About Natalie


Engineering Physics

**Hometown:** Arlington, Washington
**Why I chose Embry-Riddle:** I was so delighted to find a college that was all about aerospace.


Editor’s Note:

Natalie came to Embry-Riddle as a freshman in 2007. She shared her first year experience with us then in her online journal. You can view it here.

We’re pleased to congratulate Natalie on her internship at NASA. She’s blogging her experience there and we invite you to follow Natalie as she embarks on this exciting and prestigious adventure. Visit her blog at nas-at-nasa.blogspot.com.

April 27

Well, this is it. I’m 2 mornings away from finishing the last part of my first year of college. I’ve been missing my family so much lately and I can’t wait to see friends, too. It’s been a great day of reflection as I packed and enjoyed the sunny weather outside. My room suddenly looks so white and bare… but it helps me grasp the fact that I’m not going to be here much longer. Four months is a long time and I’m excited to get back to my beloved Cessna 140 and finally finish getting my pilot’s license. I’m also going to be working at Boeing (I haven’t heard back about 2 internships I applied for yet) or at good ‘ol Red Robin. I need to make money for flying and school, of course. And, there’s hanging out with friends, getting new clothes, and going to Oshkosh to be saving for as well.

The week before the last week of classes was UGLY! I was working so hard on my final project for programming. I ended up going to tutoring every night for several hours just to debug small pieces of code. But, when I finished, it was a great feeling and I ended up getting 100% on it!! I could hardly believe it! It was a server-training program for Red Robin in C-language. Fun stuff! With this amazing grade, I ended up with a beautiful A in the class! The professor even made our final optional and since an A is an A, I said, “No thanks!” It felt so good to have one less thing to study for and know I got an A in a 3-credit class!

I did have a few breaks in there, of course! One afternoon, I went to Sonic with Alex and on another afternoon, Ritter’s with some friends. I love ice cream and they are no exception! Also, to celebrate finishing a tough week, a friend from Doolittle and I went to a girl’s apartment from church to eat pizza and watch movies. It feels bizarre to be around just females having been at Riddle for months… I had fun getting in touch with my girly side.

Saturday was the last CFC. We had several songs to sing for worship and although I had a bit of a cold, I loved every minute. How sad I won’t get to sing with my fellow college Christians for 4 months!! Pastor Jeremy from Calvary was the speaker and he gave a great message inspiring us to use our summer time well. (I go to Embrace, Calvary’s college ministry on Thursdays.) After, a bunch of guys and myself went to Cracker Barrel for a late dinner. The beginning and end of semesters always involve going out for meals a lot! Ha. I was also laughing about the fact that at Riddle being the only girl when you go places is not unusual and it doesn’t at all mean you are flirty… How strange.

Another example of that happened the very next day when a bunch of us from church went to Chili’s. I had a lot of studying to do after that fun lunch, though. After practicing physics problems with a friend, three of us spent an hour taking hilarious pictures on Photo Booth with my Mac. I love that program!

The last week of school was filled with 2 physics tests, a lab final, and a calculus final. It was tough, but it felt good to get everything done! I didn’t honestly feel that I did spectacularly well on any of those four things, but I did my best and think my grades will be just what I was hoping for.

On Wednesday, my classes were completely finished and it was a wonderful feeling! To tell the truth, sitting in class was torturous! But, that’s normal at any level of schooling! That night, we had our last Bible study and it was in my room. We talked about ministry opportunities for next semester and how we could grow our faith over the break. I felt sad looking around at my friends and realizing how long it would be before seeing them again. However, I realized how wonderful it was to have people to miss. I didn’t do too much with people during the first semester and thus didn’t make too many close friends, so I’ve cherished these past months. Plus, we do live in the 21st century and have so many ways to communicate, so I should stop being a baby about it! 🙂

We closed the night out with watching Thou Shalt Laugh 2 (DVD of Christian comedians… hilarious!) and 45 minutes of Photo Booth. I have been so determined to take as many pictures as I can with my friends because I haven’t done it the rest of the semester! So check out all my pics on facebook.

Thursday, I studied calculus and then went to the last Embrace service before going to a Campus Outreach pig roast luau. The Acafellas (a talented group of performers on campus) put on a show for the luau guests and we all enjoyed that as well as the tasty food. Both events were very fun, but my friends and I took it a step further by stopping at Wal-Mart for dessert and then watching the Bourne Supremacy. Phew! What a busy night!

My favorite day of the week had to be Friday when my two friends from my floor and I took off for St. Augustine. We had been planning it for about a month so I was dying in anticipation! As I mentioned at some point in these journals, my sister graduated from Flagler college up there, so I was kinda the tour guide of the group. We started off by going shopping at the outlet malls. We found lots of good deals and I enjoyed watching the guys shop. It was quite funny. After, we made our way to The Reef. It’s one of my family’s favorite restaurants (we always get the coconut shrimp) in the area and my mom had sent me a great coupon for the place.

When we completed the experience, we walked the two feet it took us to get to the beach. It was a gorgeous day and we all enjoyed dipping our feet in the surf. Next, we explored the old town. I took them down the beautiful and fun St. George street where we found goodies and flip flops. I also showed my friends Flagler college and it’s beautiful interior. It used to be the Ponce de Leon hotel.

We took the scenic route back (A1A instead of I-95) and finished the day off by meeting a bunch of friends at Ritter’s (one of whom was our friend with the Virginia NASA internship- he had just finished and came down to visit before going home to Washington).

