Back to Campus!

Summer at Embry-Riddle is always a little bit of a different atmosphere than normal because of the large decrease in the number of students on campus, but I have just moved back to campus and this summer is even a little more different than usual with COVID-19 this year. Social distancing is a must and campus is at a lower density than it normally is in the summer.

My New Daily Look On-Campus

I have moved into New Residence Hall Phase 1, the same hall I was in my freshman year. This is exactly as I remember it with the exception that it is fairly quiet. I have moved back in as a resident advisor and have a few flight students on my floor that I am eager to meet through virtual contact as per new regulations for the school to encourage social distancing.

Even though the atmosphere is a little different than normal, it is nice to see some familiar faces such as other fellow RAs and Supervisors. As far as staying busy, I have just started my research project for the summer where I am exploring the environmental impact that the space industry has on the atmosphere. We had our orientation for the summer research program last Wednesday over zoom where we got to meet other people partaking in the research program this summer. I have begun my background research and the first steps of finding data and numbers to support my conclusions. This and RA work has been a majority of the way I spend my time and soon summer C classes will begin and fill my time a little better! I am looking forward to a calm summer of studies with sunshine at the University and maybe even making my way to the beach to catch a few waves.


Danielle Rosales came to Embry-Riddle prepared to make her dreams come true – and she certainly did! Her current position with Space Tango, a micro gravity research and manufacturing company, allows her to share her passion for space as a Marketing and Sales Associate.

Left to right: Space Tango TangoLab Payload Manager, Gentry Barnett, NASA Astronaut Charlie Carmada (STS-114), Danielle, ERAU Alumna and Higher Orbits CEO Michelle Lucas

We recently asked Danielle to share her experiences at Embry-Riddle, as well as advice for prospective students. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. When and how did you find yourself interested in space? It all began with a visit to the NASA Goddard Visitor Center. My mom, born and raised in the Caribbean, thought it would be a great trip for my brothers and me, as well as herself. She personally grew up without access to anything space-related. Now living 10 minutes away from this center, Mom wanted to take advantage of every museum within our reach. I think I was maybe 6 or 7 at the time, but from the moment I walked into the center and through the Rocket Garden, I was absolutely amazed. It was then that I learned that the sky is not the limit. I’ve been in love with space since then.
  2. How did you land your job at Space Tango? The Communication and Humanities Department hosted an alumni panel for current students to learn about the flexibility of a Communication degree. I made it a mission to personally connect with panel participant Michelle Lucas, founder and President of Higher Orbits. After a few emails, she offered me a position on her advisory board. It was from there that we kept in contact. A little less than a year later, Michelle informed my advisor, Professor Masters of an internship opportunity in Lexington, Kentucky with a “little start-up.” Finding communication internship opportunities in aerospace was a challenge, so I didn’t hesitate to accept it. 
  3. What about Space Tango made the job a good fit for you? Space Tango is a ‘good’ fit because I get to work in the space industry, but it’s also a perfect fit because of its mission. Space Tango aims to utilize space for applications here on Earth. All of the work they do, that I do, is focused on using space research to propel us forward while improving life on Earth.
  4. Why did you choose to attend ERAU? I was living in Japan at the time and didn’t have the opportunity to tour colleges like most students so I relied completely on reviews and the website. Embry-Riddle’s alumni base is what really sealed the deal for me.
  5. Favorite campus memory? My favorite memories are with my CSA (Caribbean Students’ Association) family. I served as the president for a year, but beyond the leadership opportunity, I connected with people that believed in one another and our dreams.
  6. People on campus who supported you? Connections with alumni? Bear with me here because it’s going to feel like a shout-out, but it’s well deserved. I worked for the Dean of Students and I’m still in touch with them. Dean Kollar, Dean Hall, Dean Maddox, Dean Bell, Ms. Kristy, and Ms. Susan –  yes all of them –  kept me on top of my game at Embry-Riddle. They encouraged me to embrace challenges and to find a reason to smile even during the hardest of times. Numerous professors from the Communication Department truly shaped me into the confident young woman that I am today. They were not only welcoming, but they were direct. They offered guidance and firm criticism that allowed me to advance my skills beyond the coursework. I also have to recognize Dr. Nancy Lawrence and Mr. Hunt, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. The two of them are always the first ones to give back to the community; a trait I’m happy to say I’ve adopted myself. 
  7. Cool things you did at ERAU that probably wouldn’t have at other schools? I don’t know what other schools have had NASA’s SOFIA visit their campus but I know that if I didn’t go to Embry-Riddle I may never have seen it for myself!
  8. Advice to current or prospective ERAU students? Don’t be afraid of new interests and opportunities that may come your way, and for the ones you do embrace – give them your all! You never know where it’s going to take you. Whether it’s a class project that turns into research that you can present at a conference or leading a student organization that encourages you to start a non-profit, you will only grow based on the experiences you get lost in.
Students, Faculty and Staff, take a tour of the modified 747 SOFIA – Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, at Daytona International Speedway, October 4, 2017. (Embry-Riddle/David Massey)

