Danielle

About Danielle

Senior

Communication w/ minors in business & space studies

Hometown: College Park, Maryland Campus Involvement: Caribbean Students' Association Internship: Communication intern with Space Tango, Lexington, Kentucky

My First Launch!

If there is anything to love about Daytona Beach, it’s how amazingly close it is to the Space Coast! You can faintly see the launches from campus, but if you really want the best view, the hour’s drive to Cape Canaveral makes launch viewing even better. Despite how close it is, I have never taken the opportunity to drive down for a front row seat. Thanks to Space Tango, I didn’t have choice – and I was completely okay with it!

I’m interning remotely from the Lexington, KY-based company as their marketing and public relations specialist, so it was only befitting to make sure I was there for the launch of SpaceX CRS-12. This launch carried not only 12 customer research payloads, but an additional TangoLab facility to double available research capacity for Space Tango Customers.

The launch was scheduled for August 14th at approximately 12:31 PM EDT on launchpad 39A, historically know for being used for the first Saturn V launch (Apollo 4) and other Apollo missions including Apollo 11. Needless to say, I was excited. Not only was it my first launch, but I was working. There’s nothing more fulfilling than doing what you love for a living!

I was also fortunate enough to have my family and friends join me for the VIP viewing at Banana Creek, which is also home to the Apollo-Saturn V Center.

I spent a solid 3 hours waiting for launch inside the center, but I was so busy exploring all the exhibits that I almost forgot about the launch! As time neared, my family, friends, and I made our way to the launch seats. Although it was scorching hot outside, it was worth every second of the countdown. I’ve NEVER seen a launch, and the moment I saw plumes of exhaust, my skin was covered with goosebumps.

We were all in awe. In almost no time at all, stage 1 and 2 had separated and Space Tango Payloads were en route to the International Space Station. I took photos, published a press release, and just like that –  my first launch was over and I’m counting down until the next one. While I started my own countdown to the next launch I’d be attending, we enjoyed our access passes to the Kennedy Space Center. That in itself was amazing and well-worth the time (there’s a limited supply, but students and faculty can purchase discounted tickets for KSC).

There are many more photos that I can share and more stories to tell about my first trip to KSC, but I’ll leave that up to you to explore and discover.

⋆ Dani

 

Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Convention and Career Expo

Embry-Riddle is home to a series of prestigious organizations that salute the advancement of minorities within the Aviation and Aerospace industry. I, myself, have recently joined the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. Not only is our advisor the esteemed Dr. Nancy Lawrence, an Associate Professor of Aerospace and Occupational Safety, but our alumni are leaders in the industry. As a member of OBAP, I was invited to attend the 41st Annual Convention hosted in Orlando, Florida at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort.

I was in the presence of professional aviators, captains, air traffic control specialists, and even marketing professionals from the aerospace industry. The weekend consisted of collegiate series, receptions, a job fair, and a gala for the finale. Unlike the ISS Research & Design Conference I attended earlier this year, this convention was catered primarily to the students.

The first night informal and beyond welcoming. For many attendees, it was a lot like a family reunion. Minorities make up a relatively small portion of the demographic; despite these small numbers, OBAP provides an incredibly close-knit community that thrives on encouraging one another’s successes. Within in that night alone, I found myself making jokes with historically influential captains that are paving the way for young Black pilots today.

Of course, I myself am not a pilot or enrolled in an aerospace-specific program, but I was pleased to see that there was still a distinct need and appreciation for communication majors. Although I did make a few connections regarding public relations and marketing, this is an event that greatly benefits aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers, aerospace and occupational safety, and (of course) aeronautical science majors.

Companies in attendance were FedEx, Southwest, Mesa Airlines, JetBlue, and many more. Embry-Riddle was also one of very few colleges with their own booth. Our OBAP chapter members and executive board shared with attendees information on programs and certifications offered at all available degree levels for Prescott, Daytona, and Worldwide.

