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

Delta’s Firsts!

Women’s History Month highlights the contributions to society’s advancements in all fields. As women, it is an uphill battle to overcome adversity in male-dominated careers. This is often enough to make us give up and turn around, but for Captain Stephanie Johnson and Captain Arcie Quintana this was the motivation they needed. Delta’s Firsts, a Women’s History Month celebration, was an inspiring and motivational event for everyone to listen, learn and connect about the adversity female pilots endure.

Captain Stephanie Johnson, currently piloting an Airbus A320, is the first female African-American captain at Delta Airlines. Among many other things, such as being a wife and a mother, Captain Johnson is the Director of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals Cleveland Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy.

Captain Isaura Arcie Quintana, currently piloting the Boeing 757 and 767, is the first female Latina Captain at Delta Airlines. Captain Quintana endured many hurdles while pursuing her career as a single mother, including financial instability. Despite these challenges, she was the first and only female pilot at JetWest Aviation. The Captain was also the first female pilot to fly MD-90s for Great American Airways and Sunjet Aviation prior to beginning her career at Northwest Airlines. Her success defines the possibilities we can all achieve if we persevere.

Both captains shared with the audience their backgrounds, their history, and the numerous challenges they continue to face as women in aviation. Despite this, they shared their confidence in Delta Airlines and other airlines as they continue to learn new ways to empower and encourage women. Captain Johnson explained that Delta’s Women’s Employee Network encourages female employees to empower one another. It includes pilots and corporate employees alike.

Below are some things they would like women to keep in mind not only this month, but as we continue to pursue our careers:

  1. “Don’t Guess!”Captain Quintana
    Someone else has gone through the hiring process. Connect with them and learn from their experience.
  2. “You’re teaching your children what it means to be a strong woman.”Captain Johnson
    For those that wish to have children and pursue a career – It’s more than possible.
  3. “In flying, half the battle is the confidence you have in yourself.”Captain Johnson
    Your purpose is to make yourself proud. Every time you take off and every time you land is a reflection of dedication and devotion. It’s what really matters.
  4. “You can make it happen no matter what. You have money. You don’t have money. Make it happen.”Captain Quintana
    No excuses. Captain Quintana educated herself thanks to grants and scholarships. Utilize your resources! There’s always a way.

Delta’s First was hosted by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals student chapter as well as the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (Pictured Left to Right – Captain Stephanie Johnson, Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion Kenneth Hunt, OBAP advisor Dr. Nancy Lawrence, various OBAP members, and Captain Arcie Quintana).

⋆ Dani

 

Reminiscing with OBAP

Student clubs and organizations THRIVE on campus. There are over 200 different organizations ranging from professional organizations, major-specific orgs, and even clubs for music and the arts. There’s a home for everyone, and I found a home in the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP).

We hosted our first ever OBAP week during Black History Month and we’re finally compiling all of the content. OBAP week emphasizes our pillars – scholarship, leadership networking, and community service.

This was our OBAP week flyer that we distributed throughout campus. All events were open to everyone and we were happy to see that faculty members participated in events as well.

Sunday, club members got together to paint the Spirit Rock. Located steps away from the Student Center, the Spirit Rock is a point of self-expression for students on campus. OBAP was excited to add the layers of painted history that the rock provides the student body.

Our finished product! We definitely aren’t spray paint masters, but in the process of painting the rock we got a chance to bond, talk, and just have fun.

Throughout the week we displayed Black Aviation/Aerospace Facts in the student center. This was an opportunity to shed light on the giants that paved the way for Black and African-Americans in aviation.

Prior to flying with United Airlines, Captain Marshall served in the United States Air Force beginning in 1964. In 1972, Captain Marshall was forced to eject over enemy territory and was captured. He was a Prisoner of War (POW) until his release in 1973. Our members and other attendees were fortunate enough to hear his stories as an African-American in the USAF and a POW in the 60s and 70s – a time of racism and civil injustice. His stories highlight the importance of celebrating Black History Month as well as the other men and women that contribute to “reclaiming our time.”

Later in the week, we attended the Embry-Riddle Basketball games with the Caribbean Students Association. Dressed in our blue and gold, we were the embodiment of school spirit. Still one of the best games I’ve been to!

Our members also got the opportunity to participate in the half-time games. I honestly can’t remember if we won; we were so busy cheering that we didn’t know what we were really cheering for. We were just excited! The games are a must.

