About Isabella


Engineering Physics

Hometown: St. Augustine, FL
Campus Involvement: Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Project Manager/VP of Women's Baja SAE Team, FAA-related Research Job, College of Arts & Sciences Student Council Chair of Engineering Physics
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: There are two big things that really pushed me to apply/attend to ERAU. One was the tremendous amount of hands-on experience that I could get just by asking to be a part of projects, teams, and research. The other was the numerous program-specific, non-gen-ed classes that started as early as freshman and sophomore year which made me excited to learn and apply concepts as soon as possible.

So Many Adventures…..

A lot outside of school has happened in the past week or so! Here is a little bit of documentation:

The solar eclipse happened! Please enjoy my not-so-great picture of it through a telescope on the 5th floor of COAS. Even though we weren’t in the path of totality, it was an amazing experience. Maybe it was simply because we are at a school where nearly everyone is invested in events like this, but the whole world around me seemed to stop. I was at work in the Office of Undergraduate Research when everyone started to make their way outside and use the eclipse glasses that were being handed out.
As Graduate Assistant for the Office of Undergraduate Research, I helped with Discovery Day! This was a huge (over 800 attendees) research symposium day where students from the entire school could present their findings through poster sessions while winning awards and grants! I also personally received my Research Scholar award that day at the awards ceremony.
We attended ERAU’s Casino Night! This was really fun. Big thanks to Touch-N-Go for organizing the free pizza, blackjack tables, raffles, and more!

PS Department Social

As the current College of Arts & Sciences (COAS) Student Council Engineering Physics Representative, myself and the Astronomy & Astrophysics Representative organized this semester’s Physical Sciences Department Social. We had a huge taco bar, appetizers, cookies, sodas, and more! We also had a Pie-the-Professor event where people could pay $5 to pie volunteering professors with whipped cream! Profits are going towards more PS department events with free food for students and faculty! Enjoy a picture from the event 😀

College Meal Prep

As we go through college, we realize that it may be time to start getting little parts of our life together one by one including health! Routine exercising and some “touch-the-grass” times are great ideas. Another way I do this is through meal prep! This saves me money and forces me to eat more balanced meals with certain nutritional aspects I need (more protein, vitamin B, etc.). I am on campus usually all day (around 8:30am-8:30pm) due to classes, meetings, work, etc. I purchased a backpack on Amazon that was only around $25 that is very sturdy and has a built-in cooler/lunchbox as a front pouch. It looks very fashionable and is very useful. I meal prep around 1 day per week with a bunch of balanced meals that I can easily throw in tiny containers in my lunchbox to eat and/or microwave throughout the day. Some things that I’ve been making lately are curries, bowls, and casseroles. I also try to get some type of fruit that I can carry around easily (sliced pears in a ziploc, a tangerine, dried figs, etc.).

Now, how do you eat a balanced meal on a budget? Well, the meal prep helps a lot. I go to Costco (or Publix when there are good BOGO deals) to stock up on meats (ground beef, ground turkey, chicken thighs, etc.). Then, I put them in my freezer. When you see meat on sale, just get it and stick it in your freezer. Then, I grab some frozen, fresh, and canned veggies, maybe some jar curry sauces too. Quinoa and rice are also cheap things to buy in bulk. Then, one day per week I make all of these things in bulk and put them in my fridge to slowly eat at school from my lunchbox or reheat on a night that I come home late. (You can also make these foods in mega bulk portions and split ingredient costs among friends.)

For example, here is my meal prep this week: (all of these are my own concoctions, but if you need ideas ChatGPT is weirdly good at this too)

  • Chicken Saag
    • I had some chicken thighs in my freezer that I chopped into cubes and cooked with a premade saag curry sauce pack from the store. It turned out great!
  • Protein-rich Rice
    • I had leftover bean rice, daal, and a lentil curry pouch. I combined them in a pan to make a protein-heavy rice that can be eaten on its own or paired with the chicken!
  • Asian-inspired Ground Chicken
    • I’m mixing ground chicken and ground turkey with some five spice and oyster sauce to make an Asian-inspired meat that can be eaten with rice, quinoa, or just in lettuce cups!
  • Broccoli
    • I just blanch some frozen broccoli and mix with a bit of butter and garlic powder; these are neutral ingredients that makes this a good side dish to anything.
  • Grains (Rice, Quinoa)
    • I usually always have these on hand in my fridge to pair with protein and/or veggies.
  • Eggplant Pesto Casserole
    • I had some leftover pesto and spinach artichoke raviolis that I layered in a pan with sliced eggplant and extra parmesan then baked. It came out so good!

