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.

Friends & February

Happy February folks! Recently I’ve had the amazing opportunity to take a weekend to travel to Savannah, Georgia, in between classes and training and working, and it was a well needed break.

February is a very busy month at Embry Riddle, most organizations are doing a lot of volunteer work, there are a lot of car races happening at the Daytona International Speedway, a lot of people are touring the campus, and tons of people are visiting Daytona Beach as the weather warms up, so things can get a little hectic. The atmosphere is a definitely busy, and everyone seems exhausted and highly caffeinated. So, naturally I figured it would be a great time to take some me time and get away to clear my head and reset before diving back into reality.

Thankfully, before the chaos of all this began I had a great opportunity to travel north! I took a Greyhound bus Friday night up to Savannah, Georgia and arrived early Saturday morning, before returning on Sunday. I got the chance to stay overnight with my best friend, tour the downtown historic district a little, go by the river, do some yoga, and stop by my newly acquired favorite shops and restaurants from my visit to the city with my family over Thanksgiving break.

First on my list of things to experience was of course The Coffee Fox coffee shop, where I escaped the cold 50 degree weather and wind to indulge in some coffee and cozy up in a corner doing my Differential Equations homework. To my dismay, although it’s fun to travel, I can never seem to escape the homework.

Next I ducked out of the cold and grabbed breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Company where I ordered a dish called the Iron Goat, consisting of a homemade biscuit with sautéed spinach and goat cheese, along with a side of fried green tomatoes, which were absolutely delicious. One of my favorite parts about going to new places and different cities is the food. I don’t have the opportunity to get good homemade cooked food a lot at school, because I’m usually very busy, which made every bite of fresh breakfast all the more satisfying. 

Breakfast from one of the most amazing biscuit places in Savannah, Georgia!

This semester has been extremely stressful and sometimes it’s hard to de-stress living at school, where I study, work, go to class, sleep, workout, and then repeat. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunities that I have earned and, along with that, some of the few people who keep me sane through the chaos and are my friends. Most of my friends at Embry Riddle are in AFROTC, because we naturally spend A LOT of time together, in and out of training, but another one of my good friends is a resident advisor in the same hall that I live in, and one of my best friends I got to meet up with over the weekend while I visited Georgia!

Will report back soon. I have some Aerospace Flight Vehicles homework I need to tend to. Spring break is around the corner. Keep on keeping on!

Lists & Looking Forward

Happy January everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, back into the swing of things and fully thriving, if that includes stress, lack of sleep, and tired muscles, but nonetheless I am still keeping the lovely positive mental attitude. 

A few updates as of lately: I am currently typing this from my desk with a view outside of the 100% forecast of rain and thunderstorms and the construction of the newest residence hall building, it’s a Sunday morning, I’m still in my pajamas, I have a cup of tea, and my laundry is currently in the dryer, its a good life folks. 

This past week, although it only consisted of four days due to no school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was absolutely exhausting. Four day weeks still mean four days of classes, inclusive of homework to compensate for a day off, tests, quizzes, and 3 days of AFROTC Field Training Preparation training days with less time to recover. On Friday we had PT in the morning, I had classes and meetings all day, then I went to the gym to do abs, shoulders, and upper back, it’s Sunday and I’m still sore.

Following that excitement, I woke up at 0200 on Saturday morning to meet with a group of cadets from AFROTC and head over to the Daytona International Speedway to volunteer for the Rolex 24 race. My volunteering shift was filled with lots of standing and the weather was very windy and cold, it ended at 4:30pm and once I got back to my dorm I showered, ate, and went to sleep. 

Naturally, I’d assume you all can infer what that means: Sunday is the day of homework. I’ll rest next weekend… hopefully?! I am a person that very much values self care time, although I frequently have very little time for it between the thousand other things I do. That being said, a great remedy for me to organize my days and perhaps schedule some time for me to do a little yoga or squeeze in a face mask are by listing out everything I need to accomplish that day. In listing things out, not only do I get a sense of accomplishment when I get to cross things off, I have a definitive timeline of my progress on little goals that put me one step closer to being able to take a shower, get ready for bed, and relax (aka sleep)!

Typically I write daily lists either via sticky notes, which are then stuck to the back of my phone for the duration of the day, or if I don’t have sticky notes around I compose these to do lists via digital notes in the Notes app on my phone.

Today on the list, aside from laundry and blogging, is my weekly Resident Advisor report that I do every Sunday, uploading a few other digital forms for my RA position, composing a handwritten memorandum for my AFROTC Training Officers, preparing my clothes and gear for AFROTC training in the morning, and homework for Differential Equations, Aerospace Flight Vehicles, and Dynamics, plus studying!

