Grace

About Grace

Cyber Intelligence Global Security

Major: Cyber Intelligence & Security, Global Security & Intelligence Studies

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Activities: Hiking, Soccer

Favorite Class: Database Security and Mandarin

Favorite thing to do in Prescott: I like exploring around Prescott.

In my free time I…enjoy hiking the many trails Prescott has to offer. I also am consistently found eating delicious tacos at Spicy Streets or playing tennis on the school courts with friends.

The World’s Oldest Rodeo and 4th of July Celebration in Prescott

Arriving in Prescott, many college students experience a slower, traditional small-town vibe. Yet, when Christmas or patriotic holidays roll around, Prescott awakens. It is a festive Hallmark town, colored with cheer and décor. This 4th of July was no different. Drawing people from all over Arizona, Prescott was bustling with numerous events, like the World’s Oldest Rodeo, the 4th of July Parade, Northern Arizona’s Annual Tattoo Fest, and, of course, a fireworks show.

Taken in an alley, this gem of a Prescott mural was nicely hidden behind Whiskey Row.

To kick off the weekend, Prescott hosted the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Surprisingly, this was a culture shock like no other, a country culture shock if you will. I was not prepared, cowboy hat and boot-less. In awe, I watched as cowboy after cowboy competed in various horse-riding and animal lassoing events. Many times, I had to Google the competition I was watching, for I had never seen such a thing. But, like the large crowd of country folk in attendance, I was entertained and thoroughly enjoyed my time.

These friends (alumni Timmy Casnellie, alumni Ashley Carlson, student Keliz White) joined me in experiencing the rodeo life.

The annual 4th of July Parade processed down the streets of the downtown Courthouse Square, ultimately testing my parallel parking skills. Hundreds of Prescott locals showed up to support our veterans, lining the streets with red, white, and blue. The streets were overflowing with retro cars, local law enforcement, motorcycles, and tons of floats, from our own Golden Eagles Flight team’s float to a Democratic float, sporting a huge cutout poster of President Biden. If this puts into context how busy it was, I had to risk getting kicked by a flipping cheerleader just to cross the street for a coffee.

This is an example of the numerous tattoo shop booths that lined Tattoo Fest.

Unbeknownst to most, the Northern Arizona Annual Tattoo Fest was taking place at the Prescott Resort and Casino. Although daunting at first glance, the fest was a creative chaos; the air filled with the nonstop buzz of the needle as people were getting tattooed left and right. After spending many hours browsing the line of booths, I left the resort reflecting on all the life stories that were shared and souvenirs I collected. It was a welcoming environment, and I’m appreciative of this glimpse into the tattoo world.  

To complete the weekend, the fireworks show went off over Watson Lake. While the fireworks were grand and explosive, the fair-like activities prior were more enjoyable in my opinion. Since the pandemic, I have forgotten how the simple activity of picnicking with friends could be so fun. And, the grand finale of firework burst after firework burst made the trek back to the car in the dark worth it.

This image displays the start of the fireworks’ finale.

Overall, Prescott’s support and applaudable effort in celebrating this holiday weekend was a pleasure to partake in. Growing up in a city, I do miss the hustle and bustle of typical metropolitan life. Seeing the town rise to the challenge made me appreciate the community we are a part of, here, in Prescott, Arizona.

Applying for Scholarships

Receiving scholarships is no easy task. Neither is applying for them. Yet, we, as students, do because the chance we could receive one is enough to motivate us to apply. I remember when I first toured Riddle, back in the days of 2018, and met a girl who applied to numerous scholarships and received so many that she didn’t have any student debt when she graduated. I aspired to be that girl, to have that perseverance. 

Proud logo of the College of Security and Intelligence (CSI).

