2015 Fall Graduation Spotlights

Some of the members of our fall graduating class shared where they’re heading next, and looked back on their time at Embry-Riddle Prescott.  

Grace Brennan, Aerospace Engineering — Astro Track

Klairen Calaustro, Aerospace Engineering — Minor in Business Administration

Blake Colson, Electrical Engineering

Miguel Diaz, M.S. in Safety Science

Walter Gallaty, Aerospace Engineering — Astro Track

Jonathan Kozich, Aerospace Engineering — Astro Track

AJ Marin, Electrical Engineering

Scott McClelland, Aerospace Engineering — Astro Track

John Sami, Senior in Aeronautics with Minors in Business, Safety, and Security

Logan Sansom, Electrical Engineering

Taylor Stipe, Global Security and Intelligence Studies, Security Operations Management Track


John SamiJohn Sami

Senior in Aeronautics with minors in Business, Safety, and Security 

Q: Who will you remember most from your time here?

A: Three faculty — Dr. Robin Sobotta (Business), Dr. Sarah Nilsson (Aviation), and Dr. Brent Bowen (Aviation) because they have guided me through some of the toughest academic and career choices imaginable. I’m very grateful that they listened to me and offered me so many options and opportunities. They are a big reason for the successes I have been able to enjoy. 

Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing here at Embry-Riddle?

A: Just one? There’s so many! But right now since I’m getting close to finishing I’d have to say it will be graduating magna cum laude. I never thought I could do that but I’ve really excelled at this school. I came in as a transfer student and have really taken advantage of what’s offered here from the classes to clubs to conferences, networking the whole time.

I’m also proud of the times I’ve helped other students. For example, I have been able to put myself through school 100% with scholarships, including most recently the Janice K. Barden $1,000 scholarship at the NBAA conference in Las Vegas in November. I’ve shared my methods with whoever will listen, and I know some of them have been awarded scholarships too. Finishing without debt and helping others feels really rewarding.

Ok, I have one more I want to share. I’m proud to have been instrumental in Embry-Riddle’s first sponsorship at the National Gay Pilots Association conference. A small group of us attended the conference where we networked, attended sessions, and met so many amazing professionals in aviation. We had a ton of alumni visit the booth. It was amazing and inspiring and it makes me proud to say that Embry-Riddle is a safe place to grow and learn for all students.

Q: Hands-on learning is a big part of the student experience at Embry-Riddle. What opportunities for applying your learning stand out for you?

A: My internships and my trip to Dubai. I interned twice at United Airlines, once in Marketing and Loyalty Data Management and once in Diversity and Inclusion. During my summer in Marketing I helped co-design an app for flight attendants and cabin crew. It shows the story of each person on the flight who are members of United’s Mileage Plus program. The flight attendants can use this information to make a person’s flight extra special, like a free beverage for a birthday, or surprise and delight a passenger that had a recent negative experience. This past summer, in the Diversity and Inclusion Department, I co-planned and executed multi-cultural events around the world such as Pride parades. For my second project, I was responsible for working cross departmentally to provide updated information and be a part of United scoring a perfect 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Rating Index for the 5th year in a row. I learned so much and I used my skills to help this world-renowned company. And I’d like to add that these were PAID internships and included flight benefits! I highly recommend interning at United. As for my recent trip to the Dubai Aviation Festival, you should check out my blog to learn how exciting life as a student here can be. 

Q: What do you want prospective student to know about Embry-Riddle?

A: When the marketing materials say “the sky’s the limit” or “you know where you’re going, we help you get there” you can believe it! Just look at where I’ve been and what Embry-Riddle has helped me accomplish. It’s been better than I could have imagined.


Scott McClellandScott Mclelland Embry-Riddle Prescott

Aerospace Engineering — Astro track

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I am headed to the Air Force to become a pilot. I'm excited to start my future!

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: I'm proud of graduating, of course. But my best experience has been with my fraternity, Sigma Chi. I was president for one year and am proud of helping educate our new members on what it means to be Sigma Chi, which is friendship, justice, and learning. It has made a huge difference in my college career because it is an organization that instills in a person to become better throughout your life. 

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: My friends from the fraternity and here at Embry-Riddle but also some the great people from Prescott who have become my friends. There are no such things as boring places, just boring people. 

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: Sigma Chi because it blew away what I thought I knew about fraternities. I'd also include the quality of the Air Force ROTC at Embry-Riddle. 

Q: Anything else you want to say about your time here at ERAU?

A: This is a great University if you have a passion and know what you want to do because it's specialized. It will teach you and support you 100% in that pursuit. 


