Things I Wish I Could Tell My Senior-Self

Happy February!

In this post, I wanted to do some reflecting and share some wisdom I have gained since coming to college… And I know, I know, what wisdom can a 20-year-old have? Well, going to college is like speed reading a “Discover Who You Really Are for Dummies” book where half the chapters are missing and even when you follow the book exactly, things still don’t always go as planned. After two years and three semesters, I feel like a pro. But watch, tomorrow I will accidentally go to the wrong room or pull a complete amateur move because let’s be real, even the wisest people aren’t that wise during an 8 am class.

Now, while I’m still getting the hang of this whole college thing, I can confidently give advice on things I wish I could tell my senior-self. This idea came when I was applying for internships – I know, scary – and needed my high school transcript. When I went to pull up my old high school’s website, I saw a new “alumni” tab. And that’s when it hit me… I’m an alum! Working in the Office of Development for Embry-Riddle, I always knew I wanted to give back when I became an alum of the university. It had never occurred to me I was already an alum, but of my high school! Long story short, I began to reflect on my high school days and realized I thought I knew it all but boy was I wrong!

To begin, I was a good high school student. It’s not like I ditched class and I’m reflecting on how that was a bad idea. I had a GPA above a 4.0, took college classes, was the president of the National Honor Society and DECA, volunteered, and played a sport. Meanwhile, I worked two jobs and flew at the local airport. Life was busy but very fun. I always knew I wanted to go to Embry-Riddle. It had been my dream school since the 7th grade and my school counselor didn’t even try convincing me otherwise. Sounds like a pretty good time, right? It was! But, there are still things I wish I would have done or known and here they are:

  1. Take as many AP and dual-enrollment classes as possible: When you are paying thousands of dollars to learn basic biology, you will understand what I mean. College, especially ours, has so many interesting courses so try to knock out as many of the basic ones in high school.
  2. Do an internship: My high school offered an internship program and I really wish I had done it! Once you begin applying for internships, you realize that companies want experience and high school is a great time to begin.
  3. Find a mentor: Mentors are super important and I wish I saw this in high school. Always be on the lookout for networking opportunities. My sister’s friend’s mom (convoluted I know, sorry!) went to Embry-Riddle and works for Frontier now! It was nice to have her introduce me to people, write letters of recommendations, invite me to the Women in Aviation Conference as a senior in high school, and then be a great name to drop as an “in” when I attend Frontier events.
  4. Apply for scholarships: You’ve heard it a million times and I’m sorry but… It’s so important to apply, even when you are in college. Since many scholarships have similar essay topics, keep a folder with your essays and use those to quickly write more for other scholarships. Free money is free money and definitely worth 30 minutes of your time. My advice to high schoolers – look local. Even in my tiny town of Castle Rock, Colorado we had many scholarships being handed out by the local library and community organizations.
  5. Tour your top three:  As I mentioned, I knew I wanted to attend Embry-Riddle since 7th grade, so anytime I toured another school, I fell more in love with our unique university. The line was always, “But Riddle has…” If you are unsure where to go, choose your top three schools to tour. Touring a university gives you a great understanding of what your life would be like there. Try to see if you can sit in on a class or if you are touring Embry-Riddle – a flight! Just like you would test drive a car before buying it, tour the campuses of the universities you are most interested in. I say three because if you need to travel it adds up! The investment is definitely worth it! Once you see a campus, you can also begin planning your transition, like what items you need to start buying!
  6. Choose friends wisely: Once you leave high school, your life moves on. While you will see your friends during breaks, and social media allows us to always be connected, make sure your focus is on you and your future. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most. I remember it was so easy to get caught up in drama but once you leave those high school doors for the last time, everything else shifts up in importance. Don’t waste your time and energy now on bad friendships. That being said, keep your closest friends close and if you end up on either side of the country (like me and my best friend), dedicate one day of the week for catching up over FaceTime!
  7. Begin dorm shopping ASAP: Packing for college is exciting and stressful. It can be hard to know exactly what you need but even harder to find certain items in the summer once everyone is shopping for their dorms too. Think ahead and get big ideas, like a mattress topper and steamer now and keep them in your closet. No matter where you go, whichever dorm you end up in, you will appreciate the early access but also the spread of costs since moving can add up.
  8. Join your college’s accepted student social media page: Embry-Riddle and many colleges offer social media connections. Think of it as a mini social media site just for your new incoming class. I know many people met their roommates using this app, made friend groups who met up during orientation, or were able to obtain answers to a lot of their questions this way. There is also an admissions adviser who helps answer questions quickly, so be sure to utilize this app and make friends now!
  9. Enjoy home: Once you are away at college and there are no more home cooked meals, you have to do your own laundry, and no one checks in on you, you quickly miss home. There are many times when I come back from a long day and miss my mom having a meal made for me and being able to do homework with my family in the living room with me. Cherish these moments because you will definitely miss them no matter how close you are to your family.
  10. Use your resources: I recommend talking to your high school counselor and college counselor often. Do not be shy when it comes to college. Finances and academics are confusing as you make your transition over, but remember tons of people do it and so can you. Your counselors have helped many others before you and are there to help now! Be smart and utilize your resources. If you are too nervous, try to find a current student to reach out to. For women coming to Embry-Riddle, you have a Women’s Ambassador. On top of that, my mom’s friend’s daughter also attended school here, so I was able to meet with her during summer and have my questions answered! It’s a small world, you never know who you may know that could be useful! (P.S. Do you FASFA earlier rather than later! It was the most stressful part of starting college for me.)