Of course, the ERAU Financial Aid Office offers many good options, but they are only the starting source. I’d say, about 80% of applying to scholarships is dependent on your self-determination. Some students receive competitive scholarships through their ROTC programs, if that is what you like to do. I am not one of those students. Initially, I looked for programs through the clubs I was active in. Sometimes, clubs and national organizations may be funding scholarships for their members. I found that there were quite a few in aviation clubs, although despite going to an aeronautical university, I knew little about. In Cyber Defense Club, a group closely related to my interests, I learned about a few opportunities supported by WiCYS and applied to those. Sadly, no luck.

Entrance to the CSI Building

Then, I moved online. Gauging my status as a college student from my metadata, advertisements were popping up with sources of scholarship search engines, like FastWeb and Scholarships.com. Having had applied to many scholarships prior, I was tired of asking my professors for glowing recommendation letters, answering essay questions, and writing slightly tweaked cover letters for each scholarship. The minimal requirements for the generic scholarships online were greatly appealing, so I applied to many. Yet again, I had no luck.

This is the famous Cyber Lab, located in Room 127 of CSI Building.

At this point, I had an Excel spreadsheet of over 50 scholarships I had applied to. Fatigued but still determined to not have student debt, I traversed on. This was around year two of college, so I had already started accumulating debt. I decided that I needed to look outside my previous methods. I turned within my College of Security and Intelligence and Department of Cyber Intelligence and Security specifically. Perfect timing! Dr. Sampigethaya, the Department Chair of Cyber Security, was just promoting applications to the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program. In 2019, our Cyber Lab was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense Education, Cyber Defense Research, and Cyber Operations by the DHS and NSA, making ERAU students applicable for this program. Recognizing the magnitude of this opportunity, I jumped right into the application process. Five months later, I received a phone call, a scholarship, and a post-graduation job! In retrospect, the process of scholarship applying doesn’t seem that rigorous; however, when I was in it, it was horrible. The longer it takes to receive scholarships, the more debt you accumulate. If you have many disappointments like I did, don’t give up! Working hard now can only benefit your future self, and honestly your bank account.

The scholarship application process is challenging; if you need assistance on any step, a smart move would be contacting the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships. This ERAU Office can support you in just about all aspects of the application process, from formatting your resume to requesting recommendation letters from professors. To contact them, please email uaawards@erau.edu.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Security Agency.

Hitting the Trail: Thumb Butte

No doubt, the town of Prescott is known for its numerous outdoor activities and hiking opportunities.

First sign entering the Thumb Butte trailhead, signifying the trail’s parking.

With such a well-known presence that ERAU even named dorms after it (T1 and T2), Thumb Butte is an ideal trail. Located in the Prescott National Forest, Thumb Butte Trail #33 is a moderate hike for people of all hiking backgrounds.

Thumb Butte trail information.

Hearing such appraisal in town, I too ventured out to the Thumb Butte. Once at the trailhead, I was instantly forced to make a decision that would greatly affect my hiking experience. Choosing to hike up the left or right route first, since it is a loop, would either be a more difficult steep climb or a nice gradual incline, respectively. Of course, representing the rebellious youth, I chose to start off with the difficult left side.

The two paths hikers must choose when starting the hike.
Hiking up the trail.

Honestly, the upwards half of the 2.5-mile loop was the ultimate thigh killer, paralleling the soreness one gets after leg day. The 700 ft elevation gain, fit into one mile of switchbacks, was no simple walk in the forest, pun intended. It was quite the struggle.

However, it was worth a quick sweat and soreness. The views on the climb up and opportunities to keep climbing higher were superb and greatly appreciated. Being a well-maintained concrete path, it was nice to see a chance to continue up an unbeaten path.

If you are considering hiking “Thumb Butt”, as I humorously call it, ensure you check the forecast prior. Living near the mountain, I have done this hike a couple times a month over the years and have made the mistake of hiking in wet and snowy climates; so, don’t follow my lead unless you enjoy involuntary sliding and sloshy shoes. Overall, as proven by my consistent return to the mountain, I recommend this trail for a day when you have the desire to hike but may not have the time to take on a longer adventure.