The next day I anxiously awaited my calculus final. Once it started, I felt confident knowing I had plenty of time and had spent enough time studying. The next thing on the agenda was going to the honors final where we sat for two hours listening to presentations about papers. It was hard to stay focused with the dim lighting. Finally finished for the day, some girl friends and I watched Enchanted before a bunch of friends from Christian Fellowship Club and I went to Applebees. I just got a smoothie since I had eaten dinner already. By the end of the night, I was so tired!

And now we’re all caught up to today. We started the morning off with Starbucks. The barista was very friendly and lively. 🙂 Then, I enjoyed my last time at church and we went to Subway afterward and I spent the rest of the day packing and reminiscing as I said.

I made an album of this last month, so check it out!

Well, I just have my physics final on Tuesday morning left and then I’ll no longer be a freshman! I’m also planning to go to the beach at least once and Bubba Gump’s as well as Martini’s Chophouse. I will certainly miss some of the fun restaurants and places around here… especially the beach and the weather! God has been so good to me and I’ve overcome so many obstacles! I can’t wait to start sophomore year having a year of experience “under my belt”.

Thanks for listening to me for a whole year! I hope I was able to share some valuable information and insight and encourage you to come to Riddle! I’ve already made some amazing and most likely life-long friends!

I’ve learned so much and have so much more to learn still before I can officially call myself an engineer and a physicist, but I’ve made a big step in the right direction! I at least achieved a respectable GPA and can certainly count on my scholarships and the Honors Program, too, so not bad! Please contact me if you have any questions!!

Summer, here I come!

Only a freshman for a few more days,

Natalie Spencer


April 14

Happy April to you (our last month)! I’ve had some spectacular weekends lately going along with the spectacular weather! Also, the countdown to summer is getting deliciously low but I have been a bit ridiculous by writing down how many class days I have for each subject as well as tallying finals, studying, and anything else you can think of. Let’s just say I’m excited to fly back home proudly having completed my first year of college! Crazy.

Everything seems to be winding down: I just completed my last math assignment, last physics homework, last honors paper, and tomorrow is my last lab. But, before I get too excited too early (I do have 2 tests and 4 finals left after all!), let me tell you about the proverbial last two weeks:
The Christian Fellowship Club camping retreat was quite different than I expected. I don’t know why, but I just assumed there would be a big open area with sand and hot springs everywhere. I didn’t know FL could have so many trees and BUGS. The first car to arrive (including me) got eaten alive by gnats. Back home, they do no such thing… mosquitoes are the only major annoyance and even then, there’s usually not too many. We burned many ‘a fire to try to smoke the area out. Finally, relief arrived and we sprayed ourselves completely with deet-filled goodness. It worked! The rest of the days were spent getting burnt, snorkeling, finding beautiful shells, chasing vultures, eating s’mores, worshipping, talking, and discovering our inner pyromaniac. It wasn’t all that restful, but it was still a great time of fellowship and I’m so glad I went! (As I’m writing this over 2 weeks later, I’m finally completely recovered from the bites as well as the burn. Ha)

When we returned on Sunday, Campus Outreach had a barbeque social in the pits by McKay, so my friends from the floor and I went to investigate. We had a great time laughing and playing volleyball as the sunset disappeared.

The first half of the following week was quite busy doing homework and writing papers. But, because I was faithful, I was able to enjoy little fun things sprinkled in. For example, on Wednesday I went to a little island on the opposite side of the state with floor buddies in one of the guy’s Cessna. We took some great pictures and enjoyed the ride. It was wonderful because I had been missing flying so much! Later that night, we went to Patty Wagstaff’s talk. I’d honestly never heard of her before, but when I found out about her legacy, accomplishments, and spirit, I was so impressed and relished the amazing chance to take a picture with her, get an autograph, and hear her speak. She was the first woman to win the yearly national aerobatic competition and she did it 3 times. (Ironically, we saw her again at Sun ‘N Fun, but more on that later…)

Thursday was also great because I was able to sleep in and after doing some long studying and my daily exercise routine, I went to the nearby Volusia mall with Alex and a friend from Doolittle. We tried on dresses at Macy’s and had Dippin’ Dots. I also watched a chick flick that night and played a fun game called Viva Pinata… it was nice to be girly again after typically spending all my time with my two guy friends from the floor.

On Saturday, I was out in the sun yet again because of the CFC beach trip. We went to the beautiful Ponce Inlet and saw the lighthouse as we enjoyed riding the waves. I had a great talk with a friend I’d never really been able to chat with before. We all also enjoyed burying a fellow CFC member in sand. A huge storm warning was announced right as we were leaving, so it was perfect timing.

I did more homework before going to bed at a good time for church. After the service, several of us from Riddle and some others from Sovereign Grace met at Panera for lunch. I’d never been there before, so I was delighted to find how delicious and wonderfully French the whole experience was. I can’t wait to go back again sometime!

The rest of the day was study, study, study. I only had 5 days until the very last calc test and I wanted to do well. This mindset carried through the entire week. I pretty much just did homework, exercised, and studied. It paid off because I felt very confident about my test (Which ended up being 20% better than class average!!).