Graduation Approaches

Graduation approaches…….time to buy your cap/gown, figure out where you are going to live/work afterwards…..parents want official graduation photos to send family and friends. But what are the iconic spots on campus to take these photos? Well, I highly recommend getting some pictures with any projects you are working on (if you are able to, please abide by ITAR etc.). Here are some of the graduation photos I took recently at the two spots that people usually use around campus for inspiration: in front of the Wright Flyer statue and along the Legacy Walk (enjoy the blooper photo at the end)

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Disclaimer: The advice I’m about to offer is drawn from my own experiences, please take with a grain of salt and do what works for you! Please also keep in mind this is from the viewpoint of an Engineering Physics/Systems Engineering student who is looking for a job in engineering.

Lately I feel like my LinkedIn feed is filled with reports of companies doing layoffs and people begging for work as many graduate without a job offer. How can one increase their chances at a job both before and after graduation?

  • Hands-on Experience
    • Get involved with as many projects and other hands-on experiences as you can! These are where you REALLY learn practical skills, and they look amazing on your resume. Walk around to the labs on campus, find one that looks cool, and contact whoever you can. Or, join a technical club (don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone/major) like Baja SAE, robotics, rocketry, etc.
  • Network constantly
    • NEVER pass up an opportunity to network, even if the person/type of people don’t seem interesting now, it never hurts to know people for mentorships, later reference, etc.
    • Join clubs/societies that help with this (SWE, AIAA, IEEE, etc.)
    • Attend career fairs, talk to recruiters, ask for a business card, and then follow up and add them on LinkedIn!
    • Search on LinkedIn for people in interesting jobs/teams/companies that you like (bonus points if they are alumni), and then message them. “Hey! I saw that you work on __; I am also an ERAU alum and really interested in that type of work. How do you like your team? What type of components do you work on?”, etc.
  • Resume Work
    • Keep your resume up to date. I like having one big ongoing resume that I add to, and then trimming it down for specific applications.
    • Career Services is great, but also have people in industry look at it. Here is where you networking comes in! Find people you know in the field or even former classmates/colleagues that are now in industry that can look at your resume. They will know the most up to date things that their company and other companies are looking for in a practical resume
  • Applications
    • Apply, and keep applying. Sometimes, companies will reject you simply because they didn’t have the budget for that specific application or even because no one saw your resume when they were circulated around the company. Don’t lose hope! Apply again and to a bunch of different job titles; it’s worth it!

Simply Living Life

Hey there! Took some time away from blogging due to finals week, spending Winter break with family, and taking care of some health stuff. That being said, as a new semester begins, always remember to prioritize your mental and physical health! It may not seem efficient now but will help you operate better, faster, and more efficiently in the long run. This can include scheduling times to do things with friends but also scheduling time to relax, read a book, or, my favorite, take some leisurely textbook notes in a little coffee shop.

Speaking of fun things, I have done a few things recently around the area that I wanted to share! There are so many places around Florida that are GREAT for a day trip or even just an evening activity. Here are some places that I have gone the past week or so:

The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is only about 1.5 hours by car from campus! They have some really cool concerts there for relatively cheap prices. My boyfriend and I recently attended a Bowling for Soup concert there with Lit as an opener, and the tickets were only $35 each! The venue is super small as well, so any seat or standing space you get provides a really good view of the stage. I have also seen some classical music concerts there and a concert by Jake Shimabukuro (the ukulele legend, highly recommend). That area also has many good restaurants within a 10-minute radius to turn it into a fun evening.
My friend from LA visited for a few days, so of course I had to take her to Kennedy Space Center! It is only about an hour drive from campus, and you can get VERY discounted tickets through the ICI Center on campus. Plus, if you go during a weekday, there are little to no wait times for any rides and interactive experiences. This is a space nerd’s Disneyland; at least, I know it is for me. And of course you have to dress in all your finest NASA merch…..and subsequently get mistaken for an employee a few times hahaha
Before this, I had never tried an escape room, but now I think it is one of my favorite things to do. It is like a big interactive puzzle! I forgot exactly where this one was but went recently for a friend’s birthday. Great plan for a birthday or special occasion. They can get pricy, but when split among a few friends it usually is not too bad.
St. Augustine is my home, so I am a bit biased. However, it is only about an hour away from campus and FULL of fun things to do. I should really write another post on available St. Augustine activities. I have spent my whole life there and am still discovering new things to do. My friends and I walked around the Nights of Lights before they were shut off. During Winter, the entire downtown area is lit up with decorations and light for the holidays; it is breathtaking (and internationally known)! This is a picture of us at a little place downtown. Half of it is a duck-themed soap/spa sort of store. The other half is a bar! They specialized in old-fashioned sodas and drinks with ducks in them that you can take home! The entire place is duck-themed and so adorable. Great for photo ops.

Backpack Essentials

I’ve had many backpacks throughout the years of college and feel like it’s a really overlooked, essential part of your day-to-day life that can dictate your efficiency, productivity, and more. Here are a few things that I find are really nice to have in my backpack at all times.

