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.

Updates & Free Time Tips

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s a rainy and cold weekend and I have been so busy lately that the weeks are really flowing together. 

Typically mid March, students look forward to a well needed break for a week with Spring Break, but this semester due to the global pandemic, we are experiencing a “new normal”. We had our first “study” day that was enacted to replace Spring Break, but with assignments still due and office hours still being held, it felt more like a normal work day than a break. Spring break typically is a week where students are able to not think about school for a few days before the final push to finals season, so this semester is especially challenging without the scheduled period to decompress.

In recent news my study abroad program through Project GO in Meknes, Morocco has been officially canceled due to travel restrictions and is moving to either an in-person program in Tucson, Arizona at the University of Arizona or an online program which is essentially a Zoom class like I did last summer. The benefit of a Zoom class is that since you’re doing it from home you can be mask-less and aside from video calling, class seems semi normal!

Some things that I’ve found keeping me sane and hopeful lately are leaning into the small moments where I get free time and filling them with good music, online yoga videos like YogaWithAdriene on Youtube, watching a movie on Disney+ (or Netflix or Hulu), texting my sister and getting updates on my puppy niece, or ordering Chinese food or pizza on a Friday night in.

I have definitely been missing my puppy niece lately!

When I’m extremely busy with school I’ve found that that I typically sleep less and eat less healthy food. This is especially prevalent when I am busy back-to-back, with homework, projects, and tests on the weekends instead of opportunities for extra sleep or relaxation. Thankfully there is only about a month and I half of school left, and I am looking forward to a much needed break!

Some key take-aways I’ve learned over the years that are especially important when I’m busy are having good food and maintaining a good evening/morning routine to keep me energized (as well as good snacks). Some of my favorite snacks to keep on hand are fruit, nuts, granola, fig bars, granola bars, pita chips, honey, and of course either peanut butter or almond butter. I also always have oatmeal and coffee! Typically this is my go-to for breakfast but I have been known to eat some after dinner as dessert or for a snack!

A solo selfie (from alone in my room) to remind you that there are still smiles under the mask!

This semester and this time in the world are especially challenging for everyone right now, so with that I remind you that you are not alone! If you ever need anything the Center for Faith and Spirituality, the Counseling Center, and Health Services are available to support you! 

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

Balancing the Busy & Preventing Burnout

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, there’s approximately two full months of the Spring semester left, it’s Midterm season, its PT test season, and for me its a season highly saturated with Matlab coding. My go-tos for being very busy during this time are adding clay face masks to my nighttime routine (to help my skin combat wearing cloth face masks all day), drinking lots of coffee (and lots of water to balance the lots of coffee) and in the true nature of a college student – adding peanut butter and hot sauce to basically all my food for fast flavor for my microwave rice or noodles.

I am currently in the thick of it, in terms of being extremely busy. Something I struggle with balancing during the busiest times always seems to be powering down at the end of the day. Sometimes I have weeks of “on” mode, constantly go, go, go, next assignment next due date next quiz/test to study for, next time commitment, and it’s hard to actually slow down. While tapping into the productive flow state can be helpful for a few days or a few weeks, it is certainly not sustainable in the long term. That being said, I am absolutely guilty of planning my weeks ahead of time, scheduling my days with lists, and powering through by showing up for each item on my list. The thing most of us forget to prioritize in all that though, is time for ourselves!

Outside of yoga, coffee and conversation in car rides is one of may favorite ways to relax.

Usually when schedules get busier the first items that gets “kicked off” my To-Do list are the items that have to do with self care and taking time to wind down. This leads to burnout! 

I am a strong believer that we make time for the things that are important to us, but also that sometimes there isn’t enough time in a day to complete all the tasks we elect to do.

Tips and tricks I’ve found that help me center myself and prevent burnout: 

Balance is key! I have found that showing up for myself has never had negative effects. Taking a moment to calm down, meditate for a few minutes, go for a run or a workout, or nap when I need it is essential. You know your body/mind best so if you need to schedule time to check in to assess what you need to help you feel and perform your best, do so!

One of my other favorite ways to relax is looking at pictures from my sister of my puppy niece, Daisy! Never fails to brighten my day.

