Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ashley's Final Thoughts

I cannot believe it has been two weeks since we embarked on our journey Friday, May 8! Not only have I seen more than 10 states, bison and cows, and beautiful terrain, but also several tornadoes! I can honestly say I've met some great people on this trip and have made 11 new friends. It's amazing what two weeks and endless hours in a van can do to a group of people who previously did not know each other too well. We made great memories and have plenty of inside jokes as well as a few silly nicknames. It's amazing when I reflect on these two weeks and think about all we've accomplished in such little time. We got to say hi to Air Force, visit SPC and even teach elementary students about science through our STEM outreach program. More importantly, I got to see my first tornado! Coming from California, I have only experienced very minor earthquakes that I could count on one hand, so severe weather was very foreign to me. I was in complete awe when I saw my first funnel create a tornado. Even more amazing than that was our process of finding these tornados and how we could pinpoint their location from just several models, weather reports and GPS systems. If technology didn't already impress me, it sure does now! I can watch the weather channel now and not just look at pretty colors and numbers. I actually know what they are talking about when they say dew point temperature, dry line, or shear. Though I am not a professional by any means, it is nevertheless exciting to have a basic understanding of the complexities of basic weather dynamics. SWIFT has only encouraged me to continue my path of understanding severe weather formation. The leadership opportunity was amazing as well. I got to lead the weather team and logistics team twice each. Being a leader came with great responsibility for that day. I was in charge of making and presenting a PowerPoint brief each morning and pinpointing a location based on the weather models. We had no idea where we were going to end up each day, which made the experience both exciting and challenging. I got firsthand experience on what it feels like to lead a team and how much they depend on your command. It was a challenging role, but also the reason why I came to the Naval Academy in the first place. I had a great time on this trip and am honored to have gotten to represent the SWIFT team of 2015.

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