Grace BrennanGrace Brennan

AE — Astro Track

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I am taking a short break and going home to be with my family in Oregon. As well, I have started the job search process and look forward to working my network connections.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: The C-Bird, which is my senior capstone project culminating my learning here. The purpose of this unmanned aircraft is to help the Coast Guard in search and rescue efforts. It’s been a great deal of work – probably over 5,000 team hours in the last two semesters.

I’m also proud of my time on the volleyball team. It’s been really great to have something outside of academics that I could focus on, plus it has taught me excellent time management.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Professor Helbling. He’s been a great teacher and he has industry experience that he brings to every class. Professor Zwick does the same thing. That has made a big difference to me in how I understand and approach engineering.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: How well known it is everywhere. If you go to the airport wearing something with an Embry-Riddle logo, people will stop you and say how great a school it is. I just didn’t expect that, but it makes me proud.

Q: Anything else you want to say about your time here at ERAU?

A: I am really glad the school’s focusing on bringing more women to Embry-Riddle. There are great opportunities. We need more women!


Jonathan KozichJonathan Kozich

Aerospace Engineering — Astro Track

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I’m planning to take two months off but I’m also in the middle of the interview process for several aerospace companies.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: I’m most proud of my senior detail team and project Veruta Lander. The project applied the math and all the engineering processes I’ve learned here at Riddle, finishing with a full-scale model. It’s great to actually make a physical system and have it work as you planned!

I was also on the Eagle Space Flight team, launching rockets and providing ground tracking -- meaning I used computer modeling to predict the rocket recovery spots.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Dr. Yale, my professor for detail and preliminary design. Also my academic advisor, Dr. Julio Benavides, because he’s the main faculty contributor for Astro emphasis.

As far as fellow students, I’d say Siddarth, who was my College Academic Mentor. I assisted him on his J22 satellite perturbations research, which basically means looking at what affects orbital decays. It was great working alongside him.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: The hands-on experience is in everything. I was not expecting that but it fantastic. There is high academic integrity and the small classes mean your professor will know you. You can’t go missing. They really care about you.


Blake ColsonBlake Colson

Electrical Engineering

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I’m going to Whiteman Air Force base to do developmental engineering with a maintenance squad. This entails airframe and ground system maintenance for the B-2 Stealth bomber. It’s a great opportunity and I look forward to something new!

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: Definitely my academics, but outside of that it would be my growth in leadership and becoming more socially outgoing. I was pretty introverted in high school.

I’m most proud of organizing a leadership and regional planning conference for 150 people across four states for the Air Force Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings, including a military banquet. I was the head of a five-person committee and it was a huge success. That took a lot of work on top of school and AFROTC.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A:  Jim Weber, Dr. Ed Post, and Dr. Joel Schipper. They have all been there to help me when I needed it.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: For being a small university in a small-town location, there’s a surprising amount of things to do. I also find that the relationships I’ve built are really strong.

Q: Anything else you want to say about your time here at ERAU?

A: I am one of the people who has enjoyed this experience for all it offers. There has been pain and difficulties and I’ve wanted to quit many times, but through this I have found something that I enjoy doing. I will miss the people here, the classes. I definitely want to give back to this school when I can.


AJ MarinAJ Marin

Electrical Engineering

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi to become a pilot. I’m very excited about this!

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: The fact that I have been able to maintain high grades while maintaining leadership positions here at Riddle. EE is one of the most difficult programs and I’m proud of the fact that I have done that. I’ll be graduating cum laude.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Countless people and EE teachers, but mostly Dr. Brian Davis and Dr. Ed Post. Dr. Davis inspired me to switch from AE to EE and has been there to help me since.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: The community here. I thought it would be mostly the academics and Air Force but sophomore year I really developed some close relationships. There are a lot of fun outdoor activities, festivals, car shows and pleasant things to do in this area too.

Q: Anything else you want to say about your time here at ERAU?

A: I recommend ERAU for its great learning environment, students, and faculty. 


Walter Gallaty

Aerospace Engineering — Astro Track

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I’m commissioning in the Air Force next Friday, then going to Cape Canaveral to be a space operations officer.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: The lander that my senior design team created. It was a huge amount of work — and it works.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Dr. Bordignon who was my academic advisor and Dr. Yale. The Air Force Cadre.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: The friends I’ve made here. Everyone is like-minded with aerospace. I feel like I’ve found a family.


Miguel DiazMiguel Diaz

M.S. in Safety Science

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I have an opportunity to teach English in South Korea that I am leaning toward. I have never had the experience of being immersed in another culture outside of Mexico and the U.S. Also, I have come to learn that I enjoy teaching others and I want to further explore that.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: Accomplishing both my undergraduate and graduate degrees but also being a leader in the ERAU climbing club – The Mountain Club. Even though it’s not academic, it’s something that has become a huge part of my life.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Scott Ritchie. He’s not my academic advisor but he has been instrumental in helping me explore careers and find South Korea opportunity.

