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.

Spring Semester & School Supplies

Happy 2021 everyone! I am currently blogging from my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia where I will soon depart to head back to Daytona Beach, Florida within the next couple days to prep for Spring semester!

My favorite game of the holiday season de-stressing before returning to the ebb and flow of everyday life at school was hands down, Blokus! I like Blokus because it requires enough thinking to be considered tactical, but is also full of colors and shapes and fun, so it’s a great stress relieving, mind stimulating game!

Results of a family Blokus game!

A new semester always brings new responsibilities and different obligations, but some things stay the same that I like to call the bare necessities for back-to-school survival. Whether your classes are purely online, hybrid, or fully in person I suggest having these top three item power tools along with you. BONUS: if you procrastinate, as I sometimes find myself doing when prepping for a new semester, these items are all available at the ERAU bookstore on campus too.

Item 1: A planner/calendar! I use my Outlook Ernie email multiple times every day and being able to sync my Outlook calendar with my personal Apple calendar is essential! Now, if you prefer pen and paper I recommend taking some time at the beginning of the semester to write down all your deadlines and due dates. Pro tip: use one color/class so deadlines never get too confusing!

Item 2 (which compliments item 1 very well): Colored pens/highlighters! As a college student, whether your major is Aerospace Engineering or Aviation Business, you will probably find yourself (at some point sooner rather than later) taking notes in a classroom or virtual lesson setting. Organized notes are the key to academic success! Especially when looking back over your older lessons during finals prep at the end of the semester. You may even need your class info for future semesters and having an easily navigable notebook (or iPad virtual note folder) is the way to go.

Item 3: Paper! Engineering paper, lined paper, index cards, and my favorite and preferred paper – the blank white printer paper variety, will be your go-to all semester, so make sure you stock up! I use printer paper for homework assignments, making study guides, preparing formula sheets for quizzes/tests, and for scratch paper when trying to further understand/apply concepts. Get enough paper to last you…trust me on this one, you’ll use more than you think!

A visual of how we all plan to attack 2021, via my sister’s puppy playing with a holiday candy cane colored toy.

I hope you stock up on all your calendar, pen, and paper needs for school this semester, the ERAU bookstore is fully stocked and is a life saver for last minute needs. Sending productive and positive vibes! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon folks!

Home & Holidays

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia. I’m home for the holidays and enjoying the rest and relaxation that comes along with it. I’ve spent the past couple days enjoying spending time with family, eating good food, watching the newest season of the Mandalorian on Disney +, going to Hot Yoga, and sleeping!

One of my favorite parts about being home for the holidays is spending time with family, including this Christmas pup!

I finished out the semester strong and I’m mentally preparing to take on spring classes and looking forward to summer plans! I’m currently applying to a few backup study abroad programs focused on language studies for my Arabic maintenance and improvement. Since this summer will be the last before I graduate and commission from Air Force ROTC into Active Duty Air Force, this will be my last chance to study abroad.

COVID-19 rules and regulations are paramount when considering any study abroad options and opportunities, but it can never hurt to keep your options open and apply to what interests you! I like options, so having a main plan and a few backup plans is my typical style. Since global and local conditions are ever-changing it’s hard to predict if I will actually be able to travel this summer, but if I am I will be!

I recently spent some time fishing with my dad for rockfish and it was so much fun! We left at about 3:00 am, drove 2 hours north to the dock, and stayed out on a charter boat until about 3pm with fresh fish! A very fun experience.

Fishing with my dad!

In preparation for Spring semester, I’m resting up and enjoying the break. Time to decompress is extremely important and while I am still doing some behind the scenes work for ROTC and Student Court on the break, I am definitely taking time to catch up on rest too. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Rest & Recharging

Happy December everyone! I am currently blogging from Norfolk, VA where I will be spending most of my winter break-post finals, before the spring semester starts. Since spring break is currently canceled for the Spring 2021 semester, its an ideal time to rest and recharge for the next month before classes start up again because once they start, they go until May!

Rest looks different for everyone, but for me it involves a lot of downtime, leisurely working out, yoga, sleeping, petting and playing with pups, listening to quality music, and eating good food. My ideal day includes waking up with coffee, yoga, and a workout, and going from there with some movies in the afternoon like The Grinch, or a Harry Potter movie marathon.

Socially distanced fun I’m planning on partaking in over the break:

An outdoor market hosted by a local coffee shop that has craft vendors, live music, and vegan food trucks.

A sun catcher making class!

Hot yoga classes via Groupon deals at a local yoga studio.

Drive through Holiday lights! My area offers them at the local Botanical Gardens and on the Boardwalk at the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach.

I’ve already checked looking at the lights with the family off my list so far!
View from across the water driving up to see the lights!

Visiting an outdoor ice skating rink!

Going on plenty of bundled up walks around the neighborhood and at the beach.