And she’s only just begun! Danielle earned a master’s degree this spring and is continuing to follow her own advice: Have fun! Be safe! Learn something!

Staying Busy & SGA

Happy May everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Despite mostly having warm and sunny weather, this week we are experiencing Tropical Storm Arthur which means windy, rainy, and cold temperatures… therefore I will not be running outside.

I’ve been spending most of my time post-Spring semester, before summer classes begin, by enjoying this break throughout the month of May with lots of rest and a slower pace of living than I’m used to during the school year. My fitness favorites (rain or shine) have been via Youtube’s Yoga With Adriene and Popsugar Fitness channels, as well as Demi Bagby’s ab workouts and high intensity interval training (HIIT) videos. I have made it a point to do Popsugar Fitness’s 4 min arms video everyday thus far in May and I definitely think its working.

In other news I’ve been missing frequent visits to coffee shops and good vibe study spots, but I’ve managed to make do with creating a chill atmosphere at home with a combination of diffusing essential oils, bird watching (see below) and reading. I have been staying busy by getting outside when I can, but enjoying nature from inside when I’m unable to go outside too. My latests reading endeavors have been the Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran and House to House: An Epic Memoir of War by David Bellavia, quite a contrast but I do feel the balance of the two describe my interests well. 

New May adventures include an addition of a bird feeder where I can make coffee while observing visitors having breakfast.
Planted some herbs! Pictured here are lavender, sweet basil, thyme, and spearmint in the Herb planter bag (with a drainage hole for watering in case anyone was wondering)!

Additionally around the time of final exams I applied for a position on the Student Government Association (SGA). After an interview process, I am officially now an Associate Justice on the Student Court with the job of Clerk, meaning I’m responsible for communication to students regarding hearings and ticket appeal cases. I am very excited and grateful to hold this position and to have an additional platform be able to continue to serve the student body and the positive atmosphere at ERAU!

I have also hopped on the quarantine baking trend! I cheffed it up with some dark chocolate peanut butter brownies and a veggie quiche the other day!

Veggie Quiche!

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Soaring into Summer Plans

The wacky semester of curve balls is finally over, but that still does not mean quarantine and online classes are over. For me, I have an online class this summer as well as an in-person class in summer B. So, I will still soon be busy with the continuing challenges of going to college during the quarantine. I will soon be partaking in online math that hopefully will go smoother by having the opportunity to start and finish the class online, and now that I have already done half a semester of online classes this should be a piece of cake right? We shall see, but I was extremely appreciative of all the professors I had this past semester. And have no doubt my professor this summer will be just as great.

Meanwhile, the calming feeling of having finished the spring semester has allowed me to relax and take care of myself a little. I do have to admit I am a bit bored without my school work, so my dog may not be as appreciative of it as I have been constantly bugging her with random photo-shoots and bugging her with all of my extra built-up energy (I think she is ready for me to have a life outside of the house again).

My dog wandering why I have so much time on my hands
The one picture I took that didn’t annoy her

Soon, I will be busy once again as I am conducting research through the Office of Undergraduate research’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) this summer. I will be researching the space industry’s impact on air pollution and analysis statistics to see how impactful this industry is on our Earth’s environment. I am very excited about this opportunity to some research I am extremely passionate about and get real research experience. I am excited to see what I discover and cannot wait to begin. Until then, I will be making sure to take of myself and not annoy my dog too much. Also, I will be moving back into the dorms as an RA as Embry-Riddle begins phase one of the crawl, walk, run plan to get our school ready for the fall semester in these times. I am excited to go back and be able to stay focused on my studies and research and assist any studies doing the same.