To celebrate, I went to Sun ‘N Fun which was just like its name suggested. It was a great bonding time with other CFC and floor friends. We had breakfast at Chick-Fil-A which provided a hilarious quote from our driving student: “… and can we get 5 orange juice pleases?” We all roared with laughter and continued along the drive-thru line. At the event, I learned a lot. Lunch was provided at the Embry-Riddle Alumni tent. The buffet even had coconut shrimp!! I couldn’t believe it! My favorite part of the day was, of course, the airshow. There are some amazing pilots out there! We stopped at good ‘ol Steak ‘N Shake on the way back and I realized that there was an ‘N in two of the places we’d gone.

So, now as the busy new week continues, I remember the fun times I had and slowly progress toward the end of my freshman year. It’s so close yet riddled (no pun intended) with tests and finals… With God’s help, I will make it through successfully. I can hardly wait to be relaxing at home with no agenda and no rigid schedule (at least for a week or so). Until next time… when I’ll only have 2 finals left before going home…

Natalie Ann



March 28

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since spring break started. That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case for many college-age kids who have invaded Daytona. I hear “spring break season” is over a month since schools have differently timed breaks. Going to the beach for an hour or so yesterday with Alex confirmed my suspicions- the beach was packed. Yesterday was gorgeous and this weekend is looking to be even more so. 80s and blue skies all the way! Perfect for… camping?! Let’s just say going on the Christian Fellowship Club retreat to a hot springs area will be the strangest camping experience of my life. Whatever the differences, I know we’ll all have a wonderful time.

How can I do all of this great stuff during the semester? Well, I work ahead big time. For example, we were just supposed to turn in topic ideas for our last 10-page honors paper, but I turned in the whole thing. I’m not trying to brag with that, but just sharing the value of planning ahead so you can enjoy fun things that come up. Plus, I had an 8 hr layover in Charlotte, NC on the way to spring break in DC due to crazy thunderstorms and morning fog. Yep, quite the day, I have to say. I never thought I’d be typing up a report my first day of break.

Well, I could go on forever about the trip, but I think I’ll just let my pictures do the talking for me. I made sure to make my Facebook albums of the trip public, so even if you don’t have an account, you can check it out .

Easter was very special! I went to Calvary’s Alive 08 service. It was spectacular and many people professed Christ, so what a memorable time! It was all about the power even just one person has to change the world whether for good or for bad. If I am faithful, I can be that “one” that God will use for good. Also that day, my friend and I decided to randomly clean our buddy’s room and put some funny decorations in there too. He had given my friend staying at school for break the keys to his room and car, so we went after it the Sunday I returned. I love cleaning every once in awhile and had a great time. When we were finally happy with the result, we made some hilarious videos with two other guys on the floor and also took goofy pictures. It felt nice to do something for someone else. Being at college, it’s hard to be unselfish and serve others. That’s always a huge priority in my life, though, so I’m very happy we went through with it. He ended up being very surprised and encouraged, so hooray! You can check out our silly pictures here:


Well, other than only having a month left to finish up projects, study for the last tests and finals, we’ve had lots of excitement on campus recently. For example, we had a crazy awesome army helicopter land in Spruance field yesterday. I was sitting outside doing physics in the sun when it practically flew a circle around my head. The two rotors were pretty impressive and I’ve never seen anything like that in person before. Forgive me for forgetting the name, but I accidentally deleted the e-mail about it. Maybe one of the other writers will mention it .

Also adding to a busy campus was early registration and housing lottery choices. I had completely forgotten that honors/sports people could begin picking classes on Monday until I saw the course booklet in my mailbox. Suddenly, I had to begin the registration adventure yet again. First step was looking up classes I’m supposed to take sophomore year. It looked bleak at first, with only three classes that didn’t require another prerequisite or co-requisite class, but I found two more I could take. Next, I got Dr. Kain to sign for my honors course, Dr. Wanliss to sign as my EP advisor, and Jenny H. to sign as my freshman advisor. Busy, busy, I know, but a small price to pay for always getting the classes I want. Anyway, here’s my course list for next semester:

Statics –Barsoum–

Honors Seminar3 (Climate change) –Snow–

Calculus 3 –Chakrabarti–

Solids –Wang–

Physics 2 –Reynolds–

… for a total of 16 credits

As for spring, I’m looking at a lovely mix of dynamics, differential equations, physics 3, and physics 3 lab. Not sure what else I’ll put in there. I’ve heard that there’s an electrical course that I could take to get it over with, but I don’t know.

I do love the fall schedule, though because I never have a class earlier than 9:45 and three times a week that moves to 11:45. Also, I have an hour or two between classes in the middle of the day where I can work out or work in SPRL. And the best part? I’m never done later than 3:30. Not bad, huh?

And, as crazy as the lottery result event in the Fountain Room (in the village) was, we came out just fine. Two friends from CFC who are on the floor above me in Doolittle found another girl in their hall to join with our group. We also knew of four other girls in Doolittle who wanted an Apollo room just like we did. They had a lower number (It’s a random assignment when you turn in a housing registration form), though, and they didn’t get one, so we all jumped in together and got an O’Connor room. If you have to be in O’Conner, in my opinion, our room is the best. Fifth floor and close to the elevator and big lounge but not too close. Hopefully, we’ll have many good times in that suite next year. From what I can tell, there will be many hilarious days because we all love to laugh. 🙂 If you’ll be on campus next year and want to know more about anything I mentioned in my journals, feel free to come visit us sometime!