 

As a senior, this is event was truly beneficial for networking, but more so perspective. This convention is cleverly crafted to make you an active individual with the aerospace industry. It was a dose of reality. The people I met that weekend are the people I hope will be working with in the future. That in itself is a huge honor – stand alongside men and women that strive for not only themselves, but the people that look up to them.

If you’re looking for more information, be sure to check out the official Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals website and DEFINITELY reach out to our school’s local chapter at obap.erau@gmail.com. You can find us at the activities fair as well on September 7th!

⋆ Dani

ISS Research & Design Conference

(From left to right) – Space Tango’s Director of Business and Communication Operations Kirsten Jenkins, CEO Twyman Clements, and myself at our booth.

It’s been a pretty computer-heavy summer with my internship at Space Tango as we prepare for our next batch of customer payloads to be launched on SpaceX CRS-12. From cleaning up the website to controlling social media, I’ve spent the last two months behind screens completing a lot of background work. Needless to say, I was absolutely enthralled when Space Tango invited me to attend this year’s International Space Station Research & Design (ISS R&D) Conference in Washington, D.C.

The ISS R&D Conference is an opportunity for aerospace industry leaders to network among each other, share ideas, and learn from their personal business ventures in commercial space. Through a series of talks, technical sessions, and a huge networking event, I got to learn first-hand what it’s like to be in the industry. Just so you know, they are just as excited and geeked-out about space as any other college student. It’s truly a shared passion.

Not only did I meet several astronauts, like Embry-Riddle Alum Terry Virts, but I also networked with people at Bigelow Aerospace, Leidos, Made In Space, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation to name a few. 

Astronuat Terry Virts and myself – We had a great talk about his experience not only at Worldwide, but at the Daytona campus as well.

Astronaut Kate Rubins shared a detailed story on what it was really like getting to and from the ISS. If you check out the ISS R&D Conference website, you can access a full video on her experience.

Astronaut and Orbital ATK Space Systems Group president Frank Culbertson shared a heart-wrenching story about what it was like to be the only American not on Earth during the 9/11 events. As a military dependent, it was an honor to hear stories from an American hero.

JAXA Astronaut Soichi Noguchi and I not only spoke about JAXA, but I shared a few stories about my time in Japan. Truly an amazing place to visit, but an even better place to live!

It was absolutely exciting to listen to Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow. He shared with the audience why we should remain a leader in space exploration. This was another great talk I urge you to check out at the ISS R&D website!

I even got to meet Dr. Camille Alleyne! We bonded over our Caribbean roots and she even shared some insight on her newest non-profit, The Brightest Stars Foundation. As a woman of color, to say that our conversation was empowering is truly an understatement.

Several students from high schools and universities were also in attendance to share their research. My favorite part of this whole week? A tie between two young women for the Genes in Space Science Contest.

Elizabeth Reizes (14) and Sophia Chen (14) were both named the finalists for the 2017 Genes in Space science contest. Their experiments will be performed aboard the ISS.

The conference was an amazing opportunity and has given me the motivation to get through my last year of my undergraduate degree. It’s a little costly, but this event is well-worth the time for any looking to enter the industry!

⋆ Dani

#BlackGirlMagic in STEM

We come to college to learn from books, but the biggest lessons we gain are from the people we cross paths with. As a woman of color at a predominantly white institution (and predominantly male), it can be challenging to find confidence in yourself. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many inspirational women of all ages and even more so, women of color that seek out not only to advance themselves, but the people around them as well.

For this post I will be highlighting one particular woman that has gone above and beyond at Embry-Riddle. Meet Naia!

Naia is a junior in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Applied Mathematics. She is actively involved in National Society of Black Engineers, McNair Scholars, Kappa Mu Epsilon, Bible Study, and Dreams Soar Inc. With all of this on her plate, Naia is also the founder of Embry-Riddle Dancing Eagles. Naia is a Pathways intern at NASA Glenn Research Center working on a High Power Density CubeSat project. Although she began her Pathways internship last September, she is currently on her second cycle of the program. 

