Danielle

About Danielle

Senior

Communication w/ minors in business & space studies

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

#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

I Began my Morning with a Little Bit of Gardening

I’m a Communication major and I hope to be a public relations specialist for the aerospace industry. Somehow though, I’ve gotten into a little bit of hydroponic gardening at Space Tango.

garden1

Each glass cup was filled with mulch pebbles surrounding a pod of seeds. Connecting each cup a tubing system that will cycle the water from one cup to the next until it returns back to the water tank. (That’s my hand by the way, doing science things instead of writing.)

This morning the Space Tango biomedical engineer and her intern asked for a little help with a prototype hydroponic system. I had no idea how to even begin such a system, but with a little guidance I soon found myself placing pebbled mulch, seeds, and burlap. A decent amount of duct tape later and we had a fully-functioning hydroponic system. As water flowed from cup to cup, I couldn’t believe I was “just ” a Communication major. I think our positions are what we make of them, but they aren’t meant to be boundaries.

garden2

To the right you’ll see our water tank accompanied by a small pump. Attached to the pump is one end of the tubing. After cycling through each glass cup, the final tubing flows water back into the tank to begin the process again.

garden3

To help contain the mulch and soon-to-be plants, burlap was taped to the surface of each cup. Believe it or not, this was the hardest part for us.

I spent my time here at Space Tango on a computer working on press releases, networking, websites, and social media. Just for today, I spent it in the lab. I got to get a first-hand try of what I report. It’s just a prototype, but it’s a step in the scientific process. It was exciting to be a part of it! As a writer, it’s great to be able to try the things you only get to write about.

⋆ Dani

 

Escaping the Comfort Zone

I am skilled at writing, marketing, project management, and graphic design. I have ZERO experience in website design.  I can now say that I have experience in website design thanks to a little push from Space Tango.

What was once a daunting task has become an everyday skill I tend to. The Space Tango website didn’t correlate with their desires and needs. The overall sitemap was confusing and it didn’t reflect the simple and sleek design of their CubeLabs and other manufactured products.

Granted, I have a background in design,  but it doesn’t compare to leading websites within the aerospace industry.

screenshot-www.spacetango.com-2017-03-29-15-17-35

It’s not perfect, but it’s new to me and a change for them. It’s a skill I really overlooked and, quite honestly, never attempted. Now I not only have something to add to my resume, but I feel more comfortable trying different things within my field that make me more desirable in the market.

screenshot-www.spacetango.com-2017-03-29-15-16-39I had to conduct a series of interviews with employees and partners to make sure I was effectively communicating the company mission. I embedded videos and reorganized the site in its entirety. I’m most proud of how clean the design looks. We used a professional photographer at the CRS-10 launch to take photos of payloads and customers. Now we have quality content.; This makes all the difference in design.

Now I’m working on the company’s brand. This includes the logo, slogan, theme, mission statement, etc. I have some more great ideas, but I’ve decided to take on HTML coding to give me a little boost. I mean, why not?

⋆ Dani

 

The Queen City

My internship has given me a serious case of wanderlust. Lexington is new to me. It’s different from my hometown in Maryland and it’s a big change compared to Daytona Beach. I’ve taken it upon myself to truly explore the area and surrounding cities. A week ago my boyfriend visited for Spring Break, and although we indulged in all things Kentucky, we made it our mission to see as much as we could of The Queen City.

Downtown Cincinnati has several art galleries, museums, and an aquarium all close by. In two days we saw it all. The first was the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Many of their exhibits were heart-wrenching to say the least. The center not only addresses slavery and racism, but sex trafficking of all kinds throughout the world. It was difficult to walk through at times, but it was eyeopening. Their most valued exhibit right now is a slave pen from the 1800s.

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959d2dd2bcaa46d6bc69b6a92b49e947Recovered from Mason County, Kentucky, it housed slaves prior to auctions. The building was repaired and moved to the Freedom Center for display. Standing in its presence was truly haunting. The structure itself brought an eerie vibe to the room, but not as unsettling as it was to step inside. My boyfriend and I hesitantly walked inside. We were in awe. To step foot in what once housed hundreds upon hundreds of slaves, and to now be walking in and out freely, was significant.

Although it was our favorite, our visit to the Freedom Center was much more jarring than we had anticipated and decided to recover at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It was relaxing to roam among such amazing artworks. The visit was planned solely because of Undergrowth with Two Figures (1890) by Vincent Van Gogh. f6be3cfd8793427e9000661a737fa640

His artwork has always been my favorite and certainly lightened the mood after our trip to the Freedom Center. I search for him in every city and was pleased to find him in The Queen City accompanied by Georgia O’Keefe, Georges Raoualt, Arshile Gorky, and many others.60f87f4333a74c99af54c10f8c40420b

 

We planned to visit galleries and museums, but we ended up visiting a new side to ourselves. Wanderlust unexpectedly accompanies internships, and embracing that is half of the excitement.

⋆ Dani