September & Fall 2021 Schedule

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL. As Week 2 of the Fall 2021 semester at ERAU-DB is coming to a close, I can say that classes, activities, clubs, and events are back into full swing operations. Currently, masks are the expectation on campus and all my classes are in person and most of my obligations, sans for a few Zoom meetings and Group Projects. This semester I am taking AE 432 – Flight Dynamics and Control, AE 420- Aircraft Preliminary Design, AE 416 – Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation, along with AE 417 – Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab, HS 325 – Terrorism Origins and Ideologies, as well as my normal Air Force ROTC mornings Physical Training and Leadership Laboratory sessions.

In addition to my course load I am also participating in a tutoring extension of the summer program I took part in with Project Global Officer (Project GO). I attend one hour Zoom tutoring sessions weekly, with a Masters Student studying at the University of Arizona (the host university I studied with over the summer, in collaboration with the AALIM Center in Meknes, Morocco). Project GO is a critical language learning initiative offered through the Department of Defense to ROTC students in all branches of service. Four years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would be able to read, write, and speak in Arabic, but here we are folks, my progress even amazes me!

Since the semester is back to its typical business, I’ve been trying to take time to prioritize my health this year, particularly by focusing on staying safe and healthy in light of the pandemic. I tried a Cycle class at the Fitness Center last week, and am looking forward to checking out more Group Fitness classes in addition to Cycle (I would highly recommend!), such as Yoga, BodyPump, and Boxing Conditioning!

Outside of class and working out, I spent last weekend getting some sunshine at the beach. I watched the sunrise then went surfing and got to catch up on some leisurely reading. This weekend, I have mandatory class sessions on Saturday and Sunday, totaling 4 extra hours for a class that typically is supposed to meet during the week for a total of 6 hours. (An additional 2/3 of our usual amount of class time… split into two Mandatory sessions on both Saturday AND Sunday!) Since my free time is and few in between lately, I am cherishing the time I got to enjoy last weekend.

Sunrise at the beach last weekend!

I spent the long Labor Day weekend also taking a self-care trip to Orlando about an hour away from campus with my friend to visit the local Trader Joes. At Trader Joes I got two very fun new drinks to try: one Maple Oat Milk to put in my coffee (pictured below left) and two – Chai Tea Concentrate to make chai tea lattes (pictured below right)! Chai tea lattes are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, and I am very excited about both of my new finds!

New Trader Joes Maple Oat Milk and Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate!

As I currently blog in the midst of doing laundry and making coffee between my classes, I am especially grateful that we had the opportunity to make the trip over the weekend. The maple oat milk in coffee is so delicious! Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe!

Orientation & Re-Introduction

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, back on campus as a Resident Advisor (RA) and I’m ready to get the Fall 2021 semester started! The past week or so I’ve spent every day in training for my RA position, my Student Government Association (SGA) position, and for Orientation Team. Since it is a new semester and I anticipate I will meet a lot of new people working around campus during Orientation and Move In, I decided it’s time for a re-introduction!

Hello! My name is Merrick and this is my 5th year working towards a Bachelors of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. I plan to graduate in Spring 2022. My concentration is in Aeronautics, with a minor in Arabic Studies. On campus, I’m an RA, an SGA Associate Justice on the Student Court, an Orientation Team Ambassador, a University 101 Peer Mentor, an Air Force ROTC Cadet, and I blog for the school!

In my free time (which is very limited), when I’m not in class, meetings, doing homework, or studying, you will most likely find me working out. I love to run and workout outside, as well as attend Fitness Classes at the Fitness Center on campus! My app of choice is Spotify, and I love listening to music on my noise canceling headphones. I also love music when I’m running, and I like to listen to podcasts in Arabic for fun. My current favorite is BBC Extra. I try to do yoga every day, particularly in the mornings (even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes when I wake up). I’ve been fairly consistent in that routine for about a year now. If I’m not doing yoga I’m probably sleeping, reading books (my latest find is Grow Rich! With Peace of Mind by Napoleon Hill), or doing an outside activity.