Astronaut and NASA Glenn Research Center Director, Janet Kavandi (left) and student Naia (right) being sworn in for her first day as a Pathways intern.

I’ve watched Naia from the moment she arrived thrive among her peers as an individual, but even the most successful people have fears about fitting in! She was excited to answer a few questions in hopes of relating to other women of color pursuing, or currently in STEM fields.

“As a woman of color on campus, I feel the biggest challenge I face is Atychiphobia – the fear of being wrong. Stereotypes of women of color in society are often negative.”

As a ‘super-minority,’ women of color often feel intimidated in their academic space. We are subjected to expectations on how we act, dress, and behave. These false expectations can place a lot of pressure on women of color.

“I never want to feel like an undeserved token student or the stereotypical uneducated black female,” Naia added.

Like Naia, we’ve faced this fear of our mistakes overpowering our academic strength. Like Naia, however, I have learned to overcome this. I, myself, was fortunate enough to meet Naia, and many women like her within the past few years, who strives beyond false expectations and imaginary boundaries and women that make their own connections and find motivation to persevere.

Organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals exist on our campus to allow minorities such as ourselves to flourish. Such organizations exist for other minority groups as well such as the Society for Hispanic Engineers. All of these clubs, and hundreds more are open to everyone.

Naia’s advice? “Remember to build a network of like-minded, motivated and positive individuals.”

Always remember your goal. How do you define success? Finding people that define success the same way you do will allow you to excel. Women of color have an opportunity to flourish academically and socially alongside women like Naia at Embry-Riddle. The university has an abundance of student organizations that can allow you to find the connections you need to persevere. We may have to work twice as hard for recognition, but we do it together.

We met Ms. Johnson at an annual career fair representing NASA and took it upon ourselves to network! We were then invited for a private tour of Kennedy Space Center. Don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities!(From left to right – Grace Johnson, Education and Youth Projects, Moriah Graham from Aeronautical Science, Danielle Rosales from Communication, and now alumna Cheyenne Nurse with a B.S. in Spaceflight Operations (formerly Commercial Space Operations)

Never forget that we’re more than a statistic, we’re breaking the glass ceiling. We’re pushing the boundaries for another generation. Naia and I encourage women of color to look past fears, concerns and intimidation to attend schools like Riddle to embrace who you are while achieving your dream. There are no limits.

⋆ Dani

Memorial Day Weekend in Georgia

This past Memorial Day weekend, my boyfriend and his family invited me to see a a small piece of Georgia – Conyers. Half an hour away from Atlanta and my boyfriend’s hometown, Conyers became more than just a weekend getaway from Daytona.

With only 3-hour halves, the drive wasn’t bad for him and me at all. Malik and I took the time to talk and share stories about how we got to Riddle and about our hometowns playing a role in our personal goals. Needless to say, I was eager to see somewhere new and where he grew up.

Malik and I with his car Diana (Yes, she is named after Wonder Woman).

The next day, Malik introduced me to a faculty member at Rockdale Career Academy (RCA). RCA is an opportunity for students of the surrounding area to excel in concentrated programs and complete dual enrollment for college courses. Malik in particular took well over five dual enrollment courses that counted for college credit. It was at RCA that he truly put his dream of becoming an Aerospace Engineer into action. Malik also introduced me to his mentor, Rass.

Rass is the type of person you could talk to about life and goals. He shared with me his garden where he grows varying fruits, vegetables, and herbs. If you’re from the Caribbean you are more likely to have an understanding for the term ‘old head.’ It merely means someone older in age with traditional values that stem from Caribbean ties or roots. In this case, Rass is the type of old head that shares his wisdom in hopes of youth achieving their dreams. He reminded Malik and I that success is not based on materialistic matter, but accomplishing our goals. This was only our first day in Conyers and I was being reminded to appreciate opportunity. We ended the night with something more aligned with tradition for Malik and me by attending the 2017 Atlanta J’ouvert. Its celebratory roots date back to slavery. Today, j’ouverts vary throughout different islands and countries of the Caribbean with the same goal – have fun and embrace the culture. There was music, food, and flags (never attend a j’ouvert without your flag).