On Friday, we invited Bethune-Cookman University to participate in our annual trivia night. Questions were centered around Black history, aviation, aerospace, and pop culture.

OBAP closed off the week with a leadership retreat in Orlando. Staying in the house allowed us to bond, connect, and learn from one another.

In light of all of these events and the upcoming close of the year, our club (myself, especially) is reminiscing. This was a semester to cherish. Thank you to everyone that participated and those that will participate in the future. OBAP is Embry-Riddle and I couldn’t be more proud to be an Eagle!

To see more of OBAP’s events and our role in the Embry-Riddle campus community, check out our Instagram.

⋆ Dani

From Dress Shirt to Concert

I posted this on Instagram and got over 200 likes!

Resumes were hot off the printer and my suit was pressed smooth. I was career expo ready! Thanks to CareerFair plus, I was able to map out my day. I’ve gone to just about every career fair since my time at Riddle, and it has always proven to be a beneficial event. Whether I’m job hunting or just networking, I learn a little more about the industry and myself each time.

The only difference this year? I’m on the lookout for full-time opportunities. That’s right – a big girl job. It was kind of intimidating going into this year, but the school definitely had me prepared. Elevator speeches, resume reviews, and info sessions all contribute to developing a well-rounded understanding and approach to getting the most out of the event.

I spoke to several amazing companies including The Spaceship Company, Orbital ATK, and Jet Support Services, Inc, among many others. I also had to opportunity to see a few alumni return and do recruiting themselves. I also competed in the Career Fair Instagram challenge and earned second place for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

With all the career fair preparation, it was great to relax the following Friday at WIKD’s Spring Block Party featuring Bas! Not only was Bas the first rap artist to perform at Embry-Riddle, but he’s signed under J-Cole’s Dreamville Records.

The concert took place on the west lawn after a series of smaller activities like kettle corn and inflatable obstacles. WIKD is the campus radio station and they even gave out t-shirts and bandannas. The best part? IT WAS FREE. WIKD really came through with this one for the campus and I look forward to seeing what else they coordinate in the future.

The crowd was ecstatic and Bas definitely enjoyed himself. He even ran off stage and one point to be with the student body. His DJ was amazing, too! All-in-all, the music was energetic. It was “pure vibes” as my friends and I like to say. It was a great end to a busy and eventful week.

⋆ Dani

Falcon Heavy Launch Viewing

Attending university in Florida is my escape from the cold. Attending Embry-Riddle, well that’s me running towards opportunity. Riddle has a lot to offer, and with about an hour drive from Kennedy Space Center you’re bound to witness a few launches.

We got to our launch viewing site 6 hours early just to find parking. It was packed minutes after we parked.

People were scattered across the bridge, down by the banks of water…

On February 6th, SpaceX successfully launched what is now the world’s most powerful operational rocket – the Falcon Heavy. As a writer, and sometimes journalist, there is nothing better than a good story. I find that the best stories are the one’s we witness.

To watch history be made and, in a very indirect way, be a part of that history is an opportunity we should never deny. The launch was on a Tuesday and I may have had classes… For the record, I in no way condone skipping classes! I made sure to get any work done ahead of time and got notes from friends. I also willingly accepted any penalties. It’s also my senior year, so I decided to treat myself with some rocket fuel, but I digress.

The Falcon Heavy was originally scheduled for 1:30 PM EST in Cape Canaveral with an available launch window until 4:00 PM, but due to upper level winds the launch time was changed several times. The last available launch time was scheduled at 3:45 PM. With only a 15 minute launch window, not accounting for the time needed to load propellant and liquid oxygen prior to the launch time, my friends and I were accompanied by an equally anxious launch audience of over 400 people (that was in our viewing area alone). On the dot at 3:45 PM, jaws dropped and everyone was in awe at the huge plumes of exhaust and smoke that trailed behind the Falcon Heavy.

… and even in their boats! It was exciting to see how many people came out to watch the launch.

Its 27 engines carried the Tesla roadster, and many other interesting payloads, beyond what our naked eyes could see as we desperately snapped whatever pictures we could of our own.

Leftover smoke plume from the Falcon Heavy launch.

We were a good 15 miles from the actual launch site, but we could still feel the heavy winds left behind followed by that endearing ‘boom’ you can only enjoy from a rocket launch. This one was better, though. It’s only my second rocket launch, but definitely not my last!