Let’s circle back here, while it is absolutely essential to take care of yourself, a balance is absolutely essential too. For example, I don’t like doing my homework, and my classes are stressful, but in order to eliminate my stressors I could either do my homework and get through them, or not do my homework and avoid them. Doing my homework leads me to be more stressed on my own time, but less stressed during tests/exams.

Not doing my homework and taking a break is sometimes needed, but it’s important to differentiate between taking breaks and neglecting your responsibilities. When you need a break, take a break, but if you find yourself not finding motivation to do ANY homework, circle back to why you signed up for the classes in the first place and think about your end goal.

Whether that goal is graduating, passing a class, earning any type of degree, commissioning into the military, all of us have motivation of what made us choose to be in college and why we stay. Find your reason and reflect on how it will feel to get your degree or reach your end goal. When things get tough, circle back to what keeps you going!

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

Study Abroad Scholarships & Summer Plans

Happy February everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, posted up in a local coffee shop on a Saturday morning grinding away on homework. I have some exciting news! I recently got accepted to participate in an amazing opportunity this summer with Project GO! I’ve talked about Project GO in the past because I started my language learning journey in Summer 2018 with Arabic!

Project GO is a program offered through the Department of Defense to all military branches of ROTC students where they are offered scholarships to learn critical languages either domestically or abroad over the summer.

Since I am in Air Force ROTC, I spent my first summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years with Project GO learning Arabic domestically in Lawrence, Kansas at the University of Kansas. I continued my studies throughout the year at ERAU Daytona Beach and decided to add an Arabic Studies minor to my academic curriculum. The following summer in 2019 I spent at the University of Arizona studying Arabic domestically as well. Last summer in 2020 I was selected to study Arabic abroad in Morocco with Project GO, but unfortunately due to the global pandemic, travel lockdowns were set in place and Morocco’s borders shut, so I continued studying throughout the summer on Arizona time with online Arabic courses. (Shoutout to Zoom, I am VERY familiar.) 

A perk of Pre-Pandemic studying with Project GO in Arizona was the amazing hikes!

Also, in 2020 I was selected to receive a Boren Award to study Arabic abroad in Amman, Jordan, but unfortunately (again due to the pandemic) I was unable to do so, and the Boren program allowed me to postpone using my award in Summer 2021. Boren is a National Security Education Program initiative that offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students to study critical languages abroad.

The difference between Project GO and Boren is that the Boren Awards program is open to all students (not only ROTC) and is a bit more flexible on choosing your specific language, country, foreign host institution, and courses. The Boren Awards program is more heavily reliant on self-initiative and providing your own plan for language learning, as well as proposing the funds needed for the expenses of your endeavor and applying for the Boren Award to do so.

View of the sunset from the University of Arizona’s campus while I was studying Arabic there.

With Project GO, you have the option of language and learning level, along with different host universities (domestically) that host both domestic and abroad programs where you are able to choose up to three programs both domestically and abroad to apply for (a total of 6). If you are selected to receive a scholarship, the foreign host institution is already paired with a domestic institution and essentially requires less planning from a student/participant’s perspective.

That being said, I have officially accepted a study abroad opportunity for Summer 2021 with Project GO where I will be continue my advanced Arabic studies in Meknes, Morocco and I am extremely excited. Will report back soon folks, keep on keeping on!

Daily Life & Extraneous Happenings

Happy February everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and now that I’m back in the groove I would like to share with you a day in the life of an Aerospace Engineering student in Air Force ROTC who works as a Resident Advisor (RA), along with multiple other campus involvements! 

To begin, in AFROTC this semester we have one In-Person physical training (PT) a week, and one “virtual” at home workout PT, in addition to one In-Person Leadership Laboratory (LLAB). If I have either PT or LLAB, I typically wake up around 0500 via an alarm on my phone, sometimes multiple alarms especially if I was up late doing homework. I usually start my day extremely thirsty so when I first wake up I make water, coffee, tea, and a vitamin C drink from a powder I have (I know this might sound like a lot, but I love beverages). Then I do 10-15 minutes of yoga, eat some oatmeal and take my vitamins, and head to ROTC around 0620. After ROTC I typically return to my room between 0800 and 0900 and shower and make second breakfast, which is sometimes more oatmeal, coffee, and fruit if a have it (sometimes oatmeal is subbed with a muffin from the Cadet Lounge).