My friend and ERAU alum Mac because he introduced me to climbing. When I first started, he helped all of us learn the ropes. For a few years now, I have been in the position to teach others and it’s cool to see how they have developed. They are good enough to now teach the next group. That’s my legacy.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: You are surrounded by like-minded people. It’s a good feeling to find so many people with similar interests.


Logan Sansom

Mechanical Engineering

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I am in Army ROTC headed to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to the Basic Officer Leadership Course.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: My time on the Honeywell Project Senior Design Team Simulated Environment Experiment +. My team researched and designed computational fluid dynamics describing flow characteristics through the simulation of disc live rim slot of a turbine engine. 

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Dr. Michael Fabian made sure the project was on track and going in the proper direction. Dr. Brenda Haven was my academic advisor. She made sure I was taking the correct classes and helped me in any classes I had with her. Dr. Shigeo Hayashibara helped with the rig analysis.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: The small town, the small classes; but more than that has been the teachers. I didn’t expect each one of them to remember me, and even three years later still know my name and say hello. Also, working directly with the industry is an incredible experience.

Q: Anything else you want to say about your time here at ERAU?

A: It’s challenging, but fun. Given the chance, I would do it all over again.


Taylor StipeScott Mclelland Embry-Riddle Prescott

Global Security and Intelligence Studies, Security Operations Management Track

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I’m headed home to Chicago for a break, but I am in the middle of interviewing with several governmental agencies.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: Academically, it’s my senior thesis and defense. I spent over three months researching and writing a thesis paper titled The U.S. Domination of Unrestricted International Cyber Space. I used historical examples to explain where the U.S. has been involved in international policy and the outcomes of those policies. I found regulation agreed to at the international level would likely lessen our power to manage our own cyberspace here because we already have powerful policy in place.

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Volleyball head coach Jill Blasczyk and former assistant coach Rachel Williams. Initially, I was given the opportunity to be a manager for the team. Within the first week, Rachel helped me get a job as an assistant coach for a local club volleyball team. That next year, I was head coach for two teams and assistant coach for two more. Because of this experience, when Rachel left, Coach Blasczyk offered me the assistant coach job for Embry-Riddle’s collegiate volleyball team, so I’ve been doing this for two years. In 2014-15, we placed fifth in the NAIA Cal Pac conference. This year, we won the conference! This is the winningest season in Volleyball’s history. I had never thought of myself as a coach and Rachel did an amazing job helping me. This is pretty unique – being a collegiate coach while being a student.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: The level of professionalism by faculty and staff. Hearing about faculty’s experience in the industry has been my greatest motivating factor. Dr. Ty Groh flew for the Norwegian Air Force while in the USAF. I had him for three classes and he helped me develop my thesis topic. He turned down incredible opportunities to come here and teach – that says a lot to me. He has been the most influential and motivating professor I have had here.

Q: Anything else you want to say about your time here at ERAU?

A: Prescott and Embry-Riddle are what you make of it. The truth is that I took the opportunities presented to me and I did a lot that I hadn’t expected. I’ve had amazing experiences on campus and with faculty, as well as off-campus. I have learned about who I am and what I want.


Klairen CalaustroKlairen Calaustro

Aerospace Engineering, minor in Business Administration

Q: Where are you headed next? 

A: I’m going to Boeing in Seattle to be a Test Engineer. Actually, the movers are coming this Saturday!

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: That would be my senior capstone project the Department of Transportation Traffic Surveillance small unmanned aircraft system. It is strictly electric and it successfully flew. I was the team lead for our 10-person team both in the preliminary design and the design courses. The hands-on experience from this helped me land my new job. 

I’m also the President of the Corporate Scholarship Outreach Program. We invite companies to campus or go on tours of major companies like Boeing in Seattle, WA and Mesa, AZ, all three Honeywell facilities in Arizona, and Raisbeck Engineering Inc. in Seattle. 

Q: Who has contributed to your success? 

A: Academic Advisor Melissa Mena and Dean Ron Madler. They both have given me great advice on job, interview techniques, and my resume. 

Q: What is one thing that surprised you about ERAU?

A: The Embry-Riddle community as a whole, but specifically the alumni. I met so many on my internships at Boeing -- two in Philadelphia, one in Miami doing full-motion simulations, and last one in Seattle doing test engineering. They have been helpful in many ways and you can tell they really want to help.

To inquire about the Prescott Campus, call us at 928-777-6600 or 800-888-3728, or email Prescott@erau.edu.

Related Resources

Catalog

For more information on courses and dates, check out the Prescott Campus Catalog.