My First Semester as a Dual Master’s Student

It is officially May and my first semester of graduate studies has come to a close. The last 6 months have been so eventful, but so enriching in many different ways. I can’t wait to tell you about the last 6 months of my life!

Over the Spring 2023 semester, in addition to working at the Admissions Office and as a blogger, I got the opportunity to work as a graduate student assistant for the College of Business, partaking in different campus-wide events. I was able to continue to serve as the President of the Society of Women in Space Exploration (SWISE) Embry-Riddle chapter, promoting diversity and women empowerment in the field of STEM and space exploration through our outreach and meetings. SWISE attended beach cleanups, tabled around campus, and attended the E-week awards ceremony at the College of Engineering where we were awarded a plaque for our continued efforts in the fields of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I also had the opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends more than ever! It seems like the busier my schedule has gotten, the more organized my life gets…

SWISE E-Week Awards Ceremony Spring 2023
College of Business Beach Cleanup

There were so many other cool opportunities this semester including volunteering to table at the Graduate Programs table for the College of Business, presenting to the New Smyrna Public Library about the ARTEMIS program, and continued work for Sidus Space in Cape Canaveral.

Sidus Space got to honor one of our employees at the We Venture Women Who Rock Awards Ceremony. It was a nice luncheon that showcased all the awesome women in all sorts of different lines of work who were nominated!

Earlier in the semester, I attended one of the astronomy open house nights at the College of Arts and Sciences. My friend and I attended the public lecture where we got to see an hour-long presentation from SETI’s Seth Shostak about alien exploration in the universe. We also got to head over to participate in cool STEM arts and crafts, as well as look through the 3-meter telescope on the 5th floor!

I got to spend time with my family and friends too. I ran a St. Patrick’s Day 5K race in New Smyrna with one of my best friends and then got to enjoy pizza while doing homework!

Being an alumni is an honor, but I am even more grateful that I get the opportunity to continue my education as a dual Master’s student pursuing my M.S. in Systems Engineering and an MBA simultaneously. I received an alumni package in the mail that was a nice gesture and testament to my legacy at Embry-Riddle. I am so grateful to be on such a beautiful campus!

As many of you might know, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with my B.S. in Spaceflight Operations in December 2022. It was a beautiful ceremony that I will never forget, honoring all the hard work I put into my undergraduate degree. I know this graduation was only one more in the books of many still to come.

My last bit of good news (for now): over Christmas break and into the new year, I got engaged! It was on Christmas day in front of our friends and family. It was such a beautiful surprise and the perfect end to my year!

Wow! What a jam-packed semester. I made Dean’s List, passing both of my classes and having a 3.5 GPA. I am so excited for more adventures in the Fall semester. I am already looking into Ph.D programs, like MIT’s Ph.D in Astronautics and Aeronautics or Stanford University’s Ph.D in Astronautics. This year has been great so far, now time for a fun, relaxing, and much-needed summer break. My fiance and I are headed to Orlando in 2 weeks for a 4-day Disney vacation. I got our Disney tickets discounted through the university. It pays to be a student employee! Also, I will be working full-time for Sidus Space while continuing my research on radiation shielding and preparing to present at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2024 (fingers crossed)!

Disney tickets for May 2023 from Embry-Riddle’s ICI fitness and recreational center

I am so grateful to be an Embry-Riddle student with so many awesome opportunities still to come. Cheers to the summer semester, no matter if you are pursuing classes, working, or just relaxing on vacation half the time. Everyone deserves a relaxing break… Reach for the stars!

#BlackGirlMagic in STEM

We come to college to learn from books, but the biggest lessons we gain are from the people we cross paths with. As a woman of color at a predominantly white institution (and predominantly male), it can be challenging to find confidence in yourself. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many inspirational women of all ages and even more so, women of color that seek out not only to advance themselves, but the people around them as well.

For this post I will be highlighting one particular woman that has gone above and beyond at Embry-Riddle. Meet Naia!