Doing most of my holiday shopping online!

Naps!

Making Christmas cookies!

Watching holiday themed bake-off shows on Netflix

Lighting winter edition cozy scented candles around the house

I hope you get the time to relax over the break too, whether that’s reading, playing board games, hiking, spending time with people you love, or doing nothing or something completely different. I know I will certainly be enjoying no homework and less stress from the lack of quizzes, tests, and projects. Will report back soon folks, rest up and keep on keeping on!

End of Semester & Future Prep

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from my Norfolk, VA, post online finals and although final grade reports haven’t been submitted yet, the semester should be completely at a close within a few days!

Let’s talk about how to balance relaxing over break and staying productive by prepping for the future! If you haven’t signed up for Spring classes make sure to do so as soon as possible to ensure you get slots in all the classes you need. If you are unable to get a slot in a full class, or are unsure what classes to sign up for, reach out to your academic advisor for help!

Unwinding over the break with my sister’s festive puppy in a winter sweater!

You can find your academic advisor’s contact information by going to the Ernie homepage, logging in with your ERAU credentials and Two Factor Duo Identification via the mobile app, clicking on Campus Solutions Student Homepage (CSSH), then on the Academic Advising tab on the far left once you get to Campus Solutions. The first page that loads should be the Advisors tab, where it lists the name, email, and phone number for your Academic Advisor that can help you with schedule planning and getting into the classes and class sections that you need.

While breaks are a great time to relax and unwind, they’re also a great opportunity to think ahead, prep for the future, and apply for scholarships and summer programs such as internships, study abroad opportunities, co-ops, or summer jobs! Start thinking ahead and prepping for the future as soon as possible to stay one step ahead for your future plans.

My sister’s festive pup enjoying a Puppuccino from Starbucks before a trip to the dog park!

I recently heard back that I received a Gilman Scholarship to help fund a study abroad opportunity this summer to continue studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan. While everything is still currently up in the air due to COVID-19 having global impacts, I am using the Winter break to create some plans and backup plans for the summer. I am applying to study abroad opportunities from Project GO for the domestic and abroad language learning programs, and through language learning opportunities with CIEE, the Council On International Educational Exchange. I have found that while I am working towards a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, my minor of Arabic Studies is my true passion, one which I look forward to fostering throughout my summer studies and in my future career post AFROTC!

Will report back soon folks! Enjoy break, stay grinding, and keep on keeping on!

Online Classes & Group Projects

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from my hometown of Norfolk, VA where I just finished up the Fall 2020 semester online! Today I’m going to be giving some tips of how to navigate online classes and group projects.

My first tip, and probably the theme of all my tips is that communication is key! This comes into play especially if/when you have questions or don’t understand a concept in class and need clarification. Reach out to your Teacher’s Assistant (TA)! TA’s are typically the ones grading homework and holding virtual Office Hours, in addition to Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions per the recommendation of your professor. A TA is usually a Masters, or Graduate student who is taking classes or doing research at ERAU, so I find they are more relatable to talk to (closer in age) and help explain concepts in more understandable ways because they were probably taking the same classes only a few years ago. If your class doesn’t have a TA, you can always reach out to a TA for a different section of the same class and since the material is the same, they should be able to help you too.

Screenshot of the automatic messaging system attached to Canvas that makes communicating with professors and TAs super easy!

Reach out to your professors! Email and Canvas message will be your best friends. The messaging system on Canvas is extremely easy to use. First go to Inbox from the Canvas homepage, then Compose, and you are able to select your course and message your professors instantly!

One of my professors availability this past semester was 24 hours a day. While that seems a little extreme, the point is your professors are there for you if you need help and they want to support you. My professor gave us his email and phone number and told us we could email, text, call, FaceTime, or Canvas message if we needed anything. If your professor has more structured office hours, you can always reach out to your TA, another class section’s TA, a different professor for the same class, or a different professor in the same department for help outside of your own professor’s availability.

Make a study group! Navigating group projects can be difficult sometimes, but if you already built a relationship with the people in your class, it makes reaching out and collaborating much easier! Some of my favorite Apps to use when working on Lab Reports or Group projects are GroupMe, which makes group messaging super easy and efficient, GoogleDocs which is the perfect way to divide and conquer a lab report because multiple people can make edits at the same time, and of course Zoom, MicrosoftTeams, and FaceTime for video calls and group meetings.

Hold your friends accountable! When working in groups on Lab Reports, group projects, and other collaborative assignments, set deadline reminders in your phone’s calendar and remind your peers when the due dates are approaching! Be a good group partner by being active in your group, completing your sections in a timely manner, and collaborating and communicating when needed to ensure everyone is on the same page! Some professors have Peer Evaluation sheets that you are required to hand in as an assignment to accompany group projects or presentations. Be honest on your Peer Evals! If a member in the group isn’t pulling their weight, let the professor know. Don’t let your learning or your grade suffer because your team member didn’t complete their portion of the assignment or didn’t perform as well as you needed them to.

