My Fall 2023 Semester as a Dual Masters Student

I woke up this morning and it was 59 degrees outside: heaven! The weather is finally starting to change and I am already getting out my cozy sweaters and winter boots. I know it doesn’t get too cold here in Florida, but when it does get cooler, it is magical. There is a nostalgic smell in the air for me, a cool breeze that tickles your skin, cozy Halloween decorations on the neighbors’ front porches (including mine), and all of the Autumn movie specials on Hallmark. As much as I love the Summer months and the beach, I think Autumn is my favorite season. This beautiful wreath is from Kohl’s in Port Orange and it was 50% off! Could you tell I love shopping for Fall decor?

Not to mention the other best part of fall: the food and drinks! My favorite coffee from Starbucks right now is a grande pumpkin spice latte with vanilla cream cold foam on top. This coffee is from the Starbucks in Cocoa Beach, FL near where I work.

I just recently celebrated my 25th birthday in September and it was a special one. Not only was it my first birthday as a Masters student, but we celebrated at Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Halloween Party. My birthday was always the first mark of the Fall season. My fiance and I ate dinner at Cinderella’s Castle, rode some fun rides, and took the best photos!

I got to celebrate my 25th birthday with multiple friends and family members. We had another birthday dinner at Ocean Deck Restaurant & Beach Bar in Daytona Beach. It is right on the beach and they have delicious food.

We did end up with a few hurricanes skirting by over the first few months of the semester. It is always fun for me to prepare for a storm, although I never actually wish one would hit us. They can be devastating, but I grew up preparing for hurricanes since I have lived in Florida my whole life. Actually, I think there is another one forming as I type this post…

Just last week I was woken up at 4:45 am by the National Weather Service’s emergency alter announcing a tornado warning for northern Volusia county. So there we were, myself and my two 8 year old nieces piled in the bathtub taking cover to “stay vigilant” at 5:00 a.m. while my fiance and his cousin moseyed around other parts of the house to check for signs of tornado activity. We ended up getting no damage or strong winds, but it is always something here. Despite Florida getting so many storms and heat waves and tornadoes, it never fails to amaze me how beautiful this part of the country is.

Life at school has been busy. The Society of Women in Space Exploration (SWISE) had our first 2 meetings of the semester, and we are currently planning our Halloween party and some fundraising events. I love my girls!

Studying for graduate-level courses is next-level. I really enjoy the content I am learning about. I know it will prepare me for a successful future in the industry. I am currently taking a strategic marketing class and a systems engineering quality assurance class. Starbucks in the morning is my saving grace study place, until it gets too noisy, then the computer lab is my next best place.

My fiance is from Jacksonville, FL so we frequent the large metropolis every other weekend or so to visit family and explore the city and region. We also go to the Jacksonville Jaguars home games at Everbank Stadium. We have season tickets and we both really enjoy football!

I recently left one of my 5 jobs to make more time in my schedule. After almost 4 years, I will no longer be working at the Admissions Office on campus. I will truly miss the faculty and staff that I have made connections with during my time there. I told everyone that I will come back to visit every now and then, and maybe bring doughnuts too.

Embry-Riddle has been my home away from home since January 2020. Living right down the street has been a blessing; being able to commute 8 minutes and be at my university, and then to go back home to my family at the end of my day. I couldn’t ask for a better environment to learn, grow, work, and live (half of the time).

Here is to 25 years and many more to come!


Gators & Great Location

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL and it is officially my LAST month of undergraduate classes before Final Exams in May, Graduation, and Commissioning! I am so excited for the semester to be over and my 5-year college journey coming to a close. When I graduate I will have a B.S. Aerospace Engineering with an Aeronautics Area of Concentration, in addition to Minors in Arabic Studies and Military Science. It’s been a challenging, yet rewarding journey and I’m in the final push to the finish line!

I’ve been preparing for the semester to end by focusing on my studies, while trying to combat burnout. Thus, I’ve been exploring! I recently took a short weekend trip to Gainesville, Florida, about two hours from Daytona Beach to go to Trader Joe’s, see some old friends, and look at alligators! While I was visiting Gainesville, only a day trip away from ERAU, I stopped at Sweetwater Wetlands Park – a nature preserve with walking trails and thriving wildlife. While getting some sunshine and walking around the park I saw a total of 17 alligators! Yes, SEVENTEEN! Other than when I visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, it was the most alligators I had seen in one place, and wild alligators at that! Although I have heard that all waterways in Florida have the potential to contain alligators, I have never actually seen any alligators in the wild or in captivity in Daytona Beach. Florida’s State Reptile is the American Alligator so I sought out the wildlife park in Gainesville to fulfill my ‘before graduation’ bucket list of seeing wild alligators, and it did not disappoint!

Gator in Gainesville – only a short distance away from ERAU!

The alligators I saw ranged from baby gators around 1-2 feet long, to medium sized teenage gators, to adult alligators. I also saw a plethora of various birds, fish, and even rabbits!

Another alligator spotted from the hiking path at Sweetwater!

One of the best aspects of Daytona Beach is that it is close to many major cities. I highly recommend day-trips to St. Augustine, Orlando, Gainesville, and the Space Coast. Kennedy Space Center is only about an hour south of the university! While most launches from Kennedy Space Center can be viewed even from campus, taking the journey to watch them up close is a truly special and remarkable experience I recommend partaking in – at least once while studying at Riddle! Additional fun activities to check out throughout your time in FL include Universal Studios, Walt Disney Disney, or SeaWorld! My personal favorite is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I’ve also heard great things about Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival at the EPCOT theme park at Walt Disney World! There is so much to do so close to ERAU, the possibilities are endless. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!