Naia is a junior in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Applied Mathematics. She is actively involved in National Society of Black Engineers, McNair Scholars, Kappa Mu Epsilon, Bible Study, and Dreams Soar Inc. With all of this on her plate, Naia is also the founder of Embry-Riddle Dancing Eagles. Naia is a Pathways intern at NASA Glenn Research Center working on a High Power Density CubeSat project. Although she began her Pathways internship last September, she is currently on her second cycle of the program. 

Astronaut and NASA Glenn Research Center Director, Janet Kavandi (left) and student Naia (right) being sworn in for her first day as a Pathways intern.

I’ve watched Naia from the moment she arrived thrive among her peers as an individual, but even the most successful people have fears about fitting in! She was excited to answer a few questions in hopes of relating to other women of color pursuing, or currently in STEM fields.

“As a woman of color on campus, I feel the biggest challenge I face is Atychiphobia – the fear of being wrong. Stereotypes of women of color in society are often negative.”

As a ‘super-minority,’ women of color often feel intimidated in their academic space. We are subjected to expectations on how we act, dress, and behave. These false expectations can place a lot of pressure on women of color.

“I never want to feel like an undeserved token student or the stereotypical uneducated black female,” Naia added.

Like Naia, we’ve faced this fear of our mistakes overpowering our academic strength. Like Naia, however, I have learned to overcome this. I, myself, was fortunate enough to meet Naia, and many women like her within the past few years, who strives beyond false expectations and imaginary boundaries and women that make their own connections and find motivation to persevere.

Organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals exist on our campus to allow minorities such as ourselves to flourish. Such organizations exist for other minority groups as well such as the Society for Hispanic Engineers. All of these clubs, and hundreds more are open to everyone.

Naia’s advice? “Remember to build a network of like-minded, motivated and positive individuals.”

Always remember your goal. How do you define success? Finding people that define success the same way you do will allow you to excel. Women of color have an opportunity to flourish academically and socially alongside women like Naia at Embry-Riddle. The university has an abundance of student organizations that can allow you to find the connections you need to persevere. We may have to work twice as hard for recognition, but we do it together.

We met Ms. Johnson at an annual career fair representing NASA and took it upon ourselves to network! We were then invited for a private tour of Kennedy Space Center. Don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities!(From left to right – Grace Johnson, Education and Youth Projects, Moriah Graham from Aeronautical Science, Danielle Rosales from Communication, and now alumna Cheyenne Nurse with a B.S. in Spaceflight Operations (formerly Commercial Space Operations)

Never forget that we’re more than a statistic, we’re breaking the glass ceiling. We’re pushing the boundaries for another generation. Naia and I encourage women of color to look past fears, concerns and intimidation to attend schools like Riddle to embrace who you are while achieving your dream. There are no limits.

⋆ Dani

Spotlight: Women’s Ambassador Program

As some of you may know from my previous blog posts, I am a member of the Women’s Ambassador Program at the Daytona Beach campus. The Women’s Ambassador Program is a program which is underneath the Admissions Office. Our mission is to encourage young girls to become interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), as well as support women who are planning on attending, and already attend ERAU. We accomplish this mission through several different activities.

One of our passions is to help younger girls to become interested in aviation, science, and engineering. We realize that those fields are male-dominated, and want to encourage girls to strive for their dreams, even if they think that they are “boy jobs”. Throughout the year, we go to local schools to host events for the students. At these events we have the kids participate in activities that utilize science. Last year, we had them make catapults, and then had a competition for whose catapult could get the marshmallow the furthest. The kids really enjoyed the friendly competition, as well as getting to create their own mechanism. Earlier this year we went to a Girl Scouts event in Boston, where we made Goo for the girls to play with. They were all very interested in how it was made, and how they could create their own at home. It’s events like these, where we get to interact with children, that really motivate me to continue to be a Women’s Ambassador. I love to see young girls get excited about STEM fields.