My dog after I put a T-shirt on her

Transitions & Post-Semester Plans

Happy May everyone! Back again blogging from Virginia Beach, a bit of a transition from Daytona Beach. While the beaches are still closed as Virginia is on a stay at home order until June 10, the beach is currently open for exercising, fishing, and surfing, so keep checking back as I will provide updates on my latest adventures. Today is 80 degrees and sunny, I went for a 4.5 mile walk on the boardwalk when I woke up, followed by ten minutes of core exercises, 20 minutes of yoga, a 1.5 mile run, and a divine post run smoothie (truly smoothies taste better after a run, is there a science behind that? Aerospace Engineering has yet to lead me to that answer). I also had the privilege to lay in the sun today in the backyard for about an hour which was SO nice. 

The rest of my day I plan to do some more exercises and yoga, ride bikes to the market to hopefully scavenge some fresh fruits and veggies (the grocery store has been looking BARE, but I prefer local fresh produce anyway), and I will be watching either A Bug’s Life or Monsters, Inc. I haven’t decided yet. Tomorrow I have a Zoom Interview for a Student Government Association position on the Student Court as the Associate Justice, and a virtual Orientation Team meeting over Zoom to discuss new online Orientation preparation and training to best assist the incoming class of 2024’s transition to college life, which is very exciting.

I concluded the last week and the Spring 2020 semester with a Jet Propulsion exam, and Solid Mechanics final exam on the last day of finals week lasting until 9pm. I recently started my summer endeavors by having an interview over Zoom for my Arabic Language Oral Proficiency Placement Level and by submitting an essay in Arabic. Additionally, I transitioned from Northern VA staying with my sister, to Southern VA, and my current May plans include a lot of working out, social distancing, sleeping, and brushing up on some old material (grammar rules, vocabulary, and spelling will definitely be on the list of things I go over) before my summer Arabic classes begin.

A perk of being at my mom’s house is that she loves gardening and being outside when the weather is nice.

Some new plant babies!

My summer study abroad plans have been transformed into summer study domestic via online class plans, but I will still be participating in the Project Global Officer program (Project GO), available for all branches of ROTC students to apply to in order to spend a summer domestically or internationally learning a foreign language critical to national security needs as a professional development opportunity to help you better support the needs of the Department of Defense upon graduating college and commissioning.

More greenery that I will be co-habitating with for the duration of the summer.

Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

Finals & Staying Connected With Friends

Happy almost May everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, I have one more final exam to take from the comfort of my bedroom, and I’m SO excited for the semester to be finished.

Some small updates: I’ve recently discovered the Popsugar Fitness Youtube channel which is filled with great workouts ranging from a few minutes to over an hour and everywhere in between that are perfect to do while social distancing. You think the 4 min arms won’t get you, but let me tell you WHEW, it’s gold. Four minutes is a perfect way to get a small break from studying without losing your train of thought about a complicated Jet Propulsion problem.

The aftermath of my 4 hour Jet Propulsion Final Exam featuring iced coffee with dark chocolate oat milk

I have been turning to music a lot lately to deal with stress, calm down, and feel connected with my friends from far away. Spotify+Hulu+Showtime is only $5 a month for college students. On Spotify there is an option to make a Collaborative Playlist which is essentially an outlet for you to create something with your friends from far away, where all editors have the option to add/remove songs at their leisure.

My best friend and I always say that our lives parallel because we seem to feel the same emotions at the same times and despite moving away to different states for college, we go through a lot of similar experiences and feel the same ways. Different mood Collaborative Playlists are so helpful in situations where you miss the people you are close to, especially when you would be sharing the same songs or listening to them in person together if you had the chance. This is seriously an underrated way of connecting while social distancing that I highly recommend.

My most recent entertainment recommendations include: Insecure, a hilarious show with a great music soundtrack on HBO-Go, and Outer Banks, a suspenseful and dramatic show on Netflix that gives me nostalgia for living close to the water growing up. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video is also absolutely hilarious and based in the 1950s so the costumes, language, music, and overall culture are all extremely interesting.

