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!

Spring 2021 Closing & Fall 2021 Prep

Happy May everyone! I’m currently blogging from Savannah, GA where the local coffee shops and restaurants are treating me well. Today is officially two weeks past my second COVID-19 vaccination shot and I am so thrilled that society is readjusting to being mask-free and more holistically health conscious (meaning prioritizing mental AND physical wellness). Today ERAU-DB sent an official University Communications email from the Office of the President noting that face masks are now optional for everyone on campus according to CDC guidelines! This is such exciting news given the state of the past year and how the global pandemic has impacted everyday operations. Also, I start my Arabic online summer classes in about a week through Project GO! I officially closed off my fourth year (of five) at ERAU this Spring 2021 semester with a term GPA of 4.0. With only two more semesters left before I graduate and commission into the USAF through AFROTC, I have high hopes for one more successful year and now I am excited more than ever that it will be a year mask-free as well!

Orientation from years past!

Orientation Team had our first summer meeting to start preparing for new students arrival to campus in August. The O-Team is bigger than ever and I am very happy to be able to get to know everyone and bond before we meet all the incoming students for Fall 2021. O-Team is a huge family made up of a diverse group of students and together, we span almost every organization on campus, including almost (if not) all majors, a variety of different backgrounds, and we come from all over the world. O-Team is a powerhouse full of helpful student resources, who together are knowledgeable about all things ERAU, are fluent in most languages, and full of positive energy. As a welcome team for those new to campus, your Orientation Leaders and ERAU experts, full of first hand experience and trained in all things ERAU, are here to help make your transition to college as simple, and as fun as possible!

Per the latest ERAU update, effective immediately, masks are now optional and we’re super excited to welcome new students as we resume normal operations!!

I joined O-Team because the first student I met at ERAU helped me during Orientation, then as I moved into my Residence Hall that same O-Team leader was a Resident Advisor (RA) on my floor too! That same student ended up being one of my mentors throughout her time at ERAU before she graduated, one of my best friends, and even my Big in Greek Life! She pioneered the way for me at Riddle. Connections and friendships I had with upperclassman as a freshmen inspired and motivated me throughout my years in college. Those relationships inspire and motivate me today to reach my goals and help others do the same. While people come to college for the academics, the environment and the connections they make at the university are truly key players in why students choose to stay. Whether you’re a traditional extrovert, introvert, combination, or something completely different, college offers a social outlet for you to explore your interests through the variety of clubs, organizations, majors, minors, and extracurricular activities that ERAU has to offer. Our university gives you the tools you need to help you find out how to be true to yourself, explore your interests, find what you’re passionate about and what motivates you, and help you succeed as a student and as a professional in the workforce post-graduation.

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon with more updates to follow on how summer classes are treating me and more preparation for the Fall 2021 semester!

Balance & Busy Schedules

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida pulling a power weekend (meaning I’m on call working at my Resident Advisor position) after following a power week of working 12+ hours daily jumping from Orientation Team activities to RA move in shifts and I feel like I haven’t had time to catch my breath, even though classes haven’t actually started yet.

I’ve spent most of August hopping from trainings and working with the same people (masks ON Eagles). My residents are finally moving in and I’m very excited to meet everyone, even if it is primarily over email, GroupMe, or Zoom meetings. Between door decorations, hall decorations, bulletin boards, presentations, meetings, welcome and orientation events, it’s a wonder I’ve even been getting sleep lately. We LOVE good time management skills.

Much to my surprise, I’ve still found time to do yoga every morning and alternate my calisthenic workout days with my cardio days in between my busy schedule. I am a firm believer that people make time for what is important to them. For example, if you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with obligations and options make a list and prioritize your commitments. Be SURE to include your commitments to your self care too! Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are very important to a well balanced lifestyle.

O Team with my favorite leader!

Most questions I get related to college life from new students are centered around academics, which are extremely important, but not to the extent that you neglect your well being.

Story time! My first semester of college I was getting between 4-6 hours of sleep every night and I was mentally not in a great place, even though I was giving academics the majority of my attention. While there may be many outlying influencing factors in this, my second semester of college I made an agreement with myself to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Amazingly, I found that my final letter grades were identical in ratio to my first semester, with no deviations.