In order to encourage women to attend ERAU, we reach out to accepted high school seniors. We do this by calling them once a week, as well as emailing them in the spring. During the months that we get to communicate with the girls, we learn a lot about them. Our job is to be a mentor or a big sister for each girl, so that they feel comfortable coming to ERAU. We want everyone to feel welcome, so we create friendships with the women, and meet them when they get to campus in the fall. This is one of the most rewarding parts of the role, since you feel a sense of pride when a girl you talked to makes the decision to attend Riddle. It is an even better feeling when you get to see them everyday on campus once they start classes. I see a few of my students from last year around campus, and it makes me happy to know that they are doing well, and enjoying ERAU.

Another way we are able to encourage women to attend ERAU is through Admissions events. We travel with the Admissions team to different ERAU receptions around the country, talking to the prospective students. I love that I am able to interact with students and their parents on a face-to-face level. The passion for the industry, that the prospective students have, blows me away. It is a rewarding feeling when a student I met at the reception ends up attending Embry-Riddle. Just the feeling that I was able to help them through part of the process is what makes being a Women’s Ambassador such a great position.

As the Spring semester is reaching its peak, I am excited to get in contact with more prospective students, both over the phone and in person at receptions. The Women’s Ambassador Program will continue to work hard to help new students find their new home at Embry-Riddle.

Until next time,


Fall Break in Boston

I cannot believe half of the semester is already over! Time is seriously flying. Fall Break signifies the middle of the semester, which is nice, but also frightening because of how much I still have to do before the end of the semester! However, it was nice to get away for Fall Break last weekend.

Like most people, I left Daytona to travel. However, what was different is that I was traveling for ‘work’. I say ‘work’ because I wasn’t going home to see my family, and technically I was working, although, my work is so much fun. I traveled to Boston for the Women’s Ambassador Program. I traveled with my friend Kalina, who is also an ambassador. The purpose of the trip was to volunteer at the Geek is Glam STEM Expo for Girl Scouts. We did volunteer, but we also got to sight-see!

Kalina and I woke up very early Friday morning to catch our flight to Boston. After a couple flights, coffees, and awkward naps on the plane, we made it to Boston. Once we arrived we were picked up by an ERAU Admissions Counselor, whom we work with a lot. We all went straight to downtown Boston. Kalina is from MA, so she knew everything about Boston, but what she didn’t know is that she would be surprised by her family when we arrived! After all of the excitement, the group of us toured around the city, since I had never really been downtown.

Hello, Boston!

Hello, Boston!

Our first stop was Quincy Market, where I had the most amazing Lobster Roll. It was delicious!! New England sure does know how to do Lobster. Next, we walked around to Faneuil Hall, Town Hall, Beacon Hill, and through a few parks. I was amazed by all of the history in the city. Of course I learned about Boston in U.S. History, but it was crazy to be where all of the history took place. After our long walk, we walked to Little Italy to grab a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry, which is apparently pretty famous! The cannoli was to-die-for! After our treat we spent some time down by the water, and then headed out of town to our hotel in Central Massachusetts.

Famous Quincy Market

Famous Quincy Market

Kalina and I in front of Faneuil Hall

Kalina and I in front of Faneuil Hall

Myself, Crystal, Kalina, and a friend

Myself, Crystal, Kalina, and a friend

Old City Hall building

Old City Hall building

Chocolate Chip Cannoli from Mike's Pastry

Chocolate Chip Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry

The drive was beautiful, since I got to see the historic Fenway Park, and all of the leaves changing colors. It was nice to be in crisp air as opposed to Florida’s muggy, warm air. However, I did not like the temperature!! All weekend it was about 50 degrees, with lows in the 30s. I was definitely not used to that. We got to our hotel and went out for a nice dinner at a local Italian place. Then it was time for bed, since Kalina and I had such a long day of travel.