In addition to studying and binge watching shows on my laptop, I have been getting in my daily yoga, workouts, and walks with my sister. Longer walks on the sunnier warmer days or weekends of course, we went on a 5 mile hike the other day and it was beautiful. Gaining some perspective in the midst of the global pandemic we are all facing is truly (and literally) a breath of fresh air.

Hiking with my sister!

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Because They Care: Alumni Causes

The students, faculty and alumni of ERAU share a passion for everything aviation, aerospace and STEM. Some have turned their passion to support of worthwhile causes. Whether in an effort to engage more females in fields that are traditionally male-dominated, to encourage all young people who share this passion to prepare for success, or raising money to help support education, our alumni are working hard to improve the industry and the world.

Michelle Lucas attended the Daytona Beach and earned a bachelor’s in communication. She spent ten years working for NASA, primarily in International Space Station (ISS) Flight Control Operations Planning and as an Astronaut Instructor in the Daily Operations Group. Now she heads up the non-profit organization she founded, Higher Orbits. Their mission is “to excite students of all ages about STEM/STEAM and working to fulfill their dreams and ambitions while also building teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.” The “Go For Launch” program brings speakers and hands-on projects to classrooms to expose students to the excitement and opportunities spaceflight offers. Culminating in a capstone project, students have a chance to have their experiments selected for a trip to space! The website features past winners, a blog and a shop with fun space-themed goodies.

Michelle Lucas, class of ’00, in front of the College of Arts & Sciences, Daytona Beach campus

She earned the university’s Eagle Entrepreneur Alumni Award in 2019.

Alumnus Tim Bailey is the Executive Director of the annual Yuri’s Night celebration. According to the Yuri’s Night website, the mission is: to use the excitement and inspiration of space as a catalyst for educating and developing the next generation of explorers. We fulfill this mission through a commitment to:

  • empowering leaders: in making a difference, pursuing their dreams, and inspiring others to do the same.
  • building communities: working shoulder to shoulder on visionary projects, overcoming barriers and finding common ground.
  • bridging cultures: be they geographic, social or technical, we are all learning to speak each other’s languages.
  • encouraging science literacy: bringing people hands-on experiences and passionate storytelling to explore their physical world and nurture their love of learning.
  • promoting a sustainable and peaceful future: sharing “the Overview Effect”with all people, inspiring them to take ownership of our home planet and the future of humanity.

Yuri’s Night, named for Yuri Gagarin, the first human to venture into space in 1961, is celebrated at parties and events around the world each year, including at Kennedy Space Center. Tim’s passion for space is reflected in the many jobs he holds in addition to his role in Yuri’s night, including Flight Director at Zero-G Corporation where he helps passengers manage the challenges of weightlessness. Check out their website below – they do pretty cool stuff!

There are many ways the alumni of ERAU give back, through mentorship, co-ops and internships for students and, of course scholarship. See a sampling of what they’re up to here, it’s a pretty impressive bunch!

Thanks, ERAU!

The Finals Clean-up

Everyone has been surviving and hopefully finding some joy in their lives during the quarantine. We have all come so far this semester. I would be lying if I said the transition to online classes was easy or having to time manage moving off campus with school work was a fun time, but through all of these difficult endeavors, we have finally approached the last day of classes.
The day where we take a step back for a couple of hours before we start the study grind and all of our finals. The last time we get to spend time with the people at school before we go our separate ways for the summer. Although this year is a little bit different this time of the semester has reminded me to reach out to friends I have not seen or heard from in a while. Whether they are back in their hometowns or staying close to the school, the quarantine has made it impossible to see everyone. I have enjoyed catching up and reconnecting with them via skype and Houseparty and Snapchat and all the other wonderful social media allowing us to survive through the quarantine.

Got bored so Rory got a haircut

It has given me time to look back at the past year of school on good memories that have been made. From Halloween parties where I am dressed as taco bell hot sauce to beach trips to just last week where I impulsively cut my friend’s hair. There are a lot of memories I am thankful for and cannot wait to make more next fall.

Flash back to the Halloween party we went to this past year

Now it is time for me to wish everyone luck on their finals. We are all so close to being done with the semester and we all have so much to be thankful for. The student and staff of Embry-Riddle have been so helpful throughout this entire crazy situation and I would not want to be surrounded by anyone else right now. To all those graduating, congratulations, you will be missed but I am excited to see the things you accomplish. And for everyone I will see in the summer or the fall, stay safe this summer and make smart decisions. I’ll see you all in the fall. Go crush your finals!