Then I prep for my day! On my busiest days I have in-person Airplane Stability and Control, Preparation for Active Duty Air Force class, online Aerospace Structures II, in-person SGA Student Court office hours, Space Mechanics, and my bi-weekly 1:1 with my RA supervisor (the Residence Life Coordinator of the residence hall I live in). This week my other obligations include my Returning RA Interview session, a 1:1 with my APAS (Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies) to go over my academic course plan up to graduation, Student Court Hearing Sessions, RA staff meetings, RA duty, workouts, office hours with my professors to ask questions about homework assignments, and my first Community Hangout of the semester – I’m teaming up with my RA hall partner to do a virtual Paint night!

In my free time when I’m not working out I’m probably playing virtual chess with my friends, strategizing Blokus games, or sleeping!

My first 2-Person Blokus game!

My usual schedule typically includes homework, quiz prep, and studying for upcoming tests. Also, I recently joined ERAU’s Surf Club which I’m very excited about. I went surfing for the first time since I’ve been back in Florida over the weekend at Ponce Inlet and it was so much fun! Going to the beach recently was the first time I’ve worn a wetsuit because the water was cold and I had a blast.

The beach when I went surfing with Surf Club!

As I get back to doing homework, I look forward to blogging again soon, keep on keeping on folks, stay safe!

Spring & Back in the Swing of Things

Happy January everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida. First week of Spring 2021 semester down, and it’s definitely been an adjustment getting back into the swing of things. At this point, this is the start of my 8th semester, not including summer classes, and you would think it gets easier as time goes on, but it still takes me a little time to get back in the flow of things. I find that I enjoy my breaks so much that returning sometimes is a little difficult, as I’m sure a lot students find coming back from the leisure and comfort of a relaxing break.

Hiking in VA while I was home in December!

That being said, in order to thoroughly enjoy resting I work hard to get to the end of each semester, so it’s well earned and thoroughly enjoyed, although short lived. The next 3.5 months of Spring semester will surely fly by quickly, full of busy schedules, challenges, and (unfortunately) no Spring Break. As the weather gets warmer hopefully I’ll get some free time to get outside and relax as I got to do while home in Virginia!

My favorite things about Spring semester in Florida are outdoor workouts, $5.00 smoothie day (typically post-run) at Smoothie King on Fridays, and the beach. I also enjoy being back at school because I listen to a lot of new music. I like to listen to music on Spotify (where it’s only $5.00 a month for Hulu + Spotify for students!!) while I do homework, study, and answer emails/GroupMe messages. I also enjoy checking out suggested new songs while on walks and during workouts, which helps me look forward to the things I would typically enjoy a little more, which is always extra exciting!

Spending downtime outside over break!

I thoroughly enjoy doing YogaWithAdriene videos on Youtube in the mornings too. I had a morning Yoga routine all Fall semester and getting back into a new school routine for Spring is always nice. I recently tried out the GetBendy program with ElleFitActive that is basically a yoga incorporated stretch routine which is perfect for the mornings, nights, and before or after workouts. Super important tips for getting through the Spring semester, especially when the weather starts to warm up, are staying hydrated, stretching in between workouts, and getting enough sleep!

Sometimes being back at school (especially with online classes) can be monotonous and adding little bits of variation and fun/happy moments to break up your days are extremely beneficial! If you can fit in a quick walk around campus in between classes, a short yoga or workout video on YouTube, or even a healthy snack or an afternoon tea/coffee pick-me-up, it might work wonders for an afternoon slump from staring at a computer all day. I hope you find creative and personalized ways to help you get through a semi-to-fully virtual semester! I will be reporting back shortly with some tips and tricks that I’ll be trying out over the next few weeks to combat the health slumps that usually accompany the stress each semester brings. Keep on keeping on folks, stay healthy, will get back to y’all soon!

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!