The next day, Saturday, we had our event. We had to run to Walmart to grab some supplies, which was an experience! We ended up searching for a long time for a laundry detergent called Borax, which we needed to make the Goo we were using for the event. After countless walks around the aisles, we finally found it, which was a relief. The event took place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It was a beautiful campus, filled with old brick buildings with modern flares. There were about 450 Girl Scouts who were on campus for the event, which as you can imagine, was pretty crazy. At our booth, we had straws and marshmallows for the girls to build towers with, and Goo for the girls to play with. Goo is a putty-like substance created with Borax, glue, and water. Other booths had robots, ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, and many other science-related items.It was about a 4 hour event, however I spent a lot of the time making Goo. It was a hit with the girls!! However, it takes about 15 minutes to make a batch of it, which had to be made in the bathroom. I ended up running back and forth from the booth to the bathroom making and delivering Goo. It was all worth it, though. I loved seeing the girls so excited and eager to learn about the Goo. It was a rewarding feeling knowing that I helped to keep them interested in science.

Kalina and I making Goo at the STEM Expo

Kalina and I making Goo at the STEM Expo

After the event, we drove to Wahlburgers, which is Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg’s restaurant. They have their own show, which showcases the restaurant and their family life. I had Donnie’s Choice Burger, which turned out to be the best burger I had ever had, a frappe (milkshake), and fries! Now I understand why there was a 45 minute wait to get a table. The restaurant was unique and fun, which is why I think so many people love it.

YUM, Wahlburgers!

YUM, Wahlburgers!

Once we had finished eating, we drove to Salem, MA to experience the spookiness. Since it is October, Salem was hosting many Halloween-related events. It was very, very cold that night, so we walked around the streets quickly looking at all of the famous sites. The place that blew me away the most was the memorial for those who died during the Salem Witch Trials. It is crazy to read how they died, and why they were believed to have been a witch. The history in Salem was incredibly overwhelming, however it is worth the visit.

The Witch House in Salem

The Witch House in Salem

The next day, Kalina and I headed to the airport at 5:30am to catch a flight back to our warm, Florida residences. I cannot explain how grateful I am to have been able to travel to Boston with one of my closest friends. I never thought I would ever get to see New England and all of its history, so it was an experience I am incredibly thankful for. I cannot wait for more amazing ‘work’ trips in the future, but for now, back to school!!

Until next time,



Finding ERAU, World Suicide Prevention Day and 9/11

The Question of College: How I Found ERAU
High school students, usually seniors, are constantly being hounded with the question of going to college. Parents get worried and students get frustrated. What to do, what to do, what to do. I can tell you from experience that I was in the same boat not too long ago. Here is where it started. Ever since I was four years old, I wanted to be a famous singer/actress/dancer. I ate, slept, and dreamt about being on stage in front of thousands of people performing my heart out. I had my first musical production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” when I was in fifth grade. That followed with a myriad of productions all throughout middle school and high school. Some of which included: “A Christmas Story,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” In high school I took part in Senior Thespians and was in an elite group of singers that performed all around Broward County. Being swept up in the luxury of “fame,” I was never focused on getting an education and I never really enjoyed going to school – especially high school. This was until spring break 2013.
My family and I were heading to St. Augustine when my dad mentioned going to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The next thing I know, we were at the gates of KSC. The word “EXPLORE” in big blue letters was sitting on top of the entrance gate and seven rockets sat behind it. The moment I walked through that gate and saw those rockets I knew I had to do that. Now let me clarify, I didn’t know what “that” was at that moment. We spent the whole day at KSC meeting the people that worked there as well as an astronaut. By the end of the day, I was walking out of KSC in a blue NASA astronaut flight suit. That is what I wanted to do: I wanted to become an astronaut.
Two and a half years later I come to find myself at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach studying Human Factors & Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Biomechanical Engineering as a double degree, an officer and/or member of multiple clubs/organizations, involved on several projects, and working towards my ultimate dream of becoming an astronaut. On top of all that, I have managed my own website and social media sites interacting with people from all around the world sharing our love for space and knowledge.
skye and dad 1
My Dad and me at NASA 2013
So what is college to you? Building the next rocket to go to space? Creating a booming business that you will one day become the CEO of? Becoming the next Neil Armstrong or Sally Ride? Whatever it may be, a STEM degree, business degree, or anything else, you will find what you are looking for as long as you have a passion and drive behind it. That is how I found myself, my career, and ERAU. You can do the same.