On the weekends if I’m free I will most likely be at the beach, surfing, hiking, on nature walks, or listening to podcasts in English like Ted Talks Daily or Short Wave (a science podcast hosted by NPR).

This is me on a hike from my summer in Alaska!

I love plants. I also love dark chocolate! I drink a lot of water, and also a lot of coffee and tea. In particular, I prefer hot coffee in the mornings, iced tea or coffee in the afternoons, and hot tea in the evenings. I enjoy smoothies, especially on the hot Florida days after a workout.

Some of my plants I keep by the window in my Residence Hall room!

I am so excited to meet my residents this semester and I’m looking forward to greeting all the incoming students during Orientation. If you see me around campus, feel free to say hi!

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

New Schedules & Summer Shifts

Happy July everyone! I’m currently blogging from Fairbanks, Alaska and the 60 degree summers are a stark contrast to summer weather in Daytona Beach. I stayed in my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia for about a month and am going to be in Alaska until I return to ERAU in August for the Fall 2021 semester.

A view of one of the last sunsets I will see until I return to the east coast for the Fall 2021 semester!

I am looking forward to my final half of summer being filled with a smooth conclusion of my summer Arabic classes through the University of Arizona and post Project GO program testing, as much hiking as possible, and visits to all the Alaska coffee shops. Currently in the Fairbanks summer the sun shines almost all day, sunset is at approximately midnight and sunrise happens at about 3:00 AM. Since the night time only consists of sunlight and a few hours of dusk/dawn transition, my schedule has shifted a bit too. I intend to spend my Winter Break between the fall and spring semester in Fairbanks as well, but during that time I expect the temperatures will be about 40 below with lots of snow and only about 3 hours of sunlight everyday.

A view from the Airbus A321neo window en route to Fairbanks International Airport (FAI)! Working towards my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering I may be partial to the sky, but nevertheless flying is always my favorite!

My Alaska Summer online class schedule:

I typically wake up around 4:00 AM, do yoga, make breakfast and coffee, then hop on my Language Partner meetings from 5:00-6:00 AM, have a 30 minute break filled with another cup of coffee or tea, then I go to my professor’s Office Hours or meet with my program’s director or coordinators, followed by a total of four hours of class, then an hour of tutoring.

I am typically finished with class obligations by noon, just in time to make lunch, workout, and finish homework. Usually in the evenings I’ve been having fun enjoying Fairbank’s food truck scene for an afternoon snack or dinner, and going on evening hikes (since the sun doesn’t set until midnight). In my free time I have also been reading Bear Tales for the Ages: From Alaska and Beyond by Larry Kanuit, because Alaska has peaked my wilderness curiosity. In addition to my goal to try every coffee shop in the city while I’m here for the rest of the summer, I also have a goal to safely spot some wildlife, including but not limited to: a bald eagle, a moose, and a bear (from a VERY safe distance away). Bonus exploration: A few days ago I went to see Cruella in theaters which was very fun too!

As my life keeps changing and evolving, each day becomes more exciting and I am always looking forward to what adventures lie ahead. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Summer B & Summer Snacks

Happy July everyone! I am currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia where I am enjoying my last few days on the East Coast until the in person Fall semester at Riddle starts again. I’ve had the great opportunity to see family and explore yoga and spin classes, frequent coffee shops, and visit the beach as much as possible in my hometown and I’m getting ready to start the second half of my summer classes (Summer B Term), and begin preparing for the semester of my final year at Riddle… before I graduate in Spring 2022!

I am so excited for my last year. I will be an RA in a different Residence Hall and am happy to get back to all my fun extracurriculars. My last year will include Air Force ROTC, being a Peer Mentor for University 101 classes, being an Associate Justice on the Student Government Association’s (SGA’s) Student Court, and of course being an Orientation Team Leader!

Although my summers are still busy with my summer classes for Arabic studies, they are significantly more relaxed than the hustle and bustle of the Fall and Spring semesters. That being said I have had the luxury as of lately to have the time to briefly relax in between my studies.