Well, I’m going to go enjoy the weather and make it through my four classes today so I can get going on the retreat!

March 16

It’s finally here!! Yes, indeed, glorious Spring Break begins this weekend! I’m sure I will have much to tell you about my adventures in Washington DC with my mom next time, but for now, I’m gonna go back in time a couple of weeks and let you know what I’ve been up to!

Let me begin with a somewhat funny story. I had the pleasure of finding an old video online that I wrote and co-starred in. Before my sophomore (I think…) year of high school I had the privilege of attending a summer camp for young women put on by Microsoft. With a wonderfully nerdy name like DigiGirlz, it was an unforgettable and very informative experience. One of the projects was making a promotion video. To this day, I absolutely love being goofy, dressing up, and making home videos, so I signed right up. They added closed caption later since the sound quality isn’t the best and also for deaf people to enjoy as well. Hopefully, you can get a good laugh out of it, too! Here’s the link:


Well, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll move on to classes. As I read through my blog last time, I realized how little I talk about school versus all of the fun things I get to do. I hope I haven’t misrepresented what I do down here!! 🙂 Honestly, a HUGE majority of my time is spent in classrooms and studying. I didn’t even work in SPRL the last few weeks so I could be focused. But, seeing as you all probably don’t want to hear too much about every math problem I’m working on or my study method for a random Honors seminar quiz, I usually just share an overview. Nice disclaimer, huh? But, seriously, I have been extremely busy trying to do well in my three tough classes (Calculus 2, Physics, and Programming). It’s a big step up from last semester when I only had Chemistry to “worry” about.

Last week I did hardly anything but study (and attend an ab workout class with a CFC friend :)). In math, I did practice problems over and over and made sure I had memorized all of the difficult formulas. For physics, I typed up every problem we had done in class and on the homework to work through and also memorized formulas. And finally, for programming, I made a paper for each type of syntax (loops, arrays, files, random, etc…) and the proper way to use them in a program. As soon as all three tests in “Round 2” were over, I was ready to relax!

A buddy of mine on the floor had a birthday on Thursday, so several of us went out to Carrabba’s for dinner. I had a delicious ravioli! 🙂 The next day, we were able to experience a huge storm! We even had a couple of tornado warnings. Despite the heavy rain, a few of us ventured out to the hockey game to enjoy and see our other drummer friend in the pep band (who is also on the CFC worship team with me and takes others and me to church).

Saturday, I slept in and worked on a few scholarships my mom had prepared for me to do. I also finished up the very last Physics Lab formal report (we only do three of these a semester). I left my room fairly early so I could go practice for CFC worship team. The guys had gotten a tambourine, but I just wasn’t comfortable enough with it to play. I’ll work on it and learn new rhythms from the others so I hopefully can do it for the next meeting. I’m fine with keeping beat, but just don’t know how to do anything fancy or not too insanely repetitive. Instead, I focused on truly singing with all my heart. It was a true night of worship and I loved it!

After singing, we had the privilege of having the original founder of the club, Dr. Wheeler, come and speak. We learned that CFC was the very first club on campus and the first meeting was only six people, two of which were the dean and his secretary. He was very encouraging and inspiring and led us in Communion after sharing. His words reminded me that I couldn’t give up on what the Lord has called me to do. So even when I’m feeling discouraged about grades and wondering if Engineering Physics is too hard for me or not, I need to pray and trust.

Sunday was also a great time of praise and fellowship! After the wonderful sermon, the whole church had a picnic outside. We, of course, didn’t remember to bring food, so we just had a blast playing volleyball with some little kids. They were so much fun! By the end of the hour, the group had grown and we were all laughing and playing away. Somehow, I managed to get burnt which is a very rare thing for me unless I’m at the beach.

Hmm… I suppose you might be wondering what life in Doolittle is like for me now that I’m very settled in. Well, I don’t know what to say other than it’s nice and quiet in my room. Almost every night, I go to Einstein’s with my two friends and then we play guitar hero (I’m SLOWLY improving…ha.), watch a TV show from someone’s vast DVD collection, or just sit around and make jokes. We all go to CFC and usually campus outreach stuff too. One of the stupider things we do is IM each other whether we’re just down the hall or sitting in the same room. One guy (one who just had the birthday) and I also do our best to think of creative ways to annoy the third member of our trio (drummer-worship-team guy). Really, it’s a vicious circle of teasing between all of us… 🙂

Anyway, that’s enough about our bizarre adventures for now. Other than packing, doing little homework assignments, and enjoying a daily 1 hr bike in the gym, this week has been pretty uneventful. The shuttle launch occurred, but I unfortunately had to go to bed early so I would be coherent at my physics lab. We also received the housing lottery results. I got an OK number for being a freshman. It’s kind of in the middle I guess. I’m hoping my other buddies get an even better one so we have a good chance at getting into Apollo for next year. We will find out what dorm we get in on March 25 or 26th.

Well, I’m going to finish packing for my Washington DC adventure! Only four more classes and I get a much-needed break (although I’ll probably have to study at least a little during the trip).

My name is Natalie Spencer and I approve this entry.

(Sorry, as you probably know, the presidential race is all over the news…)



February 29

It’s been a bizarre couple of weeks for me with all of the changes. I feel as though I began a whole new semester or something! The weather has been warm and beautiful (except for a couple days when we had a huge storm and cold front come through. Lightning, hail, torrential downpour… you get the picture).