World Suicide Prevention Day
Yesterday, September 10th, was World Suicide Prevention Day. Students, faculty and staff had the chance to write messages on colored flags that were put in the (the lawn in front of the Student Center). “Hope” and “love yourself” were just some of the words written by students and faculty at ERAU. With something as little as messages on colored flags, it speaks volumes.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 (800) 273-8255 –
every eagle
Forever Remember 9/11. 14 years later we remember what happened on that tragic day back in 2001. Innocent lives were lost, and hearts were broken. We will forever remember their bravery and sacrifice. We will forever remember each one of the lives lost on that tragic day. They will never be forgotten. Together we stand as one. Never forget.

Weekend Traveler

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before” -Dalai Lama

I love this quote because it seems to be my motto as of late. These last two weeks have been full of travel and I am excited to say that the next few weeks will be, too!

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Savannah, Georgia with the Women’s Ambassador Program. I traveled with one other Ambassador and an Admissions Counselor. We drove up to Georgia Friday afternoon and spent the night touring around Savannah. For those who have never been to Savannah, it is absolutely gorgeous! The old architecture and the Spanish moss are best seen with your own eyes. The evening was very cold, however we did stop in Barracuda Bob’s Restaurant to get some warm food. We walked down River Street and downtown Savannah. Of course, we had to stop in Paula Deen’s Restaurant and store. We also saw very cool art shops, boutiques, and hotels. The next day we went to a local high school for Girls in Engineering Day. We got to speak to so many young girls about their passion for math, science, and engineering. It was so inspiring to see girls who already know what they want to do for their future careers!


Old Building in Savannah


River boat on River Street


Paula Deen Store


Georgia Peach in the Georgia Visitor Center


Jessica and I at the Girls in Engineering Day


Jessica and I on the Florida-Georgia State Line

After a long drive home from Savannah on Saturday, I got to spend Sunday at the Daytona 500! It was probably one of the best sporting events I have been to. All year I have driven by Daytona International Speedway while it was under construction and empty. Then, I finally got to be inside when it was packed full of crazy NASCAR fans. My boyfriend and I walked over to the Speedway around 10:30AM, since it was almost impossible to drive anywhere. We spent the morning looking at all of the vendors and just enjoying the sights and smells of the 500. Kid Rock and Phillip Phillips both sang and of course, the USAF Thunderbirds did a flyover. Once it hit race time the crowd went wild! The race was full of excitement from start to finish and in the end, Joey Logano took first. Needless to say, I will definitely be going again next year!!

At the Daytona 500

At the Daytona 500

Turn 2 at Daytona International Speedway

Turn 2 at Daytona International Speedway

Last weekend, I traveled home to Seattle, WA with my boyfriend for his brother’s wedding. We left on Friday afternoon and arrived in Seattle at 11:30PM that night. We had to stop in Salt Lake City, UT for a layover, which was a lot of fun. (I love exploring airports!) The funny thing was that our flight from Salt Lake City to Seattle was practically empty! The aircraft was a week-old 737ER which only had about 50 passengers on it! So of course, we each took our own row and spread out.

Empty 737!

Empty 737!

The next day was wedding day! We drove up to the University of Washington in Seattle to take pictures and set up. The wedding was beautiful and I felt so blessed to witness it. Afterwards, the reception was in an old Naval Hangar in Seattle. The reception was awesome and it was cool to be inside of a huge hangar that once held Naval aircraft.