Only did my grades start improving when I started focusing on my ACTUAL wellbeing, my overall health, and balancing my time between myself and everything else.

O-Team is our favorite team!

In high school, middle school, and elementary school I took a fair share of mental health days, didn’t go to class on my birthday, and most certainly didn’t go to school if I was sick. When I got to college I was extremely stressed and constantly felt like I was trying to catch up and compete to not fall behind in the work culture.

What you give your time and energy to is SO important, and a little self care goes a LONG way. If I am crunched on time and need to decide on an extra hour of sleep or an hour of working out, my answer constantly changes depending on how I’m feeling and what I need to accomplish for that day or for the next day. You have to make the best decisions for yourself. Set boundaries. Don’t stretch yourself too thin! Prioritize your time, energy, and commitments, while reflecting back on your needs.

Will report back soon folks! Keep on keeping on!

Announcements & Roles

Happy June everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, VA and I found out I’m going to be a Peer Mentor for University 101 (UNIV 101) for the Fall 2020 semester! University 101 is a class exactly what it sounds like, essentially a “How-To” for the behind the scenes (ie paperwork) side of college navigation, a *sometimes* confusing yet necessary aspect of university life. Most engineering students take this course, while Aeronautical Science, Aviation, and Business students attend a slightly different version of the class catered towards their unique degree paths.

A Peer Mentor for UNIV 101 is a leadership position available to graduate and undergraduate students as a learning coach, student advocate, trusted peer, and source of information about the University and its offerings/resources. I like to see it as an extension of being on Orientation Team as an O Team Ambassador. In this position I will be in the UNIV 101 class sessions (sort of like a Teacher’s Assistant) and help students become familiar with university resources such as ERNIE, Canvas, and Campus Solutions. I will be an additional resource for answering questions like locating advisor information, finding the course catalog, online registration, navigating placement evaluations, and Academic Study Plans!

In Air Force ROTC we make academic study plans mapping out our classes for each semester up until graduation, which is very helpful in ensuring you meet all of your course requirements for a timely graduation and something that the UNIV 101 course immensely facilitates and provides resources to help you plan and communicate with your Academic Advisor.

Recently reflecting, I realized I hold a lot of leadership positions on campus.

I am a Student Blogger (of course),

a Resident Advisor (RA),

an Orientation Team Ambassador (O Team Ambassador),

a Student Government Association (SGA) Student Court Associate Justice where I am the acting Clerk (essentially a spokesperson),

in Air Force ROTC with the leadership position I am assigned as a Professional Officer Course (POC) Cadet for the semester,

and now a Peer Mentor for University 101 as well…. In addition to getting a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a Minor in Arabic Studies, and miraculously I still find time to workout!

My current progress!

If anyone has questions on time management or any of the positions/organizations I’m a part of, feel free to reach out on this platform or if you see me around campus! Additionally if I specifically am not a part of a group that you want to join, there is a high chance that I know someone who is and I can put you in contact with them!

My summer classes have officially kicked off and we’re almost halfway through summer which is mind boggling to me. As my third summer participating in Project Global Officer learning Arabic I can say that I definitely prefer in-person learning as compared to online courses. Learning a new language in itself is difficult, but sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day is almost more difficult to me.

I will report back soon on how my language learning is progressing over Zoom, and more information about my current summer class schedule and how my on campus leadership positions impact my time management during the fall. Stay safe everyone!

Balance & Blessings

Happy February everyone! This month is coming to an end and there’s a lot of exciting things in the works just around the corner. 

For AFROTC cadets in their AS200 year everyone seems to be holding their breath until Enrollment Allocations for Field Training this summer are released. Midterms are just around the corner, and preparation for projects and presentations are in full swing, with lots of quizzes and homework sprinkled in between. Am I stressed? Yes, but I am also extremely grateful to be in the situation I am in and I am genuinely enjoying the ride.

It is so easy to get caught up in the to-do lists and the responsibilities, but once you find a balance and ride the flow of everything, it’s almost beautiful how time management works. Now folks, you may be reading this and think I’ve cracked the code, but I’m still tired all the time, so its definitely a process. I would say the things that keep me the most sane are my friends, making time for myself to workout, do yoga, just breathe, getting packages from my family, phone calls with my grandma, facetiming my mom, texting my sister… not to mention a countdown to spring break, mini countdowns until the weekend each week, and keeping tea and an emergency stash of dark chocolate as my go-to when homework and studying keeps me up late at night.