My favorite Canvas homepage screen to see at the end of the semester!

Will report back soon folks! Good luck on finals and keep on keeping on!

Finals & Fall/Winter Break

Happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and Thanksgiving is so close I can almost taste it (the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie of course).

The fall semester has rapidly been coming to a close and with about a week left until Winter Break starts its hard to see past all the assignments and even fathom a break that is, despite what my stressors persuade me, going to be upon us very shortly. I don’t typically doubt myself, but I do surprise myself because sometimes my schedule is so busy it’s hard to picture being able to accomplish so many tasks in one day, much less a week! 

A plot from my Aerospace Structures Homework that I’m currently working on via Femap/Nastran

In the spirit of being thankful (Thanksgiving vibes) I am grateful that I have the amazing opportunities to continually challenge myself in academics, professional relations, physical fitness, and leadership skills. Cue the teleprompter voice, this is all made possible in part by… time management skills I didn’t realize I had, setting daily reminders via Siri on my phone and laptop throughout the day, many To-Do lists, calendar notifications, alarms, and most importantly – my tried and true Go-To… coffee! Kidding, I am very thankful to have a support system of friends and family and I am so excited to go back to Virginia in about a week to see them!

Final exams are just around the corner, right after Thanksgiving, and the semester is truly so close to coming to an end. My motivations are good food, sleep, and quality time watching Christmas movies at home.

Over the winter break, post finals, I plan to work on Scholarship and Study Abroad opportunity applications, practice my Arabic by exploring further into the world of Arabic music, TV, and movies, and of course, rest!

Upon reflecting on the past few months, the hardest part of this Fall Semester, that I foresee will be a challenge in the Spring as well, is not having breaks or time to rest and recover between classes and assignments. Having long weekends and breaks canceled means that professors continuously assign homework, tests, quizzes, and projects until finals. This is especially disheartening considering my current Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings are filled with due dates, in addition to every weekday. I go directly from one subject and assignment to the other and it’s sometimes hard to see the light that the end of the semester brings when you’re in the thick of it.

College extensively exceeds the typical 40 hours a week “full time” work schedule, which is something I couldn’t have prepared for beforehand and is not something I am 100% sure I am prepared for now, despite taking part in it weekly. On the bright side, time never stops, and we get through it. My advice is to keep a positive attitude and keep pushing, one week, day, or task at a time. Progress is progress. Finals are quickly approaching and so is the rest and relaxation that follows! Will report back soon folks. Keep on keeping on!

Sleep & Busy Schedules

Happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Thanksgiving is about two and a half weeks away and I feel like I’m on the last uphill sprint before finals. I am so excited to go back to Virginia and eat good food and catch up on sleep! 

Florida has been getting colder lately, and when I recently took my Fitness Assessment for AFROTC it was probably one of the chilliest mornings yet. In-person PTs have been canceled for ROTC on ERAU’s DB campus for the rest of the semester but we still do “virtual workouts”. Essentially we are given workouts to complete individually to maintain our fitness on personal accountability, rather than gather in person with socially distant procedures for group PT sessions.

This past week has been extremely busy! I have had lots of tests, quizzes, and presentations, and I am very tired. My plans for Thanksgiving and Winter break include lots of sleep!

 My daily plan for Friday is to wake up at approximately 0500, do my morning yoga routine, go as a spotter (essentially a repetition counter or time keeper) for the AFROTC Fitness Assessment, return to my room, take an Aerospace Engineering Materials Exam, take an Experimental Aerodynamics quiz, go workout and get smoothies for lunch (Friday is $5.00 smoothie day at Smoothie King in Daytona Beach and after a midday run on a Friday, a smoothie is the best way to start the weekend off on the right foot!), finish the day by working on Aerospace Structures I homework, and my AFROTC Flight is holding a socially distanced Flight Goal of an Improv Night in the evening that I plan on attending. Very busy!

My Student Court Associate Justice headshot in my SGA Court polo!
My (personal favorite) Student Court Associate Justice headshot in my court robe that makes me feel like I’m a Wizard in Harry Potter!

I have a fully packed schedule every day and there is never a moment where I don’t have something that I could be doing. For example, there seems to be an exponential amount of need for me to be working on a homework assignment for various classes, studying or preparing for an upcoming test/quiz, trying to get a head start (or most of the time realistically trying to keep up) on deadlines for my Experimental Aerodynamics labs, sending or replying to emails, working on scholarship applications, and sleeping! 

In my free time you will usually find me working out, doing yoga, studying, or sleeping… so maybe it isn’t really free time? I am looking forward to actual free time over winter break, I can’t remember the last time I actively planned on doing nothing, and successfully followed through with it. Only a few more weeks left! Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks!

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!