David and I before the wedding in Seattle

David and I before the wedding in Seattle

On Sunday our flight left Seattle at 12PM, so we were only home for about 30 hours. Even though it was a short period of time, it is always great to be home! Surprisingly it was a bright, sunny weekend, which is odd for Seattle in February. All in all, it was a great trip and a very tiring one. I finally made it back to my room at 12AM, Monday morning.

Flying over the Cascade Mountains

Flying over the Cascade Mountains

This weekend I am off to Dallas, Texas for a Women in Aviation, International Conference. I cannot wait to meet many professional women who are already successful in the aviation field. Next weekend I will be traveling to Fort Myers, Florida for Spring Break! It will be nice to relax and get away from school for awhile. I will keep you updated on my traveling adventures!

Until next time,


Boeing here I come!

Hey everybody! Remember me? Well it’s been quite a long time since I last wrote a blog. When I first started doing this, I was just starting out at Embry-Riddle. Now I’m a senior!! Can’t believe how fast the time goes by when you’re working towards your passion in life.

Boeing here I come!

Not much has changed in my life. I’m still an Aerospace Engineering major with a concentration in astronautics. Except this summer, I’m here in Washington State at an internship with The Boeing Company!

Now, before I start saying anything about my job, I would just like to say one thing: you don’t know the power a good university like Embry-Riddle carries until you get out in the industry. You see, I didn’t get my internship through Embry-Riddle (although our Career Services Office does an AMAZING job at getting students jobs/internships!!). Last year, in October, I went to a Hispanics in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) conference in Orlando called HENAAC. For those of you who have previously read my blog…yes it was at Disney. Anywho, this is a huge conference where big named companies go and celebrate diversity in the field. And by big names, I mean people like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Chevron. Did I mention this isn’t an aviation conference? Yeah, great shot for us aviation geeks at getting a job 😉

On the first day of the conference, the main sponsors held hospitality suites with food (lots of it!) and recruiters and managers (hiring people!). I was one of the first ones lined up to go talk to a recruiter I had met earlier. I handed him my my resume, he looked it over, and referred me to a manager that had literally just walked in. Mind you I was standing next to students from other really good Universities like MIT, GTech, Purdue. However, when that manager saw the ERAU name on my resume, he just looked at me and said “OH! Embry-Riddle! Very good school!” I was surprised, honestly! Our University has a huge name and a very good reputation in the industry. I found out Boeing hires hundreds of ERAU students every year as interns (don’t quote me exactly on that number). To put that into perspective, here in Washington/Puget Sound area, there are around 1,040 interns total this summer. And my lead engineer is a Riddle grad too! We do stake our claim here!
Anyways, that same night of the hospitality suite, the manager called me back (mind you it was like 10 pm…). He asked me to come back to the suite. I was so nervous! What was he going to tell me? Good job, but you’re just not what we’re looking for? Nope! He wanted me to set up an interview!

So a few days later, on a Saturday, I waltzed into the career fair with an interview already set up. I had such mixed feelings about it. It was a combination of anxiety, excitement, nervousness…well everything. And when I get anxious, I tend to talk a lot. Needless to say this carried on in the interview…I felt like I was talking way too much and that I was rambling on! I was so scared at the end of the interview that I had just bored them to death. I used every tip that Career Services had provided for me, but I just wasn’t sure how well I did!
Then, the wait began. On October 26th (yes I remember the date!), I opened my email. “Boeing Global Staffing”. Huh? I opened it. My phone began to ring. Should I wait and see the email? Who could be calling me? I answered the phone. “Hello, is this Adriana?” “Uh…yes…who is this?” “Hi, this is Cynthia calling from Boeing. Have you checked your email today? We would like you extend to you an offer for an internship for the Summer 2013. You have to reply within 48 hours on your decision. The instructions are in your email.” “UH! YES! I’ll do that right away! Thank you!”
Needless to say, I accepted right after I hung up. That was 7 months ago, exactly. Today, I’m sitting here on May 26 in my apartment. I started about a week ago (May 17th). But I think that’s a story for next time…

The Boeing Company, Washington state