I hope these tips serve you well! The biggest takeaway: it all works out in the end! These are just tips to be a little extra wise!

– Maddie Dietrich

Memorial Day Weekend in Georgia

This past Memorial Day weekend, my boyfriend and his family invited me to see a a small piece of Georgia – Conyers. Half an hour away from Atlanta and my boyfriend’s hometown, Conyers became more than just a weekend getaway from Daytona.

With only 3-hour halves, the drive wasn’t bad for him and me at all. Malik and I took the time to talk and share stories about how we got to Riddle and about our hometowns playing a role in our personal goals. Needless to say, I was eager to see somewhere new and where he grew up.

Malik and I with his car Diana (Yes, she is named after Wonder Woman).

The next day, Malik introduced me to a faculty member at Rockdale Career Academy (RCA). RCA is an opportunity for students of the surrounding area to excel in concentrated programs and complete dual enrollment for college courses. Malik in particular took well over five dual enrollment courses that counted for college credit. It was at RCA that he truly put his dream of becoming an Aerospace Engineer into action. Malik also introduced me to his mentor, Rass.

Rass is the type of person you could talk to about life and goals. He shared with me his garden where he grows varying fruits, vegetables, and herbs. If you’re from the Caribbean you are more likely to have an understanding for the term ‘old head.’ It merely means someone older in age with traditional values that stem from Caribbean ties or roots. In this case, Rass is the type of old head that shares his wisdom in hopes of youth achieving their dreams. He reminded Malik and I that success is not based on materialistic matter, but accomplishing our goals. This was only our first day in Conyers and I was being reminded to appreciate opportunity. We ended the night with something more aligned with tradition for Malik and me by attending the 2017 Atlanta J’ouvert. Its celebratory roots date back to slavery. Today, j’ouverts vary throughout different islands and countries of the Caribbean with the same goal – have fun and embrace the culture. There was music, food, and flags (never attend a j’ouvert without your flag).

There were we;;-over 600 people in attendance including famous Caribbean musicians and artists. The flag you see flying on the far left is of Trinidad and Tobago.

Exhausted from the j’ouvert, Malik and I made Saturday a lazy day. We stayed in and played Uno with his brother and sister. His mom even woke up early just to make us stewed oxtails, macaroni pie, and vegetable rice – all foods from the Caribbean that he and I don’t have often in college.

On our last day, Malik took me to the Golf Course where he worked and trained throughout high school. Keep in mind, I have NEVER golfed before. I know ‘zero’ things about golf! He insisted that I give something new a try. I took a swing at it. I took a very, very horrible swing. The ball didn’t move at all and I’m sad to say that I only sent a good chunk of the Earth about 10 feet away (pretty good distance in my opinion). “You’re not gonna hurt the Earth,” Malik reassured me. “Try again.” So I did try again, and again, and again. Eventually I started to get the ball; some landed near and others far. I’d like to think that I’m on way to being a pro, but Malik protests. I’m determined to try it again.

Malik taking a swing after almost a year. He was an all-star in golf and helped lead his team to a championship.

Malik ended the day with a surprise date at a drive-in movie theater. I love going to the movies, and there’s just something about a drive-in theater that fascinates me. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales was a 10/10. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stick around for the post-credits scene.

All-in-all, it was a memorable weekend. I’m happy Malik could share his hometown with me and even happier that we accomplished so much in a few short days. The road-trip was easy for us. We’re hoping to enjoy a few more long weekends throughout the summer and in between classes and work. The Florida Keys, perhaps? I’ll have to ask him what he thinks!

⋆ Dani


Unforeseen Advice

I walked into the Space Tango office with my usual to-do list of intern tasks, but I didn’t know that I would be adding new goals – like starting a retirement fund.

I’m only 21 going on 22 and my mentor is 25, but she said that she’s already begun saving and there’s no reason I shouldn’t also. Before I knew it, it was the Morning Show with Ellie and I was receiving the most helpful advice since I started working at Space Tango.

Ellie, along with the occasional input from other coworkers, told me about their saving plans, credit scores, and we even talked about stocks a little. These are all things you don’t really learn unless the “right time” comes around. I just didn’t think it would be in the Space Tango office.

I’m a Communication and Marketing intern and I have 6 weeks left. I expected to gain first-hand experience on advertising, public relations, and business tactics in the aerospace industry. In the time that I have been here, I learned more than I expected. My coworkers have shown me not only the reality of the aerospace industry, but the reality of being an adult. The Space Tango team takes the time to make sure I’m adjusting well to a new environment because they understand that at one point this was all new to them as well.

CEO Twyman Clements takes a break from reorganizing the office to show me microscope glasses.

CEO Twyman Clements takes a break from reorganizing the office to show me microscope glasses.

When I began my internship, all of my questions were oriented towards my area of study, but I have to remind myself that my mentors are just people. They can provide more than just feedback on your work, but a new perspective on life. What should we really be paying attention to? Why do we work as hard as we do?

There’s so much more to take into consideration then we think, and it’s a lot easier to have the people that have gone through it tell you how it went than figuring it all out on your own. I’m not alone, and being an intern isn’t unfamiliar. We all have to start somewhere, so don’t be too serious. Ask questions outside of school and work. Learn about the people around you and it may just start to feel a little like home.

⋆ Dani