  • First Aid / Personal Hygiene
    • Having a little pouch with personal items inside my backpack has been super helpful. You will need them WAY more than you think. This can include bandaids, neosporin, pain reducers, female hygiene products (if needed), nail clippers, nail file, tweezers, etc. I have used all of these things more than once per semester.
  • Calculators
    • If you have both, keep both a standard calculator and a nice graphing calculator on you. Professors could announce calculator standards for pop quizzes, tests, etc. last minute in class, and you will be very thankful that you have both options with you.
  • Snacks!
    • Even if you wind up putting them away at home at the end of the day, it’s nice to have them around if hunger strikes and you are really busy and/or don’t have the time/money to spend. There are some cheaper Amazon options for backpacks with built-in lunchboxes that can allow you to put ice packs and everything in there which is especially great for people with any dietary restrictions.
  • Water
    • I’ve become a big advocate for carrying water with you. I have been caught without water and no time to get any enough times that I was dehydrated and now carry a big jug around with me; there are some cheaper designs on Amazon with cute patterns.
  • Stationery Cases
    • I’ve developed a system for this. I have various stationery cases for each thing: colored fine-tip Sharpies, colored fine-tip expo markers, colored chisel-tip expo markers, colored pencils, colored fine-tip markers, colored highlighters, and standard (pens, pencils, erasers). I switch them out at home based on what I think will be the most valuable during that day, but the Expo markers are GREAT to have around. You never know if you will be stuck in a study room with nonfunctional markers or just cramming for a quiz (studies show that studying with multiple colors helps your brain memorize things better).
  • Headphones
  • Chargers

Project/Team Management

Over the years, I have really enjoyed various teams, groups, and projects including robots, rockets, subteams, PR, cars, student councils, clubs, class projects, and more!
I wanted to take some time to list out a handful of things and mindsets that are super useful in the management process.

  • Prioritize one-person accountability
    • Each task should be able to be traced back to one specific person for accountability when it is done late, when someone has questions, when something goes wrong because of it, etc.
  • Learn to delegate
    • It is better to share the work instead of doing it all yourself. Although you may enjoy controlling the outcome, understandably, delegation also gives others the chance to learn your duties in the eventual circumstance that you retire/step down. It also helps the members of your team feel like they more directly contributed to the end goal.
  • Goals & timelines are SO important
    • These are some of the most important things whether it comes in the form of a Gantt chart, Excel sheet, or something else. An end goal must be defined with important milestones in order for a project to progress in a timely manner. Without these, the project risks veering away from the main goal and/or taking far too long. This will also help you give your teammates an answer to why you must complete a certain task on time and all the trickle-down consequences of a delay.
    • Factor in delays/buffers: Sometimes things can go wrong. Sometimes these things can be out of your control (supplier backups, accountable people getting sick, etc.). You need to factor in some buffer time when scheduling things to be completed so that this does not push back any very important end goals and deliverables.
  • Communication, communication, communication
    • ONE communication outlet: This is a very underrated thing, but having only ONE outlet of communication for a team (Discord, text, Slack, etc.) will immensely reduce confusion and help everyone stay on the same page.
    • Meet in person! Call on Discord! Put updates and random thoughts in the group chat! Communication will help your team bond, stay on topic, be focused and productive, and so much more. It is far better to overcommunicate than to undercommunicate.

Food Adventures

Yeah, for one post (and maybe another later), this is going to turn into a food blog haha!
I am a college student, but I really love to explore local restaurants and try different things. I’ve found that a great way to do this on a budget is to pick around 1 place/per week to share an appetizer and entree with a friend or significant other. Many of the places I go also have super affordable prices. Here are a few in the Daytona Beach area that I enjoy!

  • Hi-Pot: hot pot & ramen
  • Pho Saigon: pho/Vietnamese
  • Mama’s Kitchen: Vietnamese
  • Rice Bistro: various Asian cuisines
  • Asian Sauce Box: various Asian & dimsum
  • Leanh’s: various Asian
  • La Perla: really legit tacos & menudo
  • Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta: Italian
  • Larry’s Subs
  • Wayback Burgers
  • Pasha: Turkish/Mediterranean
  • First Watch: brunch
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Taco Bell
  • BJ’s: American
  • Tijuana Flats: fast texmex
  • Masala: Indian
  • Pollo Tropical: Caribbean fast food
  • Ocean Deck: American
  • Red Robin
  • Miller’s Alehouse
  • Wild Ginger: Japanese-American
  • Ford’s Garage: burgers/American
  • Panera
  • Panda Express
  • Pizza Hut
  • Moe’s
  • Domino’s
  • Ichi Ni San: Japanese
  • Landshark: American
  • Culver’s: burgers & cheese curds
  • Takara: hibachi
  • Giuseppe’s: Pittsburgh Italian
  • Gabbie’s: Italian
  • Lan Lamoon: Thai