Some of my friends and I after a sandbag beach PT!

I recently got news that I was rehired for my Resident Advisor position for the 2019-2020 school year and have the privilege of staying in my same building!

In other news, my flight from AFROTC had a bonfire on Friday night that was really great. You would be surprised that the people you see and interact with in training everyday are so multidimensional. Getting to know them on a personal level outside of only seeing each other in stressful situations is really an eye opening experience. You hear everyone talk about how getting to know your people is extremely important for a well functioning team, but until you actually make an effort to do so, it doesn’t resonate how truly important this is.

And now for a few facts to help you get to know me better:

I spent yesterday in the beautiful partly cloudy 85 degree February Florida weather volunteering with AFROTC at a Track Meet with some of best friends.

I love Kodiak cakes pancakes, and making pancakes, with fresh maple syrup and some sort of nut butter spread on them. Breakfast is my favorite meal hands down, and sometimes when I’m having a bad day I most certainly eat breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The freedom in college is nice like that.

My new “thing” is smiling at strangers in passing when walking to class, because although everyone complains, it’s truly a good life and we’re lucky to be here.

I usually end my days with yoga and a cup of tea before bed.

Sometimes when I’m stressed I look up pictures of Romanesco Broccoli, which actually isn’t a broccoli, it’s a cousin of the cauliflower, which follows an infinite Fibonacci Fractal sequence. I discovered this vegetable’s existence last year in Paris with my sister and have been fascinated ever since. Nature is so beautiful.

Romanesco Broccoli per an ad to purchase this “broccoli” on Amazon. It’s wild looking, right?!

Will report back soon. As always, I am writing to you on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea and pancakes, I have a meeting in an hour, along with some homework I need to tend to. Until next time, enjoy the journey friends!

Daytona & Decorations

Happy January everyone! Also happy new year! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, back in Florida with the temperatures in the 70s and the golden sunshine. 

The first week of school has concluded and it was busy to say the least. Mind you, the first full week is yet to come, but our initial three day week sure did have me exhausted, and classes aren’t even in full swing yet!

A brief look into my first week’s schedule: 

On Wednesday, the first official day of classes, I started with an AFROTC Fitness Assessment early in the morning, then proceeded to have my Aerospace Flight Vehicles class, Differential Equations, a meeting with my boss for my Resident Advisor position, a hall wing meeting for my 38 residents, and then RA duty for the night where you are required to be “On-Call” in the residence hall starting at 5pm, then sit at the desk and perform building rounds from 7pm until 11pm, and be “On Call” again until the Housing and Residence Life Office opens at 8am the following morning.

My second day consisted of waking up and running, my Modern Middle Eastern World Affairs class, Dynamics, and a boxing class with my favorite girl gang.

Friday started with the first official training day for AFROTC, ergo the first Leadership Laboratory of my Field Training Preparation semester which was challenging, followed by my Air Force class, then Aerospace Flight Vehicles, and another serving of Differential Equations, concluding my day and first week with a group bonding activity with my AFROTC flight in the evening. AFROTC flights change every semester, so team bonding is extremely important outside of training to ensure you all perform cohesively during training!

As an RA, your job includes decorating your hallways in the dorms where your residents reside. This semester I based my theme loosely on comic book fonts, with most of the inspiration originating from the 1966 film Batman: The Movie. 

Some of my hall decorations included: Wham!
Zok
Boff!
Zoom!
Blam
and of course, Pow!

Although it was so nice being on break and really getting a chance to briefly take my mind off of all my responsibilities, it definitely feels good to escape the cold weather, and begin to get back into the swing of things, but I do miss my friends and family from back home.

My mom and I on a hike over the winter break.
Some friends and I that I got the chance to visit over the break!

Next week will be a busy one as well, and between Orientation Team, my RA position, AFROTC, Aerospace Engineering, Arabic, and numerous other tasks and obligations that pull me in a thousand different directions, I’m sure this semester will be challenging, but definitely worth it.

Stay motivated and positive as you settle into the new year. Will report back soon!