There were we;;-over 600 people in attendance including famous Caribbean musicians and artists. The flag you see flying on the far left is of Trinidad and Tobago.

Exhausted from the j’ouvert, Malik and I made Saturday a lazy day. We stayed in and played Uno with his brother and sister. His mom even woke up early just to make us stewed oxtails, macaroni pie, and vegetable rice – all foods from the Caribbean that he and I don’t have often in college.

On our last day, Malik took me to the Golf Course where he worked and trained throughout high school. Keep in mind, I have NEVER golfed before. I know ‘zero’ things about golf! He insisted that I give something new a try. I took a swing at it. I took a very, very horrible swing. The ball didn’t move at all and I’m sad to say that I only sent a good chunk of the Earth about 10 feet away (pretty good distance in my opinion). “You’re not gonna hurt the Earth,” Malik reassured me. “Try again.” So I did try again, and again, and again. Eventually I started to get the ball; some landed near and others far. I’d like to think that I’m on way to being a pro, but Malik protests. I’m determined to try it again.

Malik taking a swing after almost a year. He was an all-star in golf and helped lead his team to a championship.

Malik ended the day with a surprise date at a drive-in movie theater. I love going to the movies, and there’s just something about a drive-in theater that fascinates me. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales was a 10/10. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stick around for the post-credits scene.

All-in-all, it was a memorable weekend. I’m happy Malik could share his hometown with me and even happier that we accomplished so much in a few short days. The road-trip was easy for us. We’re hoping to enjoy a few more long weekends throughout the summer and in between classes and work. The Florida Keys, perhaps? I’ll have to ask him what he thinks!

⋆ Dani

 

Missed Connections

From art crawls to art galleries, I dived head-first into the Lexington art scene. I traveled to Cincinnati to visit art galleries and an aquarium. I explored the history behind Kentucky and neighboring states, but there was still much more to do.

There were so many things I missed out in in Kentucky that I wish I had the opportunity to experience. I’m not a basketball fall, but I’ve heard there’s nothing better than bleeding blue at UK basketball game during March Madness. I also missed Keeneland – a local horse derby. Again, horses aren’t a passion of mine, but I had a sunhat or two that I could have sported! Lexington is also home to a few Bourbon trails. I have no idea how Whiskey is made and I don’t have much interest in drinking it, but Lexington is best place to learn more.

Ultimately, I missed out. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is absolutely real (Broad City reference). I kept telling myself that four months is plenty of time. All I did was blink, and my time was up in Lexington. To future interns: consider how much time you truly have in your host city and plan accordingly! If you don’t get something done (like me), then you have an excuse to cater to your wanderlust and visit again. I’ll be back Lexington!

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot

No, but seriously… is Daytona ALWAYS been this hot in May? The moment I drove over the Georgia-Florida state line I could feel the change in heat. Aside from fighting the curly hair struggle in humidity, I’m excited to be back!

Local restaurants and coffee shops like Tia Cori’s and Sweet Marlays’ coffee shop have been calling my name. I can’t forget Bethune Grill – home to the best wings in Daytona. It’s a must-have!

Five minutes beyond the mom-and-pop shops is the “Most Famous Beach in the World.” I’ve already pulled my beach blankets from storage and prepared an emergency beach bag equipped with sun screen, shades, a good book, and a Bluetooth speaker. I’ll always be ready for a spontaneous trip to the beach.

Even better, I have a few friends staying in town for Summer courses so we’ll be getting into the habit of $6 movies on Tuesdays. Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Cars 3 are just a few of the movies on my list.

I’m a year from graduation, so this could very well be my last Summer in Daytona – home to enjoy a lot of local pleasures. I’ve already begun checking things off the list, but for every item I cross out I add three more. I’m not sure if this will ever happen, but I’ve just added Skydiving and Swimming with Manatees.