Here is another picture of my mom and I from a hike over winter break that makes me very happy.

I’ve been pretty busy lately to say the least, but spring break is around the corner, and one of my friends that I haven’t seen in over a year may be visiting me sometime in February! Despite the stress and fatigue of this semester, there are always things to look forward to.

Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on!

Daytona & Decorations

Happy January everyone! Also happy new year! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, back in Florida with the temperatures in the 70s and the golden sunshine. 

The first week of school has concluded and it was busy to say the least. Mind you, the first full week is yet to come, but our initial three day week sure did have me exhausted, and classes aren’t even in full swing yet!

A brief look into my first week’s schedule: 

On Wednesday, the first official day of classes, I started with an AFROTC Fitness Assessment early in the morning, then proceeded to have my Aerospace Flight Vehicles class, Differential Equations, a meeting with my boss for my Resident Advisor position, a hall wing meeting for my 38 residents, and then RA duty for the night where you are required to be “On-Call” in the residence hall starting at 5pm, then sit at the desk and perform building rounds from 7pm until 11pm, and be “On Call” again until the Housing and Residence Life Office opens at 8am the following morning.

My second day consisted of waking up and running, my Modern Middle Eastern World Affairs class, Dynamics, and a boxing class with my favorite girl gang.

Friday started with the first official training day for AFROTC, ergo the first Leadership Laboratory of my Field Training Preparation semester which was challenging, followed by my Air Force class, then Aerospace Flight Vehicles, and another serving of Differential Equations, concluding my day and first week with a group bonding activity with my AFROTC flight in the evening. AFROTC flights change every semester, so team bonding is extremely important outside of training to ensure you all perform cohesively during training!

As an RA, your job includes decorating your hallways in the dorms where your residents reside. This semester I based my theme loosely on comic book fonts, with most of the inspiration originating from the 1966 film Batman: The Movie. 

Some of my hall decorations included: Wham!
Zok
Boff!
Zoom!
Blam
and of course, Pow!

Although it was so nice being on break and really getting a chance to briefly take my mind off of all my responsibilities, it definitely feels good to escape the cold weather, and begin to get back into the swing of things, but I do miss my friends and family from back home.

My mom and I on a hike over the winter break.
Some friends and I that I got the chance to visit over the break!

Next week will be a busy one as well, and between Orientation Team, my RA position, AFROTC, Aerospace Engineering, Arabic, and numerous other tasks and obligations that pull me in a thousand different directions, I’m sure this semester will be challenging, but definitely worth it.

Stay motivated and positive as you settle into the new year. Will report back soon!

Home & Holidays

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Washington DC. I traveled from Daytona Beach to Orlando then to Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach to see family and friends, and now I’m spending some time up north visiting with my sister. It’s starting to get so cold here, I feel like Florida has definitely gotten me accustomed to warmer climates. I’m definitely lucky to have been able to borrow my brother and sister’s warm clothes while I visited because my small carry on included jeans and a flannel that were not cut out for this 30 degree weather. Such a drastic climate change from blazing summers in Kansas and mild and humid temperatures in Florida.  

In other news, I have been enjoying my break so much. I’ve done a ton of yoga at a studio only two blocks away from my house (score!), have been running on the beach (in the cold yikes), doing push-ups and ab workouts, have gone on a couple hikes, and of course took my dog, Kita on walks with my dad, in addition to eating a bunch of good food, visiting local coffee shops, and sleeping.

One of my favorite things I got to do over break was paint a shed my dad built. Surprisingly enough painting the entire thing only took a few hours in the afternoon with my family all grabbing brushes.

Painting a shed! I promise the tiny brush was only used to cover nails.

Kita got painted too!

I also got to spend some time hiking with my sister and mom, which was great! Got to break in my new hiking boots I got for Christmas, broke in some new running shoes, and also some new ABU boots for Field Training Preparation (FTP) next semester. To say the least my feet are extremely sore, but better now than later.

On a hike with my mom and sister!

My aunt also took some amazing family photos for us that are currently being uploaded but will be sure to be included in the upcoming posts.

I fly back to Florida in a few days and can definitely say I will miss the leisurely pace of a balanced life and no homework. RAs always arrive back to school early to decorate, inspect, and set up the dorms again before all the residents return for the upcoming semester. Until then though, I’ll be sleeping and eating well in preparation for FTP, as well as working on scholarship applications and internship applications for the summer.

Happy new year and I hope everyone has been enjoying their holidays. Will report back soon once the semester starts up again!

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!