At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, there are banners that are attached to the light posts with the famous saying, “The ERA of U”, a little play on the school’s acronym. Now that I am back for the fall, this quote is what motivates me to make my sophomore year the best one yet!
Although my freshman year at Riddle was nothing short of fantastic, like any hardworking student, I greeted summer with open arms and appreciated the chance for a break. My summer consisted of traveling outside of the United States for the first time in my life, seeing my first rocket launch, taking summer classes, and working at Universal Studios Orlando.
I kicked off my break by leaving the United States to travel to Gonaives, Haiti. It was my first time leaving the country, so of course I was a little timid. Some of you may be asking, “Rachel, what caused you to be so adventurous and act outside your comfort zone?” Well, my fellow students, I traveled to Haiti with an organization on campus called Project Haiti, which is one of the groups that make up the Clean Energy Club. The club’s overall goal is to not only to provide communities in Haiti with clean water, but to also educate them about sanitation and how to start up a business. Over the course of the school year, we designed and built a water pupurification system from scratch and traveled to Haiti and installed it at an orphanage in Gonaives. The experience was truly amazing. I met so many people and learned a lot about the Haitian culture. I even learned a little bit of Creole along the way!
Another highlight of my summer was visiting Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to see my first rocket launch, which was of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. It was my first time being to KSC, despite myself being a native Floridian. Everything about the launch was awesome, until the rocket actually exploded due to a faulty strut. I thought it was ironic that the rocket would explode on my first launch viewing. I had to tweet Elon Musk and tell him I was sorry I “jinxed” his launch, on his birthday. Although it was an overall failure, the launch only motivated me more to continue my degree in Aerospace Engineering, so I could one day design rockets. Ones that don’t blow up of course.
My summer adventures summarized my main point- that at Embry-Riddle, it really is the “Era” of “U”. Because of this university, I was able to help orphans in Haiti get clean water. Because of this university, I am able to learn more about my career goals and even become more passionate about it.
If there is one piece of advice I have for any new students at Riddle, it’s that you should make your college experience all about YOU. If you’ve always thought about joining the crew team, do it. If you want to join a sorority, do it. If you want to get your Level 1 certification for high power rocketry, do it. Why wouldn’t you do it? There is no better time to get involved than right now.
It’s really time for the “Era” of “U”!