I’ve known my entire life. Riddle changed from a foreign place to a home, and I didn’t even realize that was possible when I first arrived. As the Air Force’s birthday approaches, and AFROTC prepares its annual celebration I’m looking back at photos from last year and how I greatly appreciated the irreplaceable connection with the people who surround me. We really were and are such a close community. I am so proud to be a part of our detachment.

The Air Force’s birthday in 2017!

I will be picking up my ABUs again pretty soon and as the semester kicks off I’m ready to be fully back in the swing of things. After spending the past month training and preparing for the school year to begin I’ve come to appreciate that no matter how much time you spend with any given group of people there is always something new you can learn from them every day. That beautiful phenomenon occurred to me as I bask in the nostalgic glory of how I’ve learned, grew, and bonded with the people that have been working besides me this past month.

Orientation Team group photo!

Will report back soon!

New City & New Semester Prep

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida.

I have officially moved back to Embry-Riddle’s campus and am currently taking part in Resident Advisor training. This includes a lot of informative sessions, crisis response training, and scenario practice, plus prepping creative hall decorations in preparation for my new residents to move in. I will be a Resident Advisor this coming fall in the Honors Living and Learning Community in New Residence Hall and am very much looking forward to meeting all my new residents.

Aside from RA training, I am helping prepare for student arrivals at the end of this month with Orientation Team and will be participating in Orientation Training in the weeks to come before classes start as well.

On another note, I am all moved in and am excited to get back on my school routine. I just finished setting up my dorm!

Bed!

Tapestry!

Nice views from my window!

This will be my second year in AFROTC and I can’t wait for all my friends to move back. One of my friends who is also in AFROTC, happened to be living in the same town in Kansas that I was temporarily at this summer while learning Arabic. She comes back to Daytona Beach in a few days and I can’t wait because I’ll have a workout buddy again.

Photo from after an event during my first semester in AFROTC with my friend from Kansas (middle)!

(Shout out to my amazing mentor and workout buddy from last year who graduated in the spring.)

My mentor from freshman year!

To update on the Arabic aspect of my life:

I genuinely miss speaking Arabic so much and constantly being around people who I could communicate with in the language. I find myself frequently slipping Arabic words or phrases into my conversations and unfortunately it only seems to confuse the English speaking people I’m talking with (oops). I am hopefully going to be able to continue my Arabic studies in classes here at Riddle this fall, but if all else fails I will be sure to join some Arabic language centered or Islamic culture related clubs. I am very eager to meet more Arabic speakers on campus to practice my language skills with. On another note, I have been actively communicating via texts with my old Arabic classmates and our professor via our group chat. Texting in Arabic is more fun than it sounds, plus it helps me work on my spelling! I wish I had more face-to-face time with Arabic speakers here in Florida, but hopefully I’ll meet some new Arabic speaking friends soon. Side note: I just ordered a new Arabic keyboard cover for my laptop which I’m so excited about!

Will report back soon!