Working at the Daytona 500 was quite an experience! There was a truck race with a fiery crash during the first couple hours. It was nice getting to see a live race without seriously damaging my hearing! 🙂 My friend and I did pretty well until about 5am… then we started getting cranky, delusional, and bored beyond all belief. A huge fog settled in as well, so it got chilly. We ended up canceling our second all-night shift. It was just too much! Most of the 13 hours were spent chatting with random drunk people about all kinds of things. I don’t exactly approve of their lifestyle, but some of the people were very nice and even fed us or gave us free stuff. What a memory! If that wasn’t enough, we were excited by a surprise visit from our friend interning at NASA in Virginia this semester. He came down for the weekend. It was nice to sleep most of Saturday until worship practice before CFC. After the session, our visiting buddy suggested several of us go see Jumper at Ocean Walk. So, we did. I enjoyed just getting out and hanging with everyone. It was a little weird being the only girl, but at Riddle, you get used to it.

We all knew we were in for a letdown when the opening scene showed Hayden Christensen. Personally, I enjoyed the movie and thought his acting was infinitely better than Star Wars, but of course the guys did nothing but complain about it afterwards. I hate it when people do that. After all, it’s their own fault they didn’t research who was in the movie BEFORE they paid the seven bucks! Whatever, it was still a great time!

The next day was ridiculously busy yet again. It all started with navigating through the race traffic to stop at Starbucks before church (2 of us in the group were from Washington and 1 from Oregon, so… duh we need our Starbucks! The poor Ohio and Arizona guys just had to tag along.). Every business on International Speedway has a special parking pass for those who are actually going to the store and not wanting to pay for parking for the race. That day was the 50th anniversary after all, so it was crowded!! Still, we made it to church on time with our tasty breakfasts. If that wasn’t great enough, a bunch of the HS seniors and college kids went to Applebees. I really enjoyed getting to know other people my age from Sovereign Grace. Right after that was a Daytona party at a church member’s house. On the way after stopping at Wal-Mart for snacks, we saw the Thunderbirds at a stoplight. It was amazing!! We also caught a glimpse that morning from school. After a great day of novelty and fun, we closed with a visit to my favorite ice cream place, Ritter’s. Phew!! What a busy weekend!

After that, things got a little more normal as I settled into my new routine. I played tennis a couple of times with my talented friends. It was only my 2nd and 3rd time, but I improved a ton. Now I only sock one over the net every once in awhile. 🙂 I always treated the racket like I was playing badminton which I learned is a big mistake!

Bonding with people in Doolittle has also been a wonderful experience. My two friends (girls) from CFC who are just a floor up have come to visit a couple times. We even had a movie night watching Ever After. Fun times! I also enjoy hanging out with two guys on my floor. One is CFC’s worship team leader and the guy who takes us all to Sovereign Grace on Sundays and the other I met through him (Sorry for the terrible grammar, but I’m trying to not give people’s names unless I ask them permission! :)). It’s taking me awhile to figure out all of their inside jokes, but I’ll catch up eventually.

Ok, so I lied about normality I guess… the week continued to be nuts! Alex and I went to see Spamalot in Jacksonville. We had great seats and the whole thing was AMAZING! We even were able to find some good deals while shopping beforehand. I got a $10 dress and then after the play, got Spamalot shirt and shorts. As we walked out of the theater, we saw the beautiful lunar eclipse. I took a picture, but my zoom isn’t exactly the best for space objects… 🙂

From that day on, it was mostly all about studying and reviewing notes. I didn’t work at SPRL the last two weeks either because I got a bad cold. Napping in my room was all I wanted to do. Thankfully, by the end of the first week, I was feeling great and able to go to CFC. We stopped by a coffee shop. The live singing was fun and we laughed the night away with drinks and snacks. It was “Volcano” something or other. I dunno.

After a wonderful Sovereign Grace sermon, we all rocked Chili’s! I couldn’t decide what I wanted to save my life- it was so weird!! My favorite moment came when our waitress asked if we wanted separate checks. One of the guys said, “Well, we’re together,” pointing to another guy. Of course we all laughed at the completely untrue, joking implication you could pull out of that. Then she said, “OH… ok, and the rest of you are SINGLE, right?” The three of us left laughed and said “Yes, but did you have to remind us??” Funny times…

Let’s see… this is getting pretty long, but I’ve been doing a lot of exciting things, so sorry! My last comments would have to be that I started up exercising again which has been perfect now that I’m close to the sparkling new Fitness Center. Also, after my BIG CALC 2 TEST that I’ve been studying for 3 weeks for is done, I’m off to a Third Day concert in Orlando at the House of Blues. I’ll save the details of this weekend for the next journal entry…

Man, spring break and Washington DC with my mommy is SO close!! I can’t wait!

March is-a-comin’!

Love, Nat



February 15

Well, things have picked up again! School, clubs, fun times, holidays… the list goes on!

CFC has been very encouraging and a great time of fellowship and fun! The first Saturday, we went bowling after a great lesson on using our gifts wisely and trusting in Christ completely. Worship team has also picked up. It’s nice to have vocals instead of trying to sing along with iTunes. I’ve been practicing my harmony and such- good times! The second Saturday, we went to Ritter’s for iced cream after an enlightening message on relationships and purity in honor of Valentine’s Day. I don’t know what was in that custard, but everyone was very goofy. I couldn’t stop laughing over the stupidest things!!