Space development and research is exciting for those that follow it, but SpaceX popularized it with the Falcon Heavy launch. There are people who find it controversial, but it’s nearly irrefutable that the launch reminded us that space exploration is amazing. It’s fun, exciting, and it certainly deserves our attention beyond February 6th. I could be a little biased though…

My friends and I post launch!

⋆ Dani

Good to be Back!

Maybe it’s the countdown, but I feel more at home now than I ever have before here at Embry-Riddle. I had a successful start to my last semester and got approved for graduation! I just have to get through four more classes and I can cross the stage in May, but until then I’m going to enjoy every day leading up to it all!

Classes began last Wednesday, but thanks to all my classes being on Tuesdays and Thursdays I had an especially long weekend! I, of course, began it with a weekly Caribbean Students Association (CSA) meeting. It’s been cold in Daytona lately, so being around my loving islanders was warming by itself. Nothing beats the Caribbean beaches, though! CSA also unveiled their hand-painted crest today that will be hung in the Student Center. In addition to a plane, the student center is also decorated with crests from various clubs and organizations like the African Students Association.

The Caribbean Students Association and their new crest.

We continued the weekend with a cookout between the dorms with two grills for added warmth. For many of us, it was our first time seeing others since the break. It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but at Riddle clubs become family and I was finally seeing my brothers and sisters after a month too long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday night, I went to a “State of the Dream Address” at Bethune-Cookman University in honor of the great Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a truly moving

event that featured individuals in the community working to make a difference throughout Volusia County.  The most exciting part of the event was the keynote speaker – Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author of several books including Tears We Cannot Stop and sociology professor at Georgetown University. He’s an amazing speaker, but to hear his words in person is a truly unique experience. He spoke of King, but he also spoke about race and prejudice in American today from multiple perspectives. He briefly discussed the trending #MeToo that addresses sexual assault and complicity. “[Rosa Parks] was a part of ‘Me Too’ before me too became popular.” The issues we face today are not new and it’s important that we acknowledge the voices that cried out years before.

Dr. Dyson also provided words of encouragement to his predominately undergraduate-oriented audience – “If you’ve prepared yourself, you can take advantage of

opportunity when it comes knocking on your door.” It’s important that we as students take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally, but to also take of each other. We’re here together so why not make the best of it?

Needless to say, it was an amazing and eye-opening weekend. I was fortunate enough to spend it surrounded my family.

 

The Final Countdown

From late nights in the College of Business computer lab to early mornings in the library, Riddle has become a home away from home. I’ve laughed, cried, and have grown as a person. Friends have become family and clubs have become a day-to-day must. This, and so much more, has made my collegiate experience one worth remembering. Despite it all, I am counting down the days! As of today, I am 113 days away from graduation on May 7th and I couldn’t be more excited.

As I look back at last semester, I have to really take pride in my hard work. I attended the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals 41st Convention in Orlando.

ERAU OBAP members and myself take a picture with our advisor, Dr. Nancy Lawrence, and  fellow alumni.

I also got to present my own research in October at the The Popular Culture Association in the South and the American Culture Association in the South Conference. This was a huge milestone for me personally. I’ve never conducted research before, so to present among others in communication and literature was a huge honor.

PCAS/ACAS was hosted in Savannah, Georgia

I designed my first mission patch as well, through Space Tango for our payloads on SpaceX CRS- 13!

SpaceTango SpaceX CRS-13 took place in December and was the last customer launch of 2017.

I even got to utilize this research later on in Dr. Silverman’s Contemporary Issues in Science (HU 302). The final exam allowed students to communicate in an array of media including papers, videos, and even a painting. I’ve been too busy to paint in my free time, so I eagerly informed Dr. Silverman I would illustrate the findings of my research through a painting.

“Hush, Hair” is the result of a qualitative approach to my research “Hair Talks, but do we Listen?” that consisted of a 7-woman focus group in which participants shared their struggles, origins, and perception of their natural hair dialogues within the workplace.

All-in-all, I spent last semester experiencing new things, networking (as usual), and finding a way to bridge my interests with my work. I think we can find enjoyment in just about anything if we make it so. As this new year starts, I look forward to maintaining the same open mind in my new courses and throughout the infamous grad school/job hunt. Step-by-step, right?

⋆ Dani

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