Post spin class coffee shop break with my sister!

Books I’ve been reading recently include When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink and The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip and Dan Heath, both of which were recommended by the current Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force (CMSSF Towberman) when he visited ERAU during the Spring 2021 semester and spoke to the Air Force ROTC cadets one morning.

My favorite quick snacks in between classes lately have been chips and salsa, hummus with cucumbers or carrots, unsalted mixed nuts, fresh cherries or watermelon, and frozen banana slices with almond butter, dark chocolate, and sea salt.

One of my favorite super easy, super delicious, refreshing summer snacks!

Frozen banana slices are one of my new favorite study break treats and can even be made in a dorm room! I started by slicing about 3 bananas that were about to go bad, melting chocolate (which can be done with chocolate chips in a microwave for about 15 second intervals, stirring in between), then laying my banana slices flat on tin foil before dolloping with almond butter (or your favorite nut or seed butter), melted chocolate, and sea salt! After all your slices are covered, lay them them flat in the freezer for about 30 minutes, and you will have a super tasty treat that can be transferred to a bag or Tupperware container in the freezer for whenever you need a study break!

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

December 11th 2012

Finally! Winter break is here! Done with classes and don’t have to worry about school for a month. It will be a much needed break for everyone. Looking back on the semester, however; the last three months have just flown by. It literally seems like it was just yesterday I was moving into my dorm room, and yet today I spent most of my day cleaning and packing for my visit back home. What a great first semester of college it has been. Not anything like what I had expected, yet completely exceeded my hopes and aspirations. I could not be more confident with my decision to attend Embry-Riddle.

Finally finals are over. Throughout the course of the semester I’ve heard people talk about “how stressful finals are” and how you should remember that “there is a life after finals,” so naturally I was really curious as to how I would respond to my first week of finals at Embry-Riddle. Fortunately, I did quite well on all of my exams. I didn’t fail any tests that resulted in a dramatic change in my grades, so it was a win. In fact, I did so well on my math final I brought my grade up to a B, and math is not my strongest subject so I was very pleased with that. It felt good to finish the semester out strong. Now, I can go home and enjoy the break with friends and family and not have to worry about my grades. If you put the work in during the semester, you really shouldn’t have a problem with final exams.

Last week, Air Force ROTC ended for the semester. We had our Pass in Review ceremony to close out the fall term. Cadets were given different awards based on leadership, academics and physical fitness. It was a very nice ceremony other than the fact that we had to stand in the same place for about 45 minutes without being able to move. I am really looking forward to next semester in ROTC. Now that I have a good understanding of how ROTC life works, I am ready to start making some strides and working my way to becoming a commissioned Officer in the Air Force.

Photo: My Flight poses for a picture after the fall 2012 Pass in Review Ceremony.

Flying is going great. I had my first solo a couple of weeks ago and it was awesome! My instructor and I went up to Palatka, Florida where I dropped him off and took the plane for myself. I did three landings while he watched from the ground. After, I picked him up and we stopped for lunch to celebrate. It was definitely a great experience and is a milestone in your aviation career. This past week I have been working on my cross country flights. Over the weekend, I flew down to Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, then back to Daytona for a duration of 1.9 hours. Cross country flying is definitely my favorite. You really feel like a pilot when you are filing a flight plan, getting a weather briefing and planning your route of flight while calculating time, fuel, distance, etc. Last evening, I was scheduled for my night cross country to St. Petersburg, but we had to cancel due to weather. I will be finishing up my cross country flights after I return in January. After that, I will have another solo in the local practice area, then two solo cross country flights! After, I will have a few practice flights then I’ll be up for my end of course check ride. It’s crazy to think that before I came down here in the summer I had absolutely no flight experience and now within 2 months I should already have my Private Pilot Certificate. Up next will be my Instrument rating.

Photo: Photo from Embry-Riddle of my first solo.

 It’s been a great first semester and I am really looking forward to going back home and spending the holidays with my family. I hope you have a great holiday and I’ll talk to you next year. Thanks for reading!