Speaking of eating out, during one of the past weeks, I ate at a restaurant 4 days in a row. The first was the Chinese Buffet after picking up my Daytona 500 schedule. Next, some friends and I went to My Cousin Vinny’s (I had a delicious manicotti!!) after playing tennis (which was my second time ever and I improved a lot). Day three was the CFC Ritter’s trip and day four was going to the Chinese Buffet again after church at Sovereign Grace. It was fun, but I’m glad to get a break from spending money left and right. Don’t worry, I’m still doing great with my budget! 😉

One of the more exciting events of the last two weeks was visiting Gulfstream in Savannah Georgia. If I remember right, it’s like 40-something million dollars for one of their jets. They were gorgeous!! I wouldn’t mind working in the research and design department. If I end up living by one of their plants, I just might give it a try! The funny thing was that I was the only EP honors student to go- everyone else was AE. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but we do have a group one I’ll try to put up.

I also reached a milestone by finishing the first rounds of tests. I generally wasn’t pleased with the scores, but I’ve made some changes with how I study and how much that will hopefully fix the problem. The only class I legitimately feel will be a constant struggle is Calculus 2. I’ve heard it’s the toughest of Calcs, so I’m gonna stick with it! Also, if you turn in all your homework in that class, you can drop the lowest test score! Hooray!

Recently, I found out about Campus Outreach and have gotten more involved. In addition to the Bible studies every two weeks, I also was able to help with their (and Task Force One’s) Super Bowl party. Following that, we had a session about Tom Brady and the reason why he feels like life must be something more even though he has everything material you can get in this life.

I’ve had fun filling out birthday cards and finding gifts since three friends had their birthdays.

SPRL is in transition mode yet again. We’re trying to hire some more people to continue data analysis while us “more experienced” people are learning the ropes of running the lab. I finally met Dr. Azeem and he encouraged me to continue getting good grades. Who knows? If I do well, I might actually go (in his words) to “a cold place”. 🙂 One can hope, right? One of the sites that I’m manager of, Sondestromfjord, has bad data thanks to a radar that keeps interfering. I’m supposed to graph it so Dr. Azeem can tell them to stop, basically.

Valentine’s Day was practically life-changing. I helped Society of Women Engineers sell roses in the morning. I actually did quite well arranging and wrapping them despite just learning that morning. I was having fun matching colors and adding “fernage” (as I like to say) and Baby’s breath. Valentine’s Day also marked the point when I was able to get my own room. I moved into Doolittle first west after talking to the wonderful housing head. She gave me the key and from when I began packing in Wood at 4pm, I was able to finish set-up, rearranging furniture, and decorating by 11pm. Not bad for a complete move! My sweet suitemates and Alex’s boyfriend helped me. We were a hilarious group of suitcase and duffel bag! It only took two trips. I’m so pleased with the open space and being closer to everything. I do have to pay 1.5 housing rate, but it’s worth it! I will definitely miss being able to walk a maximum of 20 feet to see all my Wood friends, but we still have many classes together and there is a such thing as a cell phone!

As you probably know, the Daytona 500 is upon us. It’s going to be a long two nights of helping CFC raise money, but at least I have my own room to get a good ?? day’s ?? sleep! 🙂 I’m not sure how I’m going to transfer back to sleeping at night… I’ll see. Should be very exciting and hopefully not too cold. I’m hoping to get a friend of my dad’s a bandana of his favorite racers. When I was at K-mart they had a ton of stuff, so maybe it all goes on sale when the crazy crowds leave! I’m walking over for my first shift at six tonight!! At least we have Monday off and I’m going to the beach with some CFC friends. Church on Sunday will be interesting, too… hope I can stay focused and alert!

Until next time,

From the home of the Daytona 500,

And now Doolittle,

Natalie Ann



February 3

Well, the weeks of no homework and continual Starbucks runs have come to an abrupt end. No more sleeping in all the time, going to bed whenever, and watching movies at any point. Probably a good thing to be back on a schedule, though. I need to be disciplined enough, especially for the first round of tests. Every day, I try to read my Bible and pray, eat right, and exercise. Also included is SPRL work as well as homework and studying, not to mention club meetings and such. School is back in full swing and I’m slowly relaxing into the demanding timeline.

A big topic of conversation on campus, especially for the freshman, has been housing for next year. The whole process starts really early, so it’s just bizarre to be trying to figure out what you want to promise to do for the next year already. All kinds of things can change before then! For now, I’m looking at rooming with three girls from Christian Fellowship Club. They’re in Meteorology and ATC majors, so I never get to see them except for a few hours on Saturdays. Hopefully, all my suitemates from this year and I will get great rooms in Apollo so we can still be close buddies too. When we find out our lottery numbers on March 11th, I’ll be sure to let you all know the results. All we need is one of us four to get a lower number, even just low enough to secure the last Apollo room. If that doesn’t work… well, we don’t have a back-up plan yet, but there’s plenty of time! 🙂

As for my suitemates and I this semester, we have great plans for decorating our part of the floor. The theme is going to be Hollywood. Now if we only have enough time to put up the supplies and decorations we bought!! I’ll put up pictures if we ever get around to it!