Special Thanks to Random UK students

I have found that the most difficult thing about an internship is moving. It is an absolutely stressful experience. From finding someone to fill a vacant room in what was my Daytona apartment to a last-minute hunt for a reasonably priced apartment in Lexington, I was constantly jumping over hurdles. Renter’s insurance, guarantor forms, and lease applications consumed me the weeks prior to my internship. If you are familiar with these terms, then you know an apartment hunt can be tasking. It’s even more tasking when you’re moving to a new state. The icing on the cake? The reality hits you that you don’t know anyone in your host city.

I didn’t share this “fear” as I prepared for my internship, but if someone asked me, I couldn’t deny it – I was afraid. I found not only friends at Riddle, but family. How could I make it four months without the company of my closest people. My boyfriend says I got lucky in Kentucky, so I guess I worried for nothing. I was fortunate enough to move into a four-bedroom apartment with University of Kentucky students.

Strangers at first, Tanayisha and Allison made my internship beyond memorable. I truly owe my sanity to them. They showed me around Lexington and made the transition process a lot easier. They even took me to a series of UK events including a forum with Viola Davis. Allison took me to trying boxing and Tanayisha took me to meet a few Greek probates. Just last week before my departure, Allison and Tanayisha took me for a day at the carnival.

Needless to say, I was very fortunate to have them. Internships present a lot of frightening factors we tend to overlook. After my experience, and the ones I’ve heard from others, it’s safe to say that it is first and foremost okay to be afraid. Secondly, be open to letting go of that fear. I missed my friends, but I’m glad that I made two more in Lexington, KY.

 

Back to Business

If you’ve read any of my early blog postings, you’ll know that I’ve accepted another internship term with Space Tango. This time, however, I’ll be working remotely from Daytona Beach. Just between us, I did it for the VIP launch viewing down in Cape Canaveral (insert subtle wink here). Work perks aside, this is a huge opportunity to practice a lot more than Public Relations.

I long for game days in the office. Go big blue!

Aside from handling my usual tasks, my time management and communication skills will be challenged. I’ve already begun to experience the difficulties of working remotely, but with new challenge comes new opportunity. My first four months involved a decent learning curve, but I think working remotely gives me an opportunity to get even more hands-on. I can’t do everything I used to do in the office, but I’ve come to recognize tasks our team overlooked. Within the next few months, I hope to strengthen our digital image.

Much like this blog, I’ll be posting entries on the Space Tango website about the team, company history, and upcoming events. I’m mostly looking forward to the launch of CRS-12 that will be carrying an array of experimental payloads for the TangoLab facility.

Pizza increases productivity!

Ultimately, I am bound to experience some adversity, but I have a great team in Lexington that constantly communicates and guides me. I thought that working remotely would be a loss, but this is certainly a chance to be experience true independence in the workforce.

Goodbye, Kentucky and Hello, Florida!

In two weeks, my Spring internship with Space Tango is over. This was sad news for me. I’ve grown attached the this company and their mission. Like I said though, I was sad. Space Tango has asked me to join them AGAIN in the Summer. Now I can’t stop smiling.

I’ll be working part-time in Florida for Space Tango continuing on as their Communication and Marketing intern, but with a  perk – launches! As the company continues to grow, they will have more customer payloads to launch from Cape Canaveral. So although I’ll be doing most of my work online, I’ll only be an hour away from the Space Coast.

I’m certainly excited about this perk, but as their intern this is extremely ideal. I’ll have more access to Florida sources. I’ll also be present for the more intensive mission preparations prior to launch. They also have a location at the Space Life Sciences Lab in Exploration Park which is a great source for new photos and media content to advance their public image as the growing entity they are.

SLSL

My time with Space Tango has been rewarding. I’ve taken a strong liking to this start-up company, and I’m excited to still be a part of their growth in (sometimes) sunny Florida!

⋆ Dani