#Adrenaline Rush

Embry-Riddle graduates include astronauts, US Air Force Thunderbirds, experimental test pilots, and aerobatic performers. It’s clear ERAU alumni are as fearless as they are focused. And they like to play as hard as they work!

Alain Aguayo’s passion for aviation is clear.

As a flight instructor at the Daytona Beach campus, he earned high scores at Rate My Professors dot com, where his students cite his thorough approach to training – tough but clear, caring and respected, 10/10 would take again!

He came to ERAU in 2006 and earned two degrees – in aeronautical science (flight) and in aerospace and occupational safety. A combination that serves him well as an aerobatic performance pilot. He won his first competition at the US National Aerobatic Championships 2017.

He visited the WIKD-FM radio station last year to share his experiences, and you can listen to the podcast here. He talks about his aircraft, the experimental Giles 202, with the alumni association on campus in this Facebook interview. He discusses Eagle Sport Aviation, the group that got him started, safety procedures and special considerations involved in aerobatic flying.

But you’ll get the full adrenaline rush on his YouTube channel where you can see him in action over the beaches of Florida. Check it out here.

Curt Bartholomew feeds his need for adventure in competitive swooping. If you’re not familiar, it starts out like this:

And then turns into something much more, check out the video here:

His love of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes began on campus with the Sky Diving Club while he was studying Aeronautics at ERAU’s Daytona Beach campus. He’s worked as a videographer for Skydive DeLand and now owns his own company, Team Alter Ego Fastrax where he’s an instructor helping others to master the art of swooping  as well as canopy piloting, freeflying, BASE jumping, coaching,  ground launching, and more. You can see more of Curt’s swooping on YouTube – including this breathtaking video that will get your adrenaline pumping! For Curt, like many aviators, the passion for jumping out pf aircraft runs in the family, his wife Jeannie is also an accomplished swooper and instructor for the company and boasts a long list of accolades.   

Quarantine Blog

Greetings from my room in Seoul, South Korea. I have been isolated in my quarantined house as the government requires all individuals coming into Korea to be tested and quarantined for 14 days in light of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world. It works out perfectly as I prepare for my final exams coming up near the end of April so I have been studying and catching up on my readings.

The past two weeks have definitely been an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Starting from my first flight out of Daytona Beach, it had a whopping total of 9 passengers on board and my second flight to Detroit had every middle seat empty. The check-in gate for my trans-pacific flight, we had gate agents conducting temperature checks before boarding. The majority of passengers had masks and gloves on and many of them had cautious looks on their faces as they carefully boarded the airplane.

McNamara Terminal in Detroit Airport
My flight from Detroit to Seoul Inchon on this A350-900

Upon landing in Inchon International Airport, I noticed the taxiways had multiple planes parked and stored along with dozens of gates closed for parked aircraft. The customs and security was more intense with members of the Korean army and their version of CDC dressed in full body hazmat suits. We had to wait in line to fill out a number of documents and answer questions from those agents.

Planes are parked everywhere

Day 2 upon my arrival, I was tested negative for the COVID-19 and my 14-days began. I couldn’t hug my family or go outside of my place and it can be very tempting especially when the spring weather outside is so pleasant. However, the government here is trying their very best to contain the second wave of COVID-19 and everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing and stay home.

I had to sit at a separate table while we had dinner at the airport (Better safe than sorry)

As an aspiring airline pilot, it hurts to see how heavily the global airline industry is hurting from the impact of COVID-19. After going through a firsthand experience of seeing empty seats on my flights and the deserted terminal buildings, it is difficult to see the daily news of more airlines cancelling their operations and losing money and pilots.

Many people in small, local businesses and medical / first responders are struggling more than ever. I can only imagine what some people are going through during these rough times. I hope everyone can stay safe and healthy. However, I think it is more crucial that we can all be a little bit more selfless and thoughtful by actively practicing social distancing and being more conservative with stocking up with supplies.

Now would be a great time to find a good book to read, a TV series to binge watch or a new hobby to pick up as you spend your days at home.