Two weekends ago, Alex’s dad came down for a few days. The first night he took Spree, Alex, my roommate, and I out to a really good Thai restaurant. Saturday night we went to Cancun Lagoon (it’s a very tasty Mexican restaurant right by school). Spree and I thought it was a seafood restaurant, but we were a little off! As we finished the meal, fireworks went off at the racetrack. The Rolex 24 race was loud and exciting in the distance.

Last Tuesday, I really enjoyed the Honors Distinguished Speaker Series guy, Edward Tenner. He had some great points and examples about how our determination to make everything safe can have unintended consequences. I’m tempted to go out and buy his book. As an engineer, I have to learn to do my best to foresee the outcome of my choices and designs.

Last Friday we had our first Computing for Engineers test. From now on I’ll call it programming or MATLAB class. Anyway, it was pretty nice. I’m not gonna be overconfident or anything, so I’m desperately hoping it’s a high A. I’ve always enjoyed going to that class. Computers just make sense to me. Maybe I should’ve been a computer engineer instead… 🙂

That same night, I had my first outing with the Society of Women Engineers, SWE. We went ice-skating of all things. I have to admit that it’s just awesome to be able to claim such a thing in Florida!! Weird. At the rink there was a disgusting amount of junior high kids all screaming and flirting like mad. It felt nice to glide along the cool surface. After, I decided to stay for the ice hockey game against FIT. It was amazing! We won 12-0. I got some great video of a goal or two, the crowd, and the band. One is the entire last six minutes of the game. I have to say I wasn’t so fond of the cheers (rather JEERS) going out, so I was pretty quiet until we made goals. It was an exciting night!

This weekend I have two tests to study for, one in calculus, the other in physics, as well as two papers to write for Honors. One is a big ten-pager about a scientist in our Atomic Bomb book and the other one-pager is on our feelings about the making of religious states (The book talks often of the Jewish people.) I managed to finish my formal lab report from last Tuesday and the smaller math and physics assignments. It was a busy week with a busy weekend finishing it off!

But, the good news is I have lots of fun stuff too. CFC is meeting then going out for dinner and bowling. On Sunday, I’m helping Campus Outreach and TFO with the Super Bowl party on campus.

On the spring break front, my mom had some great news for me! We were able to get a Wyndham hotel for all six or seven nights and it’s right in Alexandria. It’s so perfect because its location is a half block from the metro station. Mom and I aren’t  too   terribly confident about driving around D.C. and finding parking, so it’s a beautiful situation. I bet the hotel is ridiculously nice, too. What a fun break that will be! Now, we get to daydream about all the places we can visit!

Lately  I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about Sundays because Riverbend changed its “second service” classes to other times during the week. The college ministry meets Sunday nights but my ride can’t make it to that. Last Sunday, I had a great time visiting Sovereign Grace (I had promised a friend of mine last semester I’d go at some point. Ironically, he’s the one with a NASA internship in Virginia now…) before going to visit Campus Outreach at Christ Community for a college luncheon. If you’re confused, don’t worry, I am too! 🙂 I will certainly be in prayer about finding the right fellowship and also having solid Biblical teaching at least once a week. I have to admit it was very fun going to church with CFC friends. I’ve been able to hang with them a lot more this semester already.

SPRL has been going along just fine. My latest project involves recording the dates and times when a radar signal interferes with our MI data. I had a great time fixing up the program to allow me to start and stop the cycling through the graphs. Another SPRL guy has no idea why it works, but we’re not complaining! One day, Dr. Azeem brought in his attire for visiting the South Pole and left it for us to play with. Naturally, we college students couldn’t resist. I have some pretty funny pictures I put up of myself and Mike and Chris from that day. Enjoy!

Well, like I said, I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me! I bet by the next journal entry things will be pretty normal again (Wishful thinking?). At least I’ll have a better hang of things and will have completed several tests and papers. I’m also going with the Honors Student Association to Gulfstream in Savannah, GA on Tuesday. Alex is coming, too, and we both have a physics test to study for, so it’ll be a nice getaway and informative trip too. I really enjoyed going to Piper last semester and I’m sure this will be no different.

Until next time,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Natalie Ann



January 21

Well, it’s been an amazingly long two weeks of the sparkling new spring semester. I’m finally getting settled in, but have been doing so many things, I’m glad my classes haven’t been too demanding. Not one of my classes leaves my jaw hanging wide open when I don’t understand a word the teacher is saying. (That was Chemistry last semester by the way.) Physics and Calc 2 are going at a great rate, enough to keep me busy, but not enough to overwhelm. I have a programming class that I love! I’m so thankful that I took a year of that in high school; not only did that knowledge help me get a job in SPRL, but it also allows me to just learn the new language in my class instead of hearing things like float and loop for the first time. Honors will be more difficult that last semester because our teacher is covering the subject of physics history and things like the atomic bomb. I don’t have much experience calculating decay or half-life, so I’m always hastily taking notes. We’re having a “mega-quiz” this Friday. Finally, I can’t wait to get started on the physics labs. Our first one was just a painful (especially because I hadn’t eaten) 3-hour introduction.

SPRL is going well. I’ve had a hard time getting enough hours in because I’m doing so many other things and even want to join the Society of Women Engineers this semester. My fellow freshman worker and I were suddenly promoted thanks to seniors and other lead people leaving this summer. I will be in charge of the two VERY northern Canada sites. We’re having training meetings every Monday of the semester to make sure we all will be able to run SPRL on our own next year.

I also have several fun things planned this semester and several built-in. For example, Alex (my suitemate who I always mention) is in three of my classes (honors, calc 2, programming) whereas we had none together last semester. Spree (my other suitemate who writes a journal as well) is in two (calc 2, programming) with us. And another good friend from Christian Fellowship Club is in Calc 2 and is my lab partner. She’s meteorology, so I never thought we would be in class together- what a pleasant surprise! It seems that I know at least 60% of the people in each class. What fun! I don’t have to feel alone walking between classes all the time. Plus, many of my friends and I stop for lunch in-between or go check the mail. Good times!

Christian Fellowship Club is in full swing again, too. We had a great lesson and discussion on evangelism for our first meeting and went out to pizza and buffalo wings. They had a $32 pizza with 64 slices. It was AMAZING! They had to put it on another table so it would fit. One of my pilot friends is also very talented on guitar and will be leading worship for CFC. Another girl and myself will also be helping out. We had our first practice on Thursday. Hopefully we’ll eventually get some more guitars and a piano player. We lost our two musicians from last semester to great NASA internships. I spent 2 hours earlier on Thursday with two CFC guys looking for Kelly Services so we could be hired to work at the Daytona 500. We drove by it several times, and were so lost, we called everyone we could think of. But, after finally finding the place, all three of us were hired. I get to work two 7 pm – 8 am shifts in a row watching the gate in February. Phew! Should be exciting, but very long! At least we also have Monday off that same weekend thanks to President’s Day. The final event I’ll mention for CFC is that I’m going to the Winter Jam concert at UCF with several people tonight (I’m writing this on the 19th). BarlowGirl, Skillet, MercyMe, NewSong, and Mandisa. I’ve seen the first three in a big concert festival back home, so this should be fun!

Last night was my roommate’s birthday celebration. I had fun gifts on her bed in the morning when she came back from Navy PT. Then, eight of us from the floor “kidnapped” her and took her to Downtown Disney to wander around. We also went to Fuddrucker’s for a late-night dinner. If you look at the pictures on my virb.com site, you’ll be able to see some of the fun stuff we did. Many people on Wood 5 chipped in to get her our group present- Super Mario Galaxy and another remote for her Wii. We’ve all been enjoying bowling and making our own Wii characters, so hopefully we don’t try to take over all the games now! 😉

Another thing that’s been keeping me busy/entertained has been playing cards with people on the floor as well as my Christmas gift from my parents- Blockbuster Online subscription for the whole semester. Alex and I have been fervently watching BBC’s new Robin Hood TV show. They’ve only done two seasons, so we watched the first with the DVDs and found a great youtube site for watching season two. Hooray Robin!

In closing, I’ll just briefly mention that I’ve had a ton of fun these past two weeks. We’ve gone to all kinds of stores like World Market, Publix, Barnes & Noble, Target, Michael’s… and even eaten at Outback Steakhouse. I’ve also gotten to do my best to help some floormates going through hard times as well as learning to say “No” when I need some “me” time. God has been so good to sustain me and I know I’ll have a great spring semester!

Until next time…

I can’t believe it’s almost February! (and that means Spamalot in Jacksonville with Alex & Daytona 500)

*Natalie Ann*

Pretty please e-mail me with any questions you have about anything (involving my experience or the school or engineering or whatever!). I’ve never gotten a single one!



January 1

I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe I’ve been home for 3 weeks and I only have 1 left. Being a freshman, I seriously do not want to go back to college yet. I’ve made some friends, but there’s obviously a huge difference between knowing someone for a couple months verses several years.

I do have much to look forward to during this next semester, though, so I can’t be completely devastated. 🙂 I have only 14 credits, go back to warm weather, finish every day at the latest at 2 pm, get to continue work in the Space Physics Research Lab, and am going to become a physics expert.

Not so sure about the last one, but I will at least have a great spring break with my mom and will perhaps experience a semester flying by. I assume the first and last semesters of college are the longest… we’ll see won’t we?

And, best of all, it means I’m 4 months closer to a glorious 3 month summer to be with friends, go on adventures, work as an intern (hopefully), and finishing getting my pilot’s license. Regardless, I need to learn to enjoy the here and now of life. God is gracious to give me breath each and every second and if I’m always wistfully daydreaming about what’s coming, I’ll miss what’s here. That truth has become all too evident during this Christmas break. It’s not very fun to be hangin’ with friends only to think about how soon it will be over and that I won’t see them for FOUR MORE months. Although, that did help me to realize I definitely need to just pick up my cell phone and give people a call!! My shyness overcomes my loneliness too often…

In summary, I’ve had a wonderful birthday and Christmas, 4 days of working at Red Robin, time with the family, time with friends, Starbucks trips, restaurant exploration, movie-going, shopping, and New Year’s Eve games.

I am so thankful that we get breaks like these. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way the tree glistened with extra sparkle this December. Or the smiles on my loved ones faces each time we laughed. My whole life college has always looked so magical and wondrous. I never realized how much would change, how I would change. I’m so terrified and yet thrilled. I will certainly be praying for a deeper love for those around me at school. Right now, my heart is about to get broken again as I’m torn away from my beloved home and those who make it home. It’s just one of those transition parts of life, what can I say? 🙂

Happy 2008 from a reflecting freshman, Natalie Ann P.S. I’m kinda bummed because I never took any pictures with my friends this break. Crazy, huh? I still have time… I’ll keep my